There But For Fortune

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piano/SATB - words and music by Phil Ochs - arr. Peter Amidon

In the Amidons' book "Twenty-five Anthems for Interfaith & Community Choirs". Sung here by the Starry Mountain Singers. We added improvized banjo and fiddle in the recording, but it works fine with just piano/SATB.  Phil Ochs (1940 - 1976) was an American topical singer and songwriter, known for his wit, political activism, and his earnest humanism, all reflected in this song. Here is a Youtube of the Starry Mountain Singers performance of the arrangement.

Here are two classic performances of the song:

LYRICS

There But For Fortune
Phil Ochs

Show me the prison, show me the jail
Show me the pris'ner whose face is growing pale
And I'll show you a young man
With so many reasons why
And there but for fortune, go you or I

Show me the alley, show me the train
Show me the hobo who sleeps out in the rain
And I'll show you a young man
With so many reasons why
And there but for fortune, go you or I, mmm…

Show me the whiskey stains on the floor
Show me the drunkard as he staggers out the door
And I'll show you a young man
With so many reasons why
And there but for fortune, go you or I.

Show me the country where the bombs had to fall
Show me the ruins of the towers once so tall
And I'll show you a young land
With many reasons why
And there but for fortune, go you or I.

 

 

Tags: secular, piano SATB, Amidon Favorites