In 1965 Country Joe and the Fish first released their hit single “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” on the A1 track of an EP (extended play) known as “Rag Baby: Songs of Opposition“. However, the single would not prove to be truly popular with the general antiwar movement (and some of the general populace) until it became the headline track to their second album: “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die”.
Previous anti-war songs like Bob Dylan’s “Blowing In The Wind” emerged after the 1961-62 American troop presence in Vietnam tripling and were the first songs to protest the war. These were characterized by deep pleads of pathos that were quite moving. However, by the time “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” became popular, public interest in the war had become even more apparent with Lyndon B. Johnson’s 60,000 personal surge in 1965 escalating the war, young men started coming home injured or not at all. This satirical, snarky, and outwardly angry song hit a deep cord with an American populace that was becoming ever more angry and frustrated with their government in relation to the war.
The song has a bouncy “state fair” tune with a country twang in the lead vocalist’s lyrics that highlights pro-war absurdity. This strives to (and quite effectively does) mock the establishment as unintelligent in their war efforts and understanding of the basic logic of peace. The song also gives rise to criticism of the general pro-war populace as absurd due to the nonchalant and almost fun way the vocalist speaks of depressing issues.
In fact “I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag” was so successful, in both its musical hook and deliverance of its message, that other artists in the future would cover the song by using the music and changing the lyrics to address wars and conflicts that they didn’t approve of. Like Scott Lucado’s cover about the Kosovo conflict and Cindy Lauritzen’s anti-Drug War cover.
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