Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

The night before, the little-known Melanie Safka had her famous impromptu performance.  On Saturday, the far better known Country Joe McDonald did the same and did it even more famously.

Country Joe and the Fish were not scheduled to play until Sunday, but like many musicians there, Country Joe was hanging out and amazed at the size of the crowd. The organizers asked him if he could play a solo set, but he said he had no guitar.

A guitar was found, but it had no strap.

A piece of rope (clothes line?) was found.

And so Joe stepped onto the stage and into history.

Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

His 27 minute set was:

  • Janis
  • Donovan’s Reef
  • Heartaches by the Number
  • Ring of Fire
  • Tennessee Stud
  • Rockin’ Round the World
  • Flying All the Way
  • I Seen a Rocket
  • Fish” Cheer > I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag
Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Janis

No surprise that Country Joe wrote this song for Janis Joplin. They were living together in 1967 and according to Joe, she was upset with him for breaking up with her to be with Robin Menken, whom he subsequently married, but asked him to write a song for her, and this was the song. [Songfacts]

The song was on the 1967 album, I Feel Like I’m Fixin’ To Die

Into my life on waves of electrical sound
And flashing light she came,
Into my life with a twist of a dial
The wave of her hand–the warmth of her smile.

And even though I know that you and I
Could never find the kind of love we wanted together,
Alone I find myself missing you and I, you and I.

It’s not very often that something special happens
And you happen to be that something special for me.
And walking on grass where we rolled and laughed in the moonlight
I find myself thinking of you and I, you and I, you.

Into my eye comes visions of patterns
Designs the image of her I see.
Into my mind the smell of her hair,
The sound of her voice–we once were there.

And even though I know that you and I
Could never find the kind of love we wanted toghther,
Alone, I find myself missing

You and I,
You and I,
You.

Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Donovan’s Reef

Written by Joe, the song is from the 1969 Fish album, Here We Go Again. 

Scorching the painted desert adrift off of Donovan’s reef
Tossing and spinning your pills alone brings such sweet relief
Open your mind and show me a sign to prove you’re insane
Open your arms and show me the scars reflecting your pain
Lovely lady, forgive me now
If words seem cruel
If words seem cruel
You’ve lost your soul
You’ve grown so cold
You’ve learned the rules
Obey the rules of their game:
Life’s just a game
Pig boat sails across the seven seas
Servants at home are down on their knees
The master’s praying and begging me, “Please
Look away.”
Diamonds shining through an emerald sky
Watch the phantom as he flies by
Trying to laugh but he knows he must die
Look away, look away, look away
Satan dances of death and doom our time has finally come
Lower imps of sin sing an orgy of our flesh begun
Excuse me, I can’t seem to recall exactly what’s happening here
Your mask in the past always seemed to me to be so sincere
She’s stolen you away
Taken your heart
Once it was mine
Ah once it was mine
You look so cool
But I’m no fool
You’ll pay for your crimes
By doing your time in their game
Life’s just a game
Life’s just a game
You know that life is just a game
Life’s just a game
Life’s only a game…

Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Heartaches by the Number

Country Joe Woodstock

After Bob Dylan had recorded the album Nashville Skyline, many other rock artists went there, too. Joe was one of them. He called his album, Tonight I’m Singing Just For You and released it in 1970.  Harlan Howard wrote this song.

Heartache number one was when you left me,
I never knew that I could feel this way.
And heartache number two was when you came back again
You came back but never meant to stay.
Now I’ve got heartaches by the number, troubles by the score,
Every day you love me less, each day I love you more.
Yes, I’ve got heartaches by the number, a love that I can’t win
But the day that I stop countin’, that’s the day my world will end.
Heartache number three was when you called me,
You said that you were coming home to stay.
With hopeful heart I waited for your knock on the door,
I waited but you must have lost your way.
Now I’ve got heartaches by the number, troubles by the score,
Every day you love me less, each day I love you more.
Yes, I’ve got heartaches by the number, a love that I can’t win
But the day that I stop countin’, that’s the day my world will end.
Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Ring of Fire

Sticking with his Nashville theme, June Carter and Merle Kilgore wrote Ring of Fire for June’s husband Johnny Cash in 1963. Joe asks the crowd to sing along. It sounds like they demur. This song also appeared on Tonight I’m Singling Just for You.

Love is a burning thing
And it makers a firery ring
Bound by wild desire
I fell in to a ring of fire
I fell in to a burning ring of fire
I went down down down
And the flames went higher.
And it burns burns burns
The ring of fire
The ring of fire.
The taste of love is sweet
When hearts like our’s meet
I fell for you like a child
Oh, but the fire went wild
I fell in to a burning ring of fire
Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Tennessee Stud

A third song from Tonight I’m Singling Just for You, Tennessee Stud is a classic song written by Jimmy Driftwood in 1959. Many had already covered the song, including Johnny Cash.

Back about eighteen and twenty-five
I left Tennessee very much alive
I never would have made it through the Arkansas mud
If I hadn’t been riding on the Tennessee Stud
Had some trouble with my sweetheart’s pa
One of her brothers was a bad outlaw
I wrote a letter to my Uncle Fud
And I rode away on the Tennessee Stud
The Tennessee Stud was long and lean
The color of the sun and his eyes were green
He had the nerve and he had the blood
There never was a horse like the Tennessee Stud
Drifted on down into no man’s land
I crossed the river called the Rio Grande
I raced my horse with the Spaniards bold
‘Til I got me a skinful of silver and gold
Me and a gambler, we couldn’t agree
We got in a fight over Tennessee
We pulled our guns, he fell with a thud
And I rode away on the Tennessee Stud
The Tennessee Stud was long and lean
The color of the sun and his eyes were green
He had the nerve and he had the blood
There never was a horse like the Tennessee Stud
I rode right back across Arkansas
And I whipped her brother and I whipped her pa
I found that girl with the golden hair
And she was riding on a Tennessee mare
Pretty little baby on the cabin floor
A little horse colt playing ’round the door
I love the girl with the golden hair
And the Tennessee Stud loves the Tennessee Mare
The Tennessee Stud was long and lean
The color of the sun and his eyes were green
He had the nerve and he had the blood
There never was a horse like the Tennessee Stud

Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Rockin’ All Around the World

 Switching back to his own music, Joe next did Rockin’ All Around the World, a song that had appeared on the fifth Fish album,  CJ Fish.
Rock and roll music it sure sounds sweet
Makes you wanna get up and stomp your feet
Clap your hands and scream and shout
You know that rock and roll just knocks me out.
Rockin’ all around the world,
Rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world,
Rockin’ all around the world
Come on boys now haven’t you heard?
Come on girls did you get the word?
They’re rockin’ all around the world,
Rockin’ round the world.
Some people say country music is fine
Psychedelic music will blow your mind
Blues got soul and so does jazz
But nothing’s got the something Charlie rock and roll has.
Hey rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Come on boys now haven’t you heard?
Come on girls did you get the word?
They’re rockin’ all around the world,
Hey, rockin’ round the world.
Old folks don’t know, they can’t understand
The words and the music of a rock and roll band
But the kids in the schools and the hippies in the streets
Are doing their thing to a rock and roll beat.
Hey rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Come on boys now haven’t you heard?
Come on girls did you get the word?
They’re rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ round the world.
Rock and roll music it sure sounds sweet
Makes you wanna get up and stomp your feet
Clap your hands and scream and shout
You know that rock and roll just knocks me out.
Rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Rockin’ all around the world
Come on boys now haven’t you heard?
Come on girls did you get the word?
They’re rocking all around the world
Rocking rocking round the world you know
They’re rocking round the world yeah
They’re rocking round the world yeah
They’re rocking round the world yeah
They’re rocking round the world yeah
Rocking round, round, round
Rocking round, round, round
Rocking round, round, round
Rocking round, round, round
Rocking round, round, round
Rocking round, round, round
Rocking round, round the world yeah
Round the world, round
You know everybody’s rocking
You know everybody’s rocking
You know everybody’s rocking
You know everybody’s rocking
Rocking round, rocking round
Rocking round, rocking round.
Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

Flyin’ High

Joe continues with his own composition. Flyin’ High was the first cut on their first album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body, released on May 11, 1967

I was stuck on an LA freeway
Got rainwater in my boots
My thumbs done froze, can’t feel my toes
I’m feeling a little thirsty, too
Wheels throwin’ water all over my act
And Mr. Jones won’t lend me a hand
Up come two cats in a Cadillac
And they say won’t you hop in, man
I went flying high
All the way
All the way
The one that’s driving has got a Bowler hat
The other’s got a Fez on his head
They turn around and grin and I grin back
But not a word was said
So I took out my harp and I played ’em a tune
I could see they were diggin’ it
Then the one with the Fez, well he turns and he says
We’d like to help you make your trip
And I went flying high
All the way
All the way
He said we can’t leave him out in the rain
He just might freeze and die
So, why not put him on a plane
And send him home in the sky
So, they took me to the LA airport
Laid twenty dollars in my hand
Well, I paid my fair, I’m a millionaire
Flyin’ back home again
And I went flying high
All the way
Yah, all the way
All the way
You know I went flying high
All the way
Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

I Seen a Rocket

With a helicopter in the background and before beginning I Seen A Rocket,  Joe asked, “How much more time?”

Fish Cheer > I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die Rag

Things were going OK. No boos or requests called out, but no big cheers. Joe was what he was sent out to be. A placeholder.  Then it happened. The story is he asked his manager standing nearby by whether he should. The manager nodded yes. Whether the story is another spoonful of Woodstock Haze, we’ll never know. But he began the Fish cheer and went into the Fish’s best known song. As the Who would sing several hours later, the crowd went crazy.

Gimme an F! F!
Gimme an U! U!
Gimme an C! C!
Gimme an K! K!
What’s that spell? FUCK!
What’s that spell? FUCK!
What’s that spell? FUCK!
What’s that spell? FUCK!
What’s that spell? FUCK!
What’s that spell? FUCK!

Well, 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 lotta fun

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

Well, come on generals, let’s move fast
Your big chance has come at last
Now you can go out and get those reds
‘Cause 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

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

Come on Wall Street, don’t be slow
Why man, this is war au-go-go
There’s plenty good money to be made
By supplying the Army with the tools of its trade
But just hope and pray that if they drop the bomb
They drop it on the Viet Cong

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

Come on mothers throughout the land
Pack your boys off to Vietnam
Come on fathers, and don’t hesitate
To send your sons off before it’s too late
And you can be the first ones in your block
To have your boy come home in a box

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.

Along the way he tells the crowd that there’s about 300 thousand of you fuckers out there. How they gonna stop the war if they don’t sing.

Joe finished and the crowd called for more.

He came back with another round of the Rag.

Country Joe McDonald Woodstock

The next act was Santana.

Thanks for visiting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.