Episode 1035 will revisit a topic raised back in episode 797 of this the Vietnam Veteran News Podcast. Joe McDonald will be forever linked to the Vietnam Era through music. His iconic song “The ‘Fish’ Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die Rag” was the premier Vietnam War protest anthem yet it was a favorite of many Vietnam military personnel. Recently the seventy five year old semi-retired rocker spoke with Patrick Sauer of the New York Times about his accidental stardom. The meeting and the thoughts of Joe McDonald were described in an opinion piece by Sauer in the New York Times titled: Country Joe’s Obscene Truths.
Sauer reports that the accident that led to his rise to stardom as a singer of anti-war songs occurred in 1969 at the monumental Woodstock Music Festival in upstate New York. Carlos Santana was having some delays in getting on stage with his band so the emcee grabbed a performer hanging around backstage to go out and kill a little time. The performer, McDonald, was reluctant to go on stage because he was scheduled to play later in the day but he decided to go on when they presented him with a Yamaha FG 150 guitar tied with a rope in lieu of a strap.
McDonald performed eight songs and the audience showed little interest in any of the numbers. His tour manager suggested he sing his new song he was saving for his performance the following night. The singer walked back out, alone, and called to the masses, “Give me an F!” Suddenly the crowd of half a million rose to their feet and joined in Country Joe McDonald’s antiwar war cry, chanting along from the opening expletive all the way to the “Whoopee! We’re all going to die” capper.
Listen to episode 1035 and discover more about Country Joe McDonald and his famous song.