I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die is the second studio album by the influential San Franciscopsychedelic rockband, Country Joe and the Fish, and released in 1967. Recordings took place in Vanguard studios in 71 West 23rd Street, New York City. The title track remains one of the most popular Vietnam protest songs from the 1960s and originally appeared on a 1965 7" EP titled Rag Baby: Songs of Opposition. On the album version, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" appears following "The Fish Cheer", which at concerts became a Country Joe standard. At Woodstock, Joe had the crowd yell F-U-C-K instead of F-I-S-H. Another musical highlight is the track "Janis" written for McDonald's then-girlfriend Janis Joplin. It is the second song written for a female musician for their albums, the other being "Grace". Two singles were released in the wake of the album. These include "Janis"/"Janis (instrumental)" and "Who Am I"/"Thursday".
The second album was released just seven months after the debut and is another prime example of the band's psychedelic experimentation. It again features organ-heavy psychedelia and Eastern melodic lines and more acoustic guitar than their debut production. During this time, the band continued to build on their growing fame by performing at local venues like the Fillmore Auditorium. Despite the familiarity of the opening track, the album itself sold less than its predecessor. The album, as a whole, fit well in the psychedelic scene of San Francisco. The band effectively used satirical humor to express their outspoken views toward the Vietnam War and other hot topics of the counterculture. Although the rest of the tracks were not as popular, they still were accessible and showcased Country Joe McDonald as a lead vocalist. With the creativity of the band reaching a climax, the band began touring nationally and became positively regarded for their live light shows.
The title song faced a legal challenge from the estate of New Orleans jazz trombone pioneer Edward "Kid" Ory, whose daughter Babette claimed that McDonald had appropriated the melody for his song from Ory's classic "Muskrat Ramble" as recorded by Louis Armstrong & his Hot Five in 1926. A 2005 judgment upheld McDonald's copyright on the song, claiming that Ory had waited too long to make the claim.
The original album sleeve contained a poster for "The Fish Game", a huge 22 x 33-inch fold-out board game sheet for throwing a dice and moving five band-member cut-out paper pieces around on. Various goals are available for the game such as "scoring a joint".
All songs by Country Joe McDonald, except where noted. Janis is the first song on side two of the original LP.
- "The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" – 3:44
- "Who Am I" – 4:05
- "Pat's Song" – 5:26
- "Rock Coast Blues" – 3:57
- "Magoo" – 4:44
- "Janis" – 2:36
- "Thought Dream" – 6:39
- "Thursday" (Cohen, Hirsh) – 3:20
- "Eastern Jam" (Bartol, Cohen, Hirsh, Melton) – 4:27
- "Colors for Susan" – 5:58
- Country Joe and the Fish
- ^ ab"Country Joe". countryjoe.com. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- ^Allmusic review
- ^Vol 1. No. 3, December 14, 1967, p. 19
- ^"Feel Like I'm Fixin' for a Comeback". independent.co.uk. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
- ^"I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die". acerecords.co.uk. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
- ^"Billboard Charts". billboard.com. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
- ^ abJames Perone. "Songs From the Vietnam Conflict". Google.com. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- ^"I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die". therockasteria.com. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
Vietnam Music Monday: “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag”
“I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” was released in 1967 on Country Joe and the Fish’s second album I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die. (Newseum collection)
Music played an important cultural role during the Vietnam War, representing the rebellious views of a young generation and the traditional values of an older, so-called “silent majority.” The Newseum selected 40 songs released between 1963 and 1973 that typified the music of the Vietnam era. The songs captured the emotions of people for and against the war and reflected the mood of an increasingly diverse country amid dramatic social and political change.
The 40 songs, part of the Newseum’s “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit, are a fraction of the hundreds of recordings that dealt with the war and civil disobedience. Each week, one song from the playlist will be featured. We encourage you to add your favorite songs of the era to the comment section!
I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag (1967)
Country Joe and the Fish
Country Joe and the Fish started in Berkeley, Calif., as a part of the Free Speech Movement. The group became a fixture of the San Francisco psychedelic music scene. In 1967, they released “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag,” which was popular on college radio stations but was not an immediate hit. The song, with its biting anti-war sarcasm, gained national attention after Country Joe McDonald performed it at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969, and it was included in the Woodstock album and film.
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
Purchase “I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” on Amazon or iTunes.
“Reporting Vietnam,” a new exhibit that marks the 50th anniversary of the start of America’s first televised war, explores the dramatic stories of how journalists brought news about the war to a divided nation.
Contributing support for the “Reporting Vietnam” exhibit is provided by CBS Corporation, in memory of CBS News correspondent Bob Simon.