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Outside of a small circle  Phil Ochs

They've [C]dragged her to the [Em]bushes and [F]now she's being [G]stabbed
[E]Maybe we should call the cops and [Am]try to stop the pain
But [F]Monopoly is [Am]so much fun  I'd [Dm]hate to blow the [G]game
And I'm [C]sure it wouldn't [Am]interest [Eb]anybody
[Cm]Outside of a small circle of f[F]riends
[C]Riding down the [D]highway  yes my [C]back is getting [D]stiff
[C]Thirteen cars are [Em]piled up   [F]they're hanging on a [G]cliff
[E]Maybe we should pull them back [Am]with our towing chain
But we [F]gotta move and we [Am]might get sued and it [Dm]looks like it's gonna
And I'm [C]sure it wouldn't [Am]interest [Eb]anybody
[Cm]Outside of a small circle of [F]friends
[C]Sweating in the [D]ghetto with the[C] colored and the [D]poor
The [C]rats have joined the [Em]babies who are [F]sleeping on the [G]floor
[E]Now wouldn't it be a riot if they [Am]really blew their tops
But they [F]got too much [Am]already and [Dm]besides we got the [G]cops
And I'm [C]sure it wouldn't [Am]interest [Eb]anybody
[Cm]Outside of a small circle of [F]friends
Oh there's a [C]dirty paper [D]using sex [C]to make a [D]sale
[C]The Supreme Court was[Em] so upset   they[F] sent him off to [G]jail
[E]Maybe we should help the fiend and [Am]take away his fine
But we're [F]busy reading [Am]Playboy and the [Dm]Sunday New York [G]Times
And I'm [C]sure it wouldn't [Am]interest [Eb]anybody
[Cm]Outside of a small circle of [F]friends
[C]Smoking [D]marijuana is more [C]fun than drinking[D] beer
But a [C]friend of ours was [Em]captured and they [F]gave him thirty [G]years
[E]Maybe we should raise our voices  [Am] ask somebody why
But demonst[F]rations are a [Am]drag   [Dm]besides we're much too [G]high
And I'm sure it wouldn't interest anybody
Outside of a small circle of friends
[C]Look outside the [D]window  there's a[C] woman being [D]grabbed
They've [C]dragged her to the [Em]bushes and [F]now she's being [G]stabbed
[E]Maybe we should call the cops and [Am]try to stop the pain
But [F]Monopoly is [Am]so much fun  I'd [Dm]hate to blow the [G]game
And I'm [C]sure it wouldn't [Am]interest [Eb]anybody
[Cm]Outside of a small circle of f[F]riends
From Phil Ochs "Pleasures of the Harbor"
A & M Records 1967
Barricade Music(ASCAP)
Ochs might have lamented that "Changes" was never the hit it should've
been, but here he encountered something far more frustrating:
a hit that almost was. "Small Circle Of Friends" was an immediate
staple of "underground" FM radio and looked set to cross the
message over to the less discriminating masses who still understood
only what Top 40 radio tattooed on their consciousness.
The single was all over the AM airwaves in Los Angeles and actually
cracked the Top 10 in Seattle. Then the FCC weighed in
with the opinion that the record was objectionable because of the line
"smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer." Never
mind that in context the line was part of an explicitly antidrug
message; that was a subtlety the FCC could not fathom. By the
time A&M Records could get an "acceptable" edit on the market, the
momentum of the early airplay had been lost. And in the
Top 40 game, momentum is everything. Phil Ochs would never have that
hit single. And the tragedy was that had it become the
hit it seems certain it would have been, the Pleasures Of The Harbor
album would have reached the new audience for which it
was intended. In losing the momentum of the single, they lost the
whole album.
This song, still a hit around my house, was inspired by the Kitty
Genovese murder in New York, which was witnessed by several
people who rather than become involved allowed the woman to die. But
Phil saw the Genovese incident as only the screaming headline
of a story that included -- and indicted -- everyone. At precisely the
moment when the "counterculture" was exploding, Phil saw instead
the underlying disease that was eating away at the foundation of all
American life. He liked to say that he "died" during the
at the '68 Democratic Convention in Chicago. But in this song,
recorded a year earlier, he had already diagnosed the cancer --
the avoidance of involvement -- that would take the life of the
"It's always been a question of: Will it stand the test of time?" Phil
later said of topical music and in particular of "Small Circle Of
"That was one of the things in the very early days, before Dylan left
politics, when he and I were writing political songs. There were two
attacks: You can't write folk music, and you can't use folk music for
propaganda. Besides it's topical and it'll be meaningless two years
then. And so to sing 'Small Circle Of Friends' seven years later and
still get the same response gives the lie to that attack. Whether the
audience is hearing it for the first or the fifteenth time, it holds
up. It could be nostalgia for some people, but on the other hand,
there's some
essential truth locked up in that song. A thirteen-year-old kid that
hears it today responds to it because the truth is there. In a way
it's more
there than ever, than even when I wrote it."10

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