When I was a little girl, a local radio station used to play folk music on Sunday nights. I listened and learned and remembered. Joan Baez has one of the purest voices I have ever heard. When I had the opportunity to buy one of those multi-record (yep, vinyl) compilations, I did and listened to her songs over and over. Perhaps none resonated as much as “There But for Fortunate,” written by folksinger Phil Ochs, another talented artist who died far before his time.
Show me the alley, show me the train,
Show me a hobo who sleeps out in the rain,
And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why
There but for fortune, may go you or go I you and I.Songwriters: Phil Ochs
If you’re a poet, a dreamer, you know that one thing we share is the what if? This is that song. What if we were not as privileged? What if we were a POC? When I heard Joan Baez’ 2020 version, tears came to my eyes. It’s hard not to react. May we recognize how fortunate we are and lend a hand or support to those who are not.
Below are two videos. One uploaded just a few days ago and one from the 1960s.