Love Me, I'm a Liberal

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

"Love Me, I'm a Liberal"
Song by Phil Ochs
from the album Phil Ochs in Concert
GenreTopical song, folk
Songwriter(s)Phil Ochs
Producer(s)Jac Holzman and Mark Abramson

"Love Me, I'm a Liberal" is a satirical song by Phil Ochs, an American singer-songwriter. 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]

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.[2]

"Love Me, I'm a Liberal" is sung from the perspective of an American 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."[3] In the song's other verses, the singer says he supports the Civil Rights Movement and "love[s] Puerto Ricans and Negros as long as they don't move next door",[4] but adds that if somebody suggests busing the singer's children to integrate their schools, he "hope[s] the cops take down [their] name".[5] In the final verse, the narrator reveals that he used to be like the listener:[5]

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.[3]

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."[6] 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".[7]

In 2018, Billy Bragg wrote of "Love Me, I'm a Liberal": "As with all such finely honed topical songs, the cultural references have dated somewhat. However, Ochs's description of a liberal as someone whose politics are '10 degrees to the left of centre in good times, 10 degrees to the right of centre if it affects them personally' still resonates today."[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,[9] Kevin Devine,[10] Gerd Schinkel,[11] Evan Greer,[12] John Yannis,[13] Nacho Vegas [es],[14] Oscar Brand, Carly Cosgrove and Chris T-T.[15]


  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. ^ Mershon, Phil (September 2001). "Phil Ochs". Perfect Sound Forever. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Ochs, Phil (1978). The Complete Phil Ochs. Hollywood, Calif.: Almo Publications. pp. 84–85. ISBN 978-0-89705-010-4.
  4. ^ Marqusee, Mike (2005) [2003]. Wicked Messenger: Bob Dylan and the 1960s. New York: Seven Stories Press. p. 110. ISBN 978-1-58322-686-5.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Schumacher, p. 100.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Bragg, Billy (February 2018). "Free Radicals: 5 Crucial Phil Ochs Cuts". Mojo. p. 60.
  9. ^ Cohen, David (1999). Phil Ochs: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. p. 274. ISBN 978-0-313-31029-4.
  10. ^ Gaston, Peter (September 18, 2008). "Exclusive: Download Two Kevin Devine Songs". Spin. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
  11. ^ Cohen, p. 288.
  12. ^ Greer, Evan. "Love Me, I'm a Liberal (2003)". Riot-Folk. Archived from the original on March 8, 2012. Retrieved March 18, 2015.
  13. ^ Cohen, p. 293.
  14. ^ Herrero, Javier (December 17, 2015). "Nacho Vegas reivindica el populismo en la música en su nuevo disco". EFE. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  15. ^ "Chris T-T New Album '9 Green Songs' Out 3 June 2016". Xtra Mile Recordings. April 6, 2016. Retrieved June 3, 2016.