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Origins: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag

11 Dec 96 - 04:25 PM (#744)
Subject: lyrics wanted
From: Cristen

I'm looking for the lyrics to Country Joe and the Fish's "Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die" rag. The refrain begins (I think): One, two, three, what are we fighting for?
Who cares, I don't give a damn,
Its off to Vietnam...

See Country Joe McDonald Website


11 Dec 96 - 08:39 PM (#745)
Subject: Lyr Add: I FEEL LIKE I'M FIXIN' TO DIE RAG
From: stephens@execpc.com (wyatt stephens)

From Rise Up Singing, Peter Blood-Patterson, editor:

I FEEL LIKE I'M FIXIN' TO DIE RAG
(Joe McDonald)

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 lot of fun!

CHORUS:
And its l, 2, 3, what are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn.
Next stop is Vietnam,
And its 5, 6 7, open up the pearly gates.
There aint no time to wonder why.
Whoopie! Were all gonna die!

Come on, generals, let's move fast.
Your big chance has come at last.
Now you can go out and get those Reds,
The only good Commie is one that's dead.
You know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come!

Come on, Wall Street, don't be slow.
Why, man, this is war Au-go-go.
There's plenty good money to be made
Supplying the army with tools of the trade.
Just hope and pray if they drop the Bomb,
They drop it on the Viet Cong!

Come on, mothers, throughout the land,
Pack your boys off to Vietnam.
Come on, fathers, don't hesitate.
Send your sons off before its too late.
You can be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

©1965, Joe McDonald

Live performance by Country Joe & the Fish: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3W7-ngmO_p8


03 Jan 97 - 09:44 AM (#1055)
Subject: RE: lyrics for
From: Cristen

Thanks Wyatt!
Messages from multiple threads combined. Messages below are from a new thread.
-Joe Offer-


31 May 99 - 05:56 AM (#82998)
Subject: Lyrics: "Feel like I'm fixin to die rag'
From: Mauritz Bonde

Looking for the lyrics of "Feel like I'm fixin to die rag"

Thanks


31 May 99 - 06:03 AM (#83000)
Subject: RE: Lyrics: Feel like I'm fixin to die rag'
From: Roger in Baltimore

Good Morning, Mauritz,

Welcome to the Mudcat Cafe. This site has a data base of over 6,000+ songs in the folk and blues genres. You can search this data base from the upper right hand corner of this page where there is a blue rectangle that says "Search the DigiTrad Database". If you type in [uncle sam needs] in the white rectangle and click on the search button, the lyrics which you seek will come up. The brackets [ ] tell the search engine to look for the complete phrase. I didn't use the title, because sometimes we are wrong about titles and are more confidant about a line in the song. I have also created a link to take you right to the song since this is probably your first time here.

So is this your idea of a Memorial Day song? How 60's.

Roger in Baltimore


31 May 99 - 01:45 PM (#83027)
Subject: RE: Lyrics: Feel like I'm fixin to die rag'
From: Joe Offer

You'll find the the lyrics to this and other fine 60's counterculture songs at the Country Joe and the Fish Web Site.
-Joe Offer, a pacifist from the 60's and proud of it-
(grin)


01 Jun 99 - 09:55 AM (#83204)
Subject: RE: Lyrics: Feel like I'm fixin to die rag'
From: Pete Peterson

Country Joe used, more or less, the tune for "Muskrat Ramble", an old Dixieland tune. Some years ago there were several generations of musicians at one of my parties with my mother at the piano, leading Muskrat Ramble. And when she got to the start of the 2nd part, the musicians closest to the piano were singing "And we'll play--that--Musk--Rat--Ramble tune" while others, all at least 40 years younger, were singing "And it's One--Two--Three--What are we fighting for?"

Maybe you had to have been there, but I'll never forget it for an example of the Gneration Gap on display PETE


01 Jun 99 - 12:24 PM (#83228)
Subject: RE: Lyrics: Feel like I'm fixin to die rag'
From: Rick Fielding

When I was about 21, I chauferred the Greenbriar Boys around Toronto. One day I invited Frank Wakefield the VERY eccentric mandolin player (and sometimes profane, scatalogical red-neck) to my Mom's house for lunch. As we were driving there, I started having second thoughts. I pictured Frank being "funny" and my mother being horrified, and me being very embarrassed. When we got there, Frank was absolutely charming and after lunch he got my Mom to sit down at the piano, and took out his mandolin. They played for hours - jazz, pop songs, gospel etc. I remember them tearing apart "Muscrat Ramble". Kid Ory would have been proud.


20 Nov 13 - 02:21 PM (#3577473)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: Jim Dixon

I just listened on Spotify to a recording from the album "Vanguard Visionaries: Country Joe & the Fish" (2007), which I think might be the original recording that was released as a single back in 1967. Here is a detail that I haven't seen documented, and which may have escaped the notice of most listeners: During the choruses, one of the band members is chanting in the background:

Chorus 1: "doo-wacka-doo-wacka-doo-wacka-doo..." etc.

Chorus 2: "...sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me..." etc.

Chorus 3: "...psychedelic, psychedelic, psychedelic..." etc.

Chorus 4: "doo-wacka-doo-wacka-doo-wacka-doo..." etc.


20 Apr 17 - 09:52 PM (#3851525)
Subject: ADD : I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: Joe Offer

In another thread, it was suggested that the tune is very similar to "Muskrat Ramble," recorded by Louis Armstrong: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0vpuFYQwZ5o

Thoughts?

-Joe-



Here's my transcription of the "Fish Cheer" version of the song by Country Joe and the Fish, which seems to be the most commonly-found recording.

FISH CHEER / I-FEEL-LIKE-I'M-FIXIN'-TO- DIE RAG
(Joe McDonald)

Gimme an "F" — "F"
Gimme an "I" — "I"
Gimme an "S" — "S"
Gimme an "H" — "H"

What's that spell? — "Fish!
What's that spell? — "Fish!
What's that spell? — "Fish!!!!


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 lot of fun!

CHORUS:
And its l, 2, 3, what are we fighting for?
Don't ask me, I don't give a damn.
Next stop is Vietnam,
And its 5, 6 7, open up the pearly gates.
Well, there aint no time to wonder why.
Whoopee! Were 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 that's dead.
And you know that peace can only be won
When we've blown 'em all to kingdom come!

Come on, Wall Street, don't move slow.
Why, man, this is war -go-go.
There's plenty good money to be made
By supplying the army with 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 its too late.
Be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box.

©1965, Joe McDonald

There's lyrics, sheet music, and guitar tab at countryjoe.com.

I saw Country Joe perform perform a few years ago. Just as I got to the ticket window, the clerk said they were sold out, but we could wait to see if there were no-shows. Country Joe came out about ten minutes later and gave six of us free tickets. I wasn't one of the lucky ones, but then a woman gave me her ticket.

He was doing a Woody Guthrie retrospective, and he did a wonderful job - with no Country Joe songs in the performance at all. But at the encore, he did sing "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag." The audience went wild!


21 Apr 17 - 05:06 PM (#3851736)
Subject: RE: Origins: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: Thompson

Perhaps there's a folk-musician template personality out there. I laughed so much when I first heard this song! Haven't laughed so much since, except when watching Bienvenue chez les ch'is and Dner de cons. But the personality - the description reminds me of James Clarence Mangan, who normally wore green sunglasses and a huge swinging overcoat and carried four umbrellas. Obviously a kind of cultural reincarnation is in place here.


21 Apr 17 - 06:31 PM (#3851743)
Subject: RE: Origins: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: michaelr

Joe, I remember the spelling chant in the beginning if the song differently.


21 Apr 17 - 09:47 PM (#3851760)
Subject: RE: Origins: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: Jackaroodave

Just for another perspective--Like a lot of conscripts, a friend of mine came back from Vietnam completely against the war for very good reasons: He had seen his buddies killed for a cause that disgusted them when they saw it up close.

He loathed this song.

The last two lines especially didn't go over well:

"You can be the first one on your block
To have your boy come home in a box."

I can't deny its biting satirical force, but I never much cared for it after hearing his feelings about it.


22 Apr 17 - 12:39 AM (#3851772)
Subject: RE: Origins: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: Joe Offer

Michaelr sez: Joe, I remember the spelling chant in the beginning if the song differently.
Yeah, I was trying to find a recording of that version. I think maybe the only recorded version of that one, was the performance at Woodstock.

Gimme an "F" "F"
Gimme an "U" "U"
Gimme an "C" "C"
Gimme an "K" "K"

The song, of course, was originally performed by Country Joe and the Fish, so it's likely that the "Fish Cheer" version was first.

I appreciate what you have to say, Jackaroodave. The "boy come home in a box" line is hard, but that was the hard reality of that war. The people back home could get all rah-rah patriotic, but far too many people died needlessly in that awful war.

Did anyone realize that Pete Seeger recorded this song? -Joe-


22 Apr 17 - 04:23 AM (#3851806)
Subject: RE: Origins: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: Thompson

"Be the first one on your block/ To have your boy come home in a box" was a bitter and angry joke that absolutely captured the way that unjust and wrong war was sold with rah-rah 'patriotism' to Americans. And it's the same approach that will kill many more when America invades North Korea, for the second time in a century.


22 Apr 17 - 04:42 AM (#3851816)
Subject: RE: Origins: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: Big Al Whittle

I always felt the title came from Bukka White's Fixin' to Die blues. popularised by Dave 'Snaker' Ray.


22 Apr 17 - 12:49 PM (#3851874)
Subject: RE: Origins: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag
From: Jackaroodave

"Be the first one on your block/ To have your boy come home in a box" was a bitter and angry joke that absolutely captured the way that unjust and wrong war was sold with rah-rah 'patriotism' to Americans."

Of course it was, very mordant. However, for my friend Mark, whose buddies did go home in boxes, it was nothing to joke about in any way. ("Doo-wacka-doo!") I briefly thought about trying to "explain" to Mark that it was a joke and that he and Country Joe were "on the same side," but I realized it would be futile and arrogant. You wouldn't sing it at the funeral of a Viet Vet against the War, and Mark carried their funerals with him.