Too Many Martyrs

Words by Phil Ochs

Music by Phil Ochs and Bob Gibson


In the state of Mississippi many years ago
A boy of fourteen years got a taste of Southern law
He saw his friend a-hangin', his color was his crime
The blood upon his jacket put a brand upon his mind

Too many martyrs and too many dead
Too many lies, too many empty words were said
Too many times for too many angry men
Oh, let it never be again

His name was Medgar Evers and he walked his road alone
Like Emmett Till and thousands more whose names we'll never know
They tried to burn his home and they beat him to the ground
But deep inside they both knew what it took to bring him down

The killer waited by his home hidden by the night
As Evers stepped out from his car into the rifle sight
He slowly squeezed the trigger, the bullet left his side
It struck the heart of every man when Evers fell and died

They laid him in his grave while the bugle sounded clear
They laid him in his grave when victory was near
While we waited for the future with the wisdom of our plans
The country gained a killer, and the country lost a man


Copyright © 1963 APPLESEED MUSIC, INC.

Early title: Ballad of Medgar Evers

Bob Gibson erroneously refers to this song as "Killing Martyrs" in his book I Come For To Sing.