President John F. Kennedy. John Lennon.
If you are of a certain age, you remember where you were when you learned of the untimely deaths of those iconic figures.
But, JJ Goldberg adds one more icon to that list: the protest-“topical” singer-songwriter, Phil Ochs, who died exactly forty years ago this week — a death by suicide, after years of struggling with alcoholism and mental illness. He was 35 years old.
I know exactly where I was when I heard about Ochs’ death — a Reform Jewish college seminar at the Eisner Camp in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The news had come on Shabbat, and it darkened Shabbat for all of us. That Ochs was Jewish made the news darker still.
I cannot imagine my teen years without the musical presence of Phil Ochs. He was my musical hero.