The ‘60s were full of protest singers, that much is certain, but one who never fully got his due in his lifetime is Phil Ochs, who would’ve turned 83 today.
Ochs arrived in New York City in 1962 with an eye toward becoming a folk singer, found a home within the Greenwich Village scene, and by the summer of the following year he’d found enough success to be invited to perform at the Newport Folk Festival. A year after that, he’d released his debut album, All the News That’s Fit to Sing, and he would continue to release an album a year all the way through 1970.
Unfortunately, none of these studio albums would make much of a dent on the Billboard 200 - indeed, the highest charting of the bunch was 1969's Rehearsals for Retirement, and it topped out at #167 - and the most commercially successful record of his lifetime, 1966's Phil Ochs in Concert, still only hit #150. He also couldn't score a hit single to save his life. But Ochs was, if nothing else, a man who could appreciate irony, hence his final studio album being called Greatest Hits, featuring him wearing a gold lamé suit a la Elvis Presley, with the back cover proclaiming, "50 Phil Ochs Fans Can't Be Wrong."
But to those who heard them, Ochs' songs mattered, and although he died at his own hand in 1976 after battling alcoholism, depression, and a late-in-life diagnosis of bipolar disorder, his songs continue to resonate with audiences as well as new generations of musicians. As such, Q is celebrating the day of Ochs' birth with a playlist filled with a plethora of Ochs' songs. In an effort to offer up as many unique compositions as possible, there's only one version of each song included, but if you prefer a different cover than one that we've included, please do offer up your suggestions in the comments section.