Welcome to my music webpage!

My love of folk music began with my playing music with the Seeger family when I went to their summer camp in Vermont as a child. From there, I began to expand my repertoire, and added songs from Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Hank Williams, Kate Wolf and many others too numerous to name. After playing many venues New York, I relocated to the West Coast for several years and continued my passion for performing there. I recently moved back to my hometown of NYC, and am enjoying reconnecting with my folk roots here.

Thank you for visiting my page and I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

"There But For Fortune"

A shot of me performing at the Million Mom March
on Mother's Day 2000 in DC

I had the privilege of organizing local moms and dads from Santa Cruz California for the Million Mom March in 2000. I met many families who had lost their children to gun violence. It was an incredibly moving experience that has stayed with me vividly.

The shot is from the Million Mom March in DC in 2000. It was the largest audience I had ever played for (over 100,00). In this shot of my performance in DC, I have a poster that is leaning against my legs with the faces of some of the local Santa Cruz Ca youths who had died from gun violence in the small Central Coast community where I was living in at the time. I was invited to perform a song that was originally penned by Phil Ochs, with updated lyrics by me.

Sadly, they still apply.

My brother Jon took this shot. It was the last time we were all together: my brother, my sister-in-law, my nephew, my mom and me.

"There But For Fortune" original words/music by Phil Ochs

updated lyrics written by Beth Kotkin

"Show me a playground, show me a park
Show me the classroom wall where the bullets made their mark
And I’ll show you a young child, with so many reasons why
There But For Fortune may go you or I

Show me a woman who leaves on the run
Show me an angry man who is grabbing for his gun
And I’ll show you a young wife with so many reasons why
There But For Fortune may go you or I

Show me a veteran who knows no one cares
Show me the trembling hands pull the trigger in despair
And I’ll show you a young man with so many reasons why
There But For Fortune may go you or I

Show me a country where guns are in style
Show me the families who have lost their dearest child
And I’ll show you some young lives with so many reasons why
There But For Fortune may go you or I"

The MP3 posted below is a studio version that was made with the help of many great musicians who donated their time to have this appear on the CD that was put out shortly after this event. Unfortunately, it never made the CD. I was bumped to allow Emmylou Harris contribute a song. That's show business folks!

But luckily I can share it with you here..... ( I want to thank Ray Frank for all his work on this project: this was his arrangement, and he rounded up all the musicians and the studio all of whom donated their time and creativity, including the wonderful Patrice Haan, on harmony vocals....)

There But For Fortune


  1. Thank you, Beth. This is touching. I have repost the lyrics at my blog, here: http://newtrajectory.blogspot.com/2012/12/lyrics-there-but-for-fortune.html

  2. Thanks Baldr. Here's hoping it will be out of date sooner rather than later!

  3. I enjoyed this very much, Beth. You may recall me from our UB days. David Jodrey jodreydb at aol dot com

  4. wow...a blast from the past. Hope all is well with you David! Thanks for stopping by


  5. All is well. I thought of you when I saw Joan Baez on tv singing at the White House three years ago - here's something I put in a blog's comments column then:

    Joan Baez engages the White House audience in a singalong of "We Shall Overcome". "In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music From the Civil Rights Movement" aired on PBS stations nationwide on Thursday, February 11, 2010.


    At 1:40 of the clip, Baez says, while continuing to strum her guitar, "One day Dr. King realized the nonviolent fight went far beyond the shores of this great country, went far across the sea to a war that was being fought by God's children, on both sides of that great fight. And he knew that he had to speak out against that, and he was afraid. He was very afraid. So we all raised our voices just a little bit louder. 'We are not afraid today.'"

    The audience sings along on that verse. At the end of the song Obama and Biden are shown smiling as they clap.

    A personal note - each time I watch this clip, I see Obama and Biden's facial expressions at the end as shark-like grins.