Saturday 26 September 2020

Bless The Day #13: There But For Fortune


Joan Baez singing Phil Ochs’ ‘There But For Fortune’ is an incredibly beautiful thing. It is so very moving, and Phil somehow succeeded in striking the perfect balance between writing a particularly compassionate song and being quietly angry. The gently reflective way Joan sings it, well, sometimes it seems like it was meant for her: she sounds so wise, so understanding, and the recording is so stark and haunting that its magic lasts.

‘There But For Fortune’ is how many of us first unwittingly came across Phil’s work. Once it was often on the radio, the Joan Baez recording, or at least that’s the way it seems. Certainly, at home, it was one of those songs that would be listened to intently whenever it came on: a warning finger raised and the head cocked on one side to catch the words better, and woe betide anyone who interrupted. Joni’s ‘Both Sides Now’ is another one where this would happen, and lines from that song have been pinned up on the wall here for years and years: can you guess which ones?