American SocialHistory Project · Center forMedia and Learning
In 1959, at the age of seventeen, Joe McDonald joined the Navy. After his discharge three years later, he enrolled in a Los Angeles college where he became involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In 1965, McDonald moved to Berkeley, California just as protests against the Vietnam War were becoming more visible. He formed a band called Country Joe and the Fish which recorded the "Fixin-to-Die-Rag" in October. The song, while never a commercial success, became one of the most powerful anthems of the anti-war movement.
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 Viet Nam So put down your books and pick up a gun We're gonna have a whole lotta fun.
(CHORUS) And it's one, two, three, What are we fighting for Don't ask me, I don't give a damn, Next stop is Viet Nam; 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.
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 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 war is a go-go There's plenty good money to be made Supplying the Army with the tools of the trade Just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb, They drop it on the Viet Cong
Come on mothers throughout the land Pack your boys off to Viet Nam. Come on fathers, don't hesitate, Send your sons off before it's too late. You can be the first one on your block To have your boy come home in a box.
Source | Joe McDonald, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die-Rag," sound recording and lyrics, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die (Tradition Music, BMI, 1965). Creator | Joe McDonald Composer | Joe McDonald Lyricist | Joe McDonald Rights | Used by permission of Joe McDonald. Item Type | Music/Song Cite This document | Joe McDonald, “"I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die-Rag",” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed August 2, 2021, https://shec.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/837.