|"There but for Fortune"|
|Song by Phil Ochs|
|from the album New Folks Volume 2|
|"There but for Fortune"|
|Single by Joan Baez|
|from the album Joan Baez/5|
|Joan Baez singles chronology|
"There but for Fortune" is a song by American folk musician Phil Ochs. Ochs wrote the song in 1963 and recorded it twice, for New Folks Volume 2 (Vanguard, 1964) and Phil Ochs in Concert (Elektra, 1966). Joan Baez also recorded "There but for Fortune" in 1964, and her version of the song became a chart hit.
"There but for Fortune" consists of four verses, each one of which ends with the line "there but for fortune may go you or I". The first verse is about a prisoner.The second verse describes a hobo. The third verse is about a drunk who stumbles out of a bar. The final verse describes a country that has been bombed.
One of Ochs' biographers wrote that, "of all the songs that Phil would ever write, none would show his humanity as brilliantly as the four brief verses of 'There but for Fortune'".
The song's title was used as the name of the 1989 compilation album There but for Fortune , which featured material taken from three albums Ochs recorded for Elektra Records between 1964 and 1966.Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune was also used as the title of Michael Schumacher's 1996 biography, as well as Kenneth Bowser's 2011 documentary on the singer's life.
Ochs recorded "There but for Fortune" twice. In 1964 he recorded it for the Vanguard compilation New Folks Volume 2.The 1964 recording was reissued on the 2000 compact disc The Early Years .
In 1966, tapes were made of Ochs's concerts at New York's Carnegie Hall and Boston's Jordan Hall. They were released as Phil Ochs in Concert . One of the songs on In Concert was "There but for Fortune".Ochs introduces the song by saying it was written for him by Joan Baez, an ironic reference to her hit single.
In October 1964, Baez recorded "There but for Fortune" for Joan Baez/5 . It was released in the U.S. as a singlein June, 1965, with "Daddy, You Been on My Mind", a Bob Dylan song, as the B-side. In July, it was released as a single in the U.K., where its B-side was "Plaisir D'Amour".
The single became a Top Ten hit in the U.K., reaching #8.It was also nominated for a Grammy Award for "Best Folk Recording". In the U.S. it peaked at #50 on the Billboard chart — a good showing, but not a hit.
By coincidence, Joan Baez in Concert, Part 2 became a #8 hit in the U.K. at the same time "There but for Fortune" did.
The Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975,and a "War Is Over" rally was held in New York's Central Park on May 11. At the rally, Ochs and Baez sang a duet of "There but for Fortune".
"There but for Fortune" has been covered by more than a dozen performers besides Baez, including Chad and Jeremy, Eugene Chadbourne, Cher, The Gretchen Phillips Experience, Jim and Jean, The Mike Leander Orchestra, Vicky Leandros (from the 1966 album "Songs und Folklore") The New Christy Minstrels, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Spokesmen, Françoise Hardy.and Sammy Walker. Peter, Paul and Mary's cover features a bridge between the third and forth verses, containing references to hunger and children, written by Noel Paul Stookey. Also, a French version, "Où va la chance?", with lyrics adapted by Eddy Marnay, was originally performed by Françoise Hardy and later covered by Isabelle Boulay.
Philip David Ochs was an American protest singer and songwriter who was known for his sharp wit, sardonic humor, political activism, often alliterative lyrics, and distinctive voice. He wrote hundreds of songs in the 1960s and 1970s and released eight albums.
Joan Chandos Baez is an American singer, songwriter, musician, and activist. Her contemporary folk music often includes songs of protest and social justice. Baez has performed publicly for over 60 years, releasing over 30 albums. Fluent in Spanish and English, she has also recorded songs in at least six other languages.
Phil Ochs in Concert is Phil Ochs' third long player, released in 1966 on Elektra Records. Despite its title, it was not entirely live, as several tracks were actually recorded in the studio, owing to flaws in the live recordings made in Boston and New York City in late 1965 and early 66. The album's producers retained the essence of a live album by including song patter and audience reactions between and during the songs. Phil Ochs in Concert features many of the folksinger's most enduring songs and represents the culmination of Ochs' folk career, the last of his original albums to be all-acoustic.
There but for Fortune was a 1989 compilation that summed up the three albums that Phil Ochs recorded for Elektra Records between 1964 and 1966. The album drew heavily from the third, presenting ten of its eleven tracks, and presenting six and five respectively from the first and second.
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Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune is a documentary film on the life and times of folk singer-songwriter Phil Ochs. The film, released theatrically in January 2011, was written and directed by Kenneth Bowser. Its title is taken from one of Ochs' best known songs, "There but for Fortune" (1963).
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