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February 10, 2024


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The only song I remember from Country Joe and the Fish was the one about Vietnam, which was very popular when I was there in 1968-69. 'Be the first one on your block to have your boy come home in a box.'

The year was 1969 for both posters.

Stephen...the song you refer to is "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag" from the album of the same name, although the version of the song you're most likely thinking of was Country Joe's solo performance at Woodstock. On the album version, the FISH Cheer spelled a different word than Joe had the throng spell at Woodstock.

On the album it was "Gimme an F, gimme an I, gimme an S, Gimme an H." Then Joe said what's that spell and the other Fish shouted "Fish", this was done three times, then a calliope launched into a circus-style music background. It was a highly produced rendition of the song that finished with sound effects of machine guns firing and jets doing a strafing run.

Joe McDonald did the song as part of an unscheduled Saturday afternoon solo set at Woodstock. Santana was scheduled to play, but a rainstorm caused the highly electrified band to delay its set. Joe was hanging around backstage and was pressed into service to fill the void.

The song, and the more profane version of the "Fish Cheer" was included on the Woodstock album and featured in the movie. Although it was never released as a single, it became the best-known Country Joe song.

The band also released a single in 1967 called "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" from the album "Electric Music for the Mind and Body". The record charted at #98. To hear it on the radio you had to tune into one of those FM stations that played album rock. It didn't get much Top 40 airplay. Except, for some strange reason, at Vancouver's CFUN where it reached #5.

Joe, by the way, was named for Josef Stalin by his parents who were active communists.

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