Saturday, April 09, 2011

Country Joe & the Fish

More than forty-five years ago, Country Joe McDonald's version of "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die-Rag," came out, and I don't see that it has lost any steam, nor, unfortunately, has it grown any less timely.

He supposedly borrowed the tune from an old Louis Armstrong version of "Muskrat Ramble," but the lawsuit was settled in his favor because it was filed too late: Apparently the copyright holders for "Ramble" had known about it for thirty years before they got around to suing. 

This vid is the Woodstock version, and I dunno if the backstory is true, but I like it: Joe was there with the Fish, but not a scheduled solo performer. There was a gap between acts and somebody asked him to fill in. He didn't even have a guitar, but there was a Yamaha acoustic backstage, and when he told them he couldn't use it because it didn't have a strap, somebody found a piece of rope and tied that to the guitar for a strap. You can clearly see this in the video.

McDonald later allowed as how he was terrified at the size of the audience, but when he realized most of them weren't paying attention to him, he ramped things up with the FISH cheer, altered to a less polite version:

"Gimme an 'F!' Gimme a 'U!" Gimme a 'C ...!"

That apparently got their attention.

Here are the lyrics:

Yeah, come on all of you, big strong men,
Uncle Sam needs your help again.
He's got himself in a terrible jam
Way down yonder in Vietnam
So put down your books and pick up a gun,
We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.


And it's one, two, three,
What are we fighting for ?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn,
Next stop is Vietnam;
And it's five, six, seven,
Open up the pearly gates,
Well there ain't no time to wonder why,
Whoopee! we're all gonna die.

Well, come on generals, let's move fast;
Your big chance has come at last.
Gotta go out and get those reds —
The only good commie is the one who's dead
And you know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come.


Well, come on Wall Street, don't move slow,
Why man, this is war au-go-go.
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of the trade,
Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong.


Well, come on mothers throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on fathers, don't hesitate,
Send 'em off before it's too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.


1 comment:

orclgrl said...

I loved that album and that song! At age 9 I found it in my older brother's collection and played it over and over until it was well and truly memorized! F-I-S-H!