Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone

After his death in 1976, the FBI (which had maintained a 500 page file on him) still considered him to be “potentially dangerous.” Perhaps that’s one of the reasons why, beyond his mellifluous musicianship and trenchant skill as a songwriter, his music remains relevant and continues to be recorded by new generations of artists.

Despite the subsequent mental illness and drunkeness that led to a decidedly bad end when he took his life 37 years ago now, Phil Ochs’ repeated affirmation of the individual’s role (i.e. you and me, whoever we are) in the eternal fight for social justice continues to ring loud and clear. Here was a man who was gleefully adept at sizing up the hypocrisy of the entire spectrum, from left (“Love Me, I’m a Liberal”) to right (“I’m Gonna Say it Now”) in a single album.

Here’s the final track on his final all-acoustic record, “Phil Ochs in Concert,” released in 1966, which, in addition to the aforementioned numbers also includes the poignant (and center leaning) “There But For Fortune.”

 LISTEN TO THIS SONG – Monday 18 February

When I’m Gone

 There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone

And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone

And you won’t find me singin’ on this song when I’m gone

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

 And I won’t feel the flowing of the time when I’m gone

All the pleasures of love will not be mine when I’m gone

My pen won’t pour a lyric line when I’m gone

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t breathe the bracing air when I’m gone

And I can’t even worry ’bout my cares when I’m gone

Won’t be asked to do my share when I’m gone

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t be running from the rain when I’m gone

And I can’t even suffer from the pain when I’m gone

Can’t say who’s to praise and who’s to blame when I’m gone

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

 Won’t see the golden of the sun when I’m gone

And the evenings and the mornings will be one when I’m gone

Can’t be singing louder than the guns while I’m gone

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

 All my days won’t be dances of delight when I’m gone

And the sands will be shifting from my sight when I’m gone

Can’t add my name into the fight while I’m gone

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

And I won’t be laughing at the lies when I’m gone

And I can’t question how or when or why when I’m gone

Can’t live proud enough to die when I’m gone

So I guess I’ll have to do it while I’m here

 There’s no place in this world where I’ll belong when I’m gone

And I won’t know the right from the wrong when I’m gone

And you won’t find me singin’ on this song when I’m gone

So I guess I’ll have to do it

I guess I’ll have to do it

Guess I’ll have to do it

While I’m here

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