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“I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” (also known as “The Fish Cheer“) is a song by the American psychedelic rock band Country Joe and the Fish, written by Country Joe McDonald, and first released as the opening track on the extended play, Rag Baby Talking Issue No. 1, in October 1965 (see 1965 in music). Musically structured in traditional ragtime, “The Fish Cheer”‘s dark humor and satire made it one of the most recognized protest songs against the Vietnam War. Accordingly, critics cite the composition as a bona fide psychedelic rock song, and a classic of the counterculture era.
“The Fish Cheer” saw a more commercial release on the group’s second album, I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ to Die, which was distributed in November 1967. The song has been the topic of controversary and fame for the band since its release. An altered version of the rag that was performed in live performances, known as “The Fuck Cheer”, subjugated Country Joe and the Fish to a television ban in 1968, for the vulgarity, but was applauded by concert-goers. In addition, the song was a favorite among the hippie culture, and was featured in McDonald’s set list at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. Decades later, McDonald had a lawsuit filed against him for allegedly infringing on the copyright of Kid Ory’s tune, “Muskrat Ramble”. McDonald denied these allegations and the suit was later dropped.
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