There were those who fought in the Vietnam War and those who protested against fighting. Phil Ochs belonged to the latter group. He wrote this song, which features a soldier who has fought in American wars from 1812 to the Civil War to the World Wars of the 20th century. And this symbolic soldier now chooses to fight no longer. Ochs said that it “borders between pacifism and treason, combining the best qualities of both.” “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” became a signature song for Ochs. It was released in 1965 on his album titled I Ain’t Marching Anymore.
Phil Ochs was born Philip David Ochs in El Paso, Texas, in 1940. He was known as a Sixties protest singer, and throughout the 1960s performed at civil rights rallies, student events, and organized labor events. Ochs sang “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where riots broke out.
In the early ’60s, Phil Ochs was as well known as Bob Dylan. His song “There but for Fortune” was a minor U.S. hit for Joan Baez in 1965 (and a Top 10 hit in the U.K.). It was also covered by numerous people, including Chad & Jeremy. There was a documentary released in 2010 about his life and the times of the anti-war movement, folk song revival, and polical activism of the 1960s titled Phil Ochs: There but for Fortune. Among his other well-known songs are “Changes,” “Crucifixion,” Draft Dodger Rag,” “Love Me, I’m a Liberal,” Outside of a Small Circle of Friends,” and “Power and the Glory,” to name a few.
Phil Ochs committed suicide in 1976 at the age of 35. He had struggled with alcoholism and had been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.