Too Many Martyrs

by Phil Ochs and Bob Gibson

Em              G           Am
In the state of Mississippi many years ago
  D                     Em
A boy of 14 years got a taste of southern law
Em                  G               Am
He saw his friend a hanging and his color was his crime
Am      D                            Em
And the blood upon his jacket left a brand upon his mind
        Am       D           G        Em
CHORUS: Too many martyrs and too many dead
Am       D             G                Em
Too many lies too many empty words were said
Am       D             G          Em
Too many times for too many angry men
Am        D        Em
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.

And they laid him in his grave while the bugle sounded clear
laid him in his grave when the victory was near
While we waited for the future for freedom through the land (*)
The country gained a killer and the country lost a man


(*) This line is shown is the sheet music as "While we waited for the future with the wisdom of our plans" (

Scott tells me that he has an early recording of this song (when it was known as Ballad of Medgar Evers) in which the second verse opens with the following lines:

And the boy became a man, the man became a cause The cause became the hope for the country and it's laws
Otherwise, it's the same.

Chords and partial lyrics thanks to with further corrections from Jan Hauenstein

Here's a web page all about the The Murder of Emmett Till

Last modified 24 Aug 02 by trent