Love Me, I'm a Liberal

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"Love Me, I'm a Liberal"
Song by Phil Ochs from the album Phil Ochs in Concert
Published 1965
Released 1966
Genre Topical song, folk
Length 4:33
Label Elektra
Writer Phil Ochs
Producer Jac Holzman and Mark Abramson

"Love Me, I'm a Liberal" is a satirical song by Phil Ochs, a U.S. protest singer. Originally released on his 1966 live album, Phil Ochs in Concert, "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" was soon one of Ochs's most popular concert staples.[1] The song mocks the differences between what liberals say and what they do.[2]

Introducing the song on the live album, Ochs said:

In every American community there are varying shades of political opinion. One of the shadiest of these is the liberals. An outspoken group on many subjects, ten degrees to the left of center in good times, ten degrees to the right of center if it affects them personally. Here, then, is a lesson in safe logic.[3]

"Love Me, I'm a Liberal" is sung from the perspective of a liberal. In the first verse, the singer laments the assassinations of Medgar Evers and President John F. Kennedy, but says Malcolm X got what he deserved. Each verse ends with the refrain, "So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal."[4] In the song's other verses, the singer says he supports the civil rights movement, "love[s] Puerto Ricans and Negros as long as they don't move next door",[5] and that if somebody suggests busing the singer's children to integrate their schools, he will call the police.[6] In the final verse, the singer reveals that he used to be like the listener:[6]

Sure, once I was young and impulsive; I wore every conceivable pin,

Even went to Socialist meetings, learned all the old Union hymns.
Ah, but I've grown older and wiser, and that's why I'm turning you in.

So love me, love me, love me, I'm a liberal.[4]

According to Ochs' biographer Michael Schumacher, "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" would evoke "a strange mixture of laughter, from nervous tittering from those who recognized themselves in Phil's indictment, to open roars of approval from the radical factions in the audience."[7] Eric Alterman describes "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" as "a scorching indictment of liberal cowardice by a bitter adversary, not the good-natured ribbing one might expect from an affectionate ally".[8]

Cover versions[edit]

Several cover versions of "Love Me, I'm a Liberal" have been recorded, almost always with updated lyrics. Performers include Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon, Kevin Devine, Gerd Schinkel, and John Yannis.[9][10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Schumacher, Michael (1996). There But for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs. New York: Hyperion. p. 116. ISBN 978-0-7868-6084-5. 
  2. ^ Kurlansky, Mark (2004). 1968: The Year that Rocked the World. New York: Ballantine. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-345-45582-6. 
  3. ^ Mershon, Phil (September 2001). "Phil Ochs". Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Ochs, Phil (1978). The Complete Phil Ochs. Hollywood, Calif.: Almo Publications. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-89705-010-4. 
  5. ^ Marqusee, Mike (2005) [2003]. Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s. New York: Seven Stories Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-58322-686-5. 
  6. ^ a b Rossinow, Doug (2008). Visions of Progress: The Left-Liberal Tradition in America. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-8122-4049-8. 
  7. ^ Schumacher, p. 100.
  8. ^ Alterman, Eric (2008). Why We're Liberals: A Political Handbook for Post-Bush America. New York: Viking. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-101-20290-6. 
  9. ^ *Cohen, David (1999). Phil Ochs: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 274, 288, 293. ISBN 978-0-313-31029-4. 
  10. ^ Gaston, Peter (September 18, 2008). "Exclusive: Download Two Kevin Devine Songs". Spin. Retrieved October 8, 2011. 

External links[edit]