Song Of The Day: Phil Ochs – “Outside Of A Small Circle Of Friends” (1967)

On this sad day in 1976, the pioneering American folk singer Phil Ochs took his own life. Ochs was at the forefront of the protest singer movement in the early 1960s, often going further and deeper than Bob Dylan’s protest songs by hitting harder and naming names with an even more biting wit. In fact he liked to call himself a “singing journalist” who included a lot of detail in the injustices he recounted in his songs. But he was also an active participant in the movement, getting jailed and beaten up at the Chicago riots of 1968 and in Chile in the 1970s, events that contributed largely to his deep and ultimately fatal disillusionment. By the late 1960s he tried to branch away from his solo guitar treatments to create more baroque pop like this song, but it never gained any traction and so he spent his last few years disappointed and wracked by untreated bipolar disorder and alcoholism. This was a very compassionate and creative soul who deserved a better fate, and we should never forget him.


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