American Masters

Phil Ochs: There But for Fortune

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One of the most politically active singer-songwriters to emerge in the 1960's anti-Vietnam War era, Phil Ochs was inspired by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, but also by Elvis Presley and John Wayne. He was a journalism student in college, which, perhaps, informed the extent of his protest lyrics -- always witty, topical and insightful, always slightly haunting -- such songs as I Ain't Marching Anymore, Love Me I'm a Liberal, Outside of a Small Circle of Friends, Power and the Glory, The War Is Over, and There But for Fortune, famously covered by Joan Baez -- are inseparable from those times. Ochs was vocal and visible, at political rallies, the Newport Folk Festival and the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago. A cohort of Bob Dylan's and Abbie Hoffman's, his ultimate disillusionment with the government and several of his heroes -- and a familial tendency to bi-polar disease -- led to his tragic suicide in April 1976.
 

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