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There but for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  101 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
After a long battle with writer's block & manic depression, internationally acclaimed folksinger-activist Phil Ochs hung himself in 1976. His music had been a spark firing 60s political idealism. His death signaled the end of an era. There But for Fortune: The Life of Phil Ochs is both an in-depth biography & a significant musical history, focusing on the importanc ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 28th 1997 by Hyperion Books (NYC) (first published 1996)
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Erik Graff
Nov 24, 2012 Erik Graff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ochs, 60s fans, folkies
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
I have read two biographies of Phil Ochs. The first was Eliot's Death of a Rebel ('79/89). I've inserted marginalia in my copy of Schumacher's more recent ('96) work, noting the occasional intersections of my life with Ochs', making corrections and additions.
When I was a kid, Ochs was my favorite (urban) folk musician, a singer-songwriter I'd first been exposed to through "The Midnight Special" radio program Dad listened to every Saturday night on WFMT in Chicago. Then, in high school, I start
Oct 21, 2013 Louise rated it it was amazing
I had wondered why this exceptional songwriter's career never took off. Now that I know about his life, I'm amazed that it got as far as it did.

This book tells the Phil Ochs story starting with the unlikely couple of his parents and his birth in the unlikely place of El Paso, TX. His father had difficulties at work and in life and, whatever the reasons, his eldest son did too.

For better and worse, Phil Ochs made and produced his art on his own terms. He left college just months short of his degr
Denis Farley
Dec 12, 2011 Denis Farley rated it really liked it
I saw Phil perform in 1964 in an intimate setting at a college in upstate NY. Met his sister Sonny in the mid-eighties as part of Clearwater's Hudson River Sloop Singsrs. After attending Phil's show I purchased his album, All The News . . . Tom Paxton was also on the bill and his tunes were more accessible and memorable but I didn't buy his record I guess because I could sing them from memory. Phil was more of a singer I thought than Tom or maybe I just was more interested in Phil's voice at the ...more
Jun 11, 2010 Paige rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
This biography of Phil Ochs was a little more respectful of Phil than the other one I read by Marc Eliot (I think the only other one that really exists, besides a bio-bibliography, which isn't the same thing). It also had a somewhat better writing style.

Not only is this a great book about an even greater man, but it's also a book that really helped me to understand the 1960s better. I think Phil really typified the era, and unfortunately, he also became a symbol of the whole disintegration of th
Oct 26, 2013 Mark rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Phil Ochs is one of those enigmatic characters of his times that one wonders, just how would they be approaching some of the events in the world and USA today had they but lived so long. Like Richard Farina, Ochs was contemporaneous and in some fashions competitive with the young Bob Dylan, but both of them shared friendship and values with Dylan. I would go so far as to say that Ochs' Crucifixion ranks as superior piece of 20th C. poetry along with T.S. Eliot's The Wasteland, and WB Yeats' The ...more
Tristan Maack
May 26, 2015 Tristan Maack rated it really liked it
This is a fairly straight forward look at the life of Phil Ochs. Schumacher's book brings you closer into his life than the recent film documentary did. It explores some of the reasons for his tragic suicide.
Feb 16, 2014 Jenna rated it liked it
The first half of the book reads a bit too much like a lame lesson in the 60s, I wish Schumacher had more anecdotes and Phil Ochs related information but maybe it's just not out there... The second half was way more Phil-focused and therefore more interesting, unfortunately it's during the more depressing part of Och's life however.
Shawn Marie Hardy
Aug 07, 2011 Shawn Marie Hardy rated it it was amazing
Excellent account of the short life of Phil Ochs. If you're a fan of his music you will probably love this book. Schumacher's hard work and dedication always pays off. He's an excellent, and very thorough, writer.
May 19, 2009 Franklyn rated it it was amazing
I ordered this book special from the publisher...and I`m glad that I did..visit the old `hootnanies` held in Greenwich Village with the like of a young bobby dylan, dave van ronk, and jerry rubin. ...more
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