Free Dirt Records
Folk, Singer/Songwriter, Traditional Folk

Album Review

Utah Phillips has a long tradition as an activist and radical. I've Got to Know, recorded during the first Gulf War in 1991, is meant to be a rant against war, talking eloquently about the stupidity (and inequity) of killing, through songs and words. Recorded live in the studio in one session, it makes its point wonderfully well, with songs like the unaccompanied "Killing Ground," or the very true "Stupid's Pledge." While he's perhaps not as well-known as Pete Seeger, say, or Woody Guthrie, he's long deserved to be, since his songs are the equal of theirs. Like all good folksingers, he's marvelously humorous, but also marvelously wise -- and he puts his money where his mouth is: as he says on this disc, during the war he refused to drive, since his car didn't run on blood. This isn't a man entertaining; this is a man who feels things very deeply -- not only about war (as on "Trooper's Lament" and his very first composition, "Enola Gay," harking back to his own service in Korea), but about the injustices inherent in the American system, although he does find good things in America. In some hands, something as intense and relentless as this could be wearing, but Phillips knows how to pace things, and how to keep the ear listening. Inevitably, some will violently disagree with what he has to say and sing, and deem it "unpatriotic," but hear it with an open ear. With Phillips, the human element is even more important than the politics. And this disc is every bit as relevant now as when it was recorded.
Chris Nickson, Rovi

Track Listing

  1. Stupid's Pledge
  2. I've Got to Know
  3. Sedition
  4. General, Your Tank
  5. Yellow Ribbon
  6. Yellow Legs & Pugs
  7. I Love My Flag
  8. Scribner on the Draft
  9. Killing Ground
  10. Learning
  11. Riding the Peace Train
  12. Trooper's Lament
  13. Victory Stuff
  14. Mountain Valley Home
  15. Michael
  16. The Soldier's Return
  17. Was It You?
  18. Lord, Ain't It Sad?
  19. What Is a Pacifist?
  20. I Will Not Obey
  21. The Violence Within
  22. Judas Ram
  23. Truman Cactus
  24. There Shall Come Soft Rains
  25. Enola Gay
  26. Wife of Flanders
  27. Rice and Beans
  28. Ain't It Fine
  29. Revolt in the Desert
  30. Stand to Your Glasses Steady
  31. How to Live in Peace
  32. This Here River
  33. Huddled Chickens
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