The song was inspired by the 1964 death of Kitty Genovese, who was stabbed outside her apartment in New York City, while her neighbors ignored her calls for help.
What's always stood out with this song is the harsh words being sung in counterpoint to the incredibly chipper music and arrangement.
Phil Ochs was a wonderful folk singer who never quite hit the same heights of his better-known contemporaries, though had a solid career. I remember thinking that it was a shame I never got to see him, but he had very sadly committed suicide several years earlier. And then, one day in grad school at UCLA, I saw a poster for a concert on campus with...Phil Ochs!! Needless to say, I went, and it was excellent. But to make the story even more weird, a few years after that, he did commit suicide.
Anyway, this is that song.