A music genre is a conventional category that identifies some pieces of music as belonging to a shared tradition or set of conventions. It is to be distinguished from musical form and musical style, although in practice these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. Academics have argued that categorizing music by genre is inaccurate and outdated. Music can be divided into different genres in many different ways; the artistic nature of music means that these classifications are subjective and controversial, some genres may overlap. There are varying academic definitions of the term genre itself. In his book Form in Tonal Music, Douglass M. Green distinguishes between form, he lists madrigal, canzona and dance as examples of genres from the Renaissance period. To further clarify the meaning of genre, Green writes, "Beethoven's Op. 61 and Mendelssohn's Op. 64 are identical in genre – both are violin concertos – but different in form. However, Mozart's Rondo for Piano, K. 511, the Agnus Dei from his Mass, K. 317 are quite different in genre but happen to be similar in form."
Some, like Peter van der Merwe, treat the terms genre and style as the same, saying that genre should be defined as pieces of music that share a certain style or "basic musical language." Others, such as Allan F. Moore, state that genre and style are two separate terms, that secondary characteristics such as subject matter can differentiate between genres. A music genre or subgenre may be defined by the musical techniques, the style, the cultural context, the content and spirit of the themes. Geographical origin is sometimes used to identify a music genre, though a single geographical category will include a wide variety of subgenres. Timothy Laurie argues that since the early 1980s, "genre has graduated from being a subset of popular music studies to being an ubiquitous framework for constituting and evaluating musical research objects". Among the criteria used to classify musical genres are the trichotomy of art and traditional musics. Alternatively, music can be divided on three variables: arousal and depth.
Arousal reflects the energy level of the music. These three variables help explain why many people like similar songs from different traditionally segregated genres. Musicologists have sometimes classified music according to a trichotomic distinction such as Philip Tagg's "axiomatic triangle consisting of'folk','art' and'popular' musics", he explains that each of these three is distinguishable from the others according to certain criteria. The term art music refers to classical traditions, including both contemporary and historical classical music forms. Art music exists in many parts of the world, it emphasizes formal styles that invite technical and detailed deconstruction and criticism, demand focused attention from the listener. In Western practice, art music is considered a written musical tradition, preserved in some form of music notation rather than being transmitted orally, by rote, or in recordings, as popular and traditional music are. Most western art music has been written down using the standard forms of music notation that evolved in Europe, beginning well before the Renaissance and reaching its maturity in the Romantic period.
The identity of a "work" or "piece" of art music is defined by the notated version rather than by a particular performance, is associated with the composer rather than the performer. This is so in the case of western classical music. Art music may include certain forms of jazz, though some feel that jazz is a form of popular music. Sacred Christian music forms an important part of the classical music tradition and repertoire, but can be considered to have an identity of its own; the term popular music refers to any musical style accessible to the general public and disseminated by the mass media. Musicologist and popular music specialist Philip Tagg defined the notion in the light of sociocultural and economical aspects: Popular music, unlike art music, is conceived for mass distribution to large and socioculturally heterogeneous groups of listeners and distributed in non-written form, only possible in an industrial monetary economy where it becomes a commodity and in capitalist societies, subject to the laws of'free' enterprise... it should ideally sell as much as possible.
Popular music is found on most commercial and public service radio stations, in most commercial music retailers and department stores, in movie and television soundtracks. It is noted on the Billboard charts and, in addition to singer-songwriters and composers, it involves music producers more than other genres do; the distinction between classical and popular music has sometimes been blurred in marginal areas such as minimalist music and light classics. Background music for films/movies draws on both traditions. In this respect, music is like fiction, which draws a distinction between literary fiction and popular fiction, not always precise. Country music known as country and western, hillbilly music, is a genre of popular music that originated in the southern United States in the early 1920s; the polka is a Czech dance and genre of dance music familiar throughout Europe and the Americas. Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and particular
Together (Country Joe and the Fish album)
Together is the third album by the San Francisco psychedelic rock band, Country Joe and the Fish, released in 1968. Before recording, Country Joe McDonald left, so for developments with the band, they were addressed just as "The Fish". McDonald would return in time for recording sessions so the name change was brief. Although it was not considered their strongest work since McDonald's superior songwriting presence was absent, Together still was the most financially successful output from the band. Melton and "Chicken" Hirsh take the role as main songwriters, creating variously different tracks in regard to style; the album begins with a tribute to James Brown with the track "Rock and Soul Music". From there, the band continues its development of psychedelic music with the theme of love and life for their songs. Evidently, the band were still against the Vietnam War as the track "Untitled Protest" suggest; the organ played on the song was called "Death Mantra", the name bestowed upon by McDonald.
With the success of the album, the band embarked on a national tour, dubbed a success thanks, in part, to their light shows. Country Joe would be filled in by studio musicians; this is a beginning of the personnel changes involved with the band's next two albums. Barthol would leave in the following month and Cohen and Hirsh would follow out in January 1969. "Rock and Soul Music" – 6:51 "Susan" - 3:28 "Mojo Navigator" - 2:23 "Bright Suburban Mr. & Mrs. Clean Machine" - 2:19 "Good Guys/Bad Guys Cheer / The Streets of Your Town" - 3:43 "The Fish Moan" - 0:27 "The Harlem Song" - 4:19 "Waltzing in the Moonlight" - 2:13 "Away Bounce My Bubbles" - 2:25 "Cetacean" - 3:38 "An Untitled Protest" - 2:45 Country Joe and the FishCountry Joe McDonald - vocals, rhythm guitar Barry Melton - vocals, lead guitar David Cohen - guitar, piano Bruce Barthol - bass, vocals Gary "Chicken" Hirsh - drums, bells Billboard 200 - No. 23
Country Joe McDonald
Joseph Allen "Country Joe" McDonald is an American musician, the lead singer of the 1960s psychedelic rock group Country Joe and the Fish. McDonald was born in Washington, DC, grew up in El Monte, where he was student conductor and president of his high school marching band. At the age of 17, he was stationed in Japan. After his enlistment, he attended Los Angeles City College for a year. In the early 1960s, he began busking on Telegraph Avenue in California, his father, Worden McDonald, from Oklahoma, was of Scottish Presbyterian heritage, worked for a telephone company. His mother, Florence Plotnick, was the daughter of Russian Jewish immigrants and served for many years on the Berkeley City Council. In their youth, both were Communist Party members before renouncing the cause, named their son after Joseph Stalin. McDonald has written hundreds of songs over a career spanning 40 years. In 1965, he and Barry Melton co-founded Country Joe & the Fish which became a pioneer psychedelic rock band with their eclectic performances at the Avalon Ballroom, the Fillmore, the Monterey Pop Festival, both the original and 1979 reunion Woodstock Festivals.
Their best known song is his "The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag", a black comedy novelty song about the Vietnam War, whose familiar chorus is well-known to the Woodstock generation and Vietnam veterans of the 1960s and'70s. McDonald wrote the song in about 20 minutes for an anti-Vietnam War play; the "Fish Cheer" was the band performing a call-and-response with the audience, spelling the word "fish", followed by Country Joe yelling, "What's that spell?" twice, with the audience responding, the third time, "What's that spell?", followed by the song. The "Fish Cheer" evolved into the "Fuck Cheer" after the Berkeley free speech movement; the cheer was on the original recording of "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag", being played right before the song on the LP of the same name. The cheer became popular and the crowd would spell out F-I-S-H when the band performed live. During the summer of 1968 the band played on the Schaefer Music Festival tour. Gary "Chicken" Hirsh suggested before one of the shows to spell the word "fuck" instead of "fish".
Although the crowd loved it, the management of the Schaefer Beer Festival did not and kicked the band off the tour for life. The Ed Sullivan Show canceled a scheduled appearance by the band, telling them to keep the money they had been paid in exchange for never playing on the show; the modified cheer continued at most of the band's live shows throughout the years, including Woodstock and elsewhere. In Massachusetts, McDonald was fined $500 for uttering "fuck" in public. McDonald subsequently embarked on a solo career. One of his solo albums, the 1973 Vanguard LP Paris Sessions, was reviewed by Robert Christgau in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies, in which he said: "Amazing; the man has written feminist songs that are both sensible. Despite the real/honest prison poem and the silly, outdated record fan routines, his best in about five years." In 2003 McDonald was sued for copyright infringement over his signature song the "One, three, what are we fighting for?" Chorus part, as derived from the 1926 early jazz classic "Muskrat Ramble", co-written by Kid Ory.
The suit was brought by Ory's daughter Babette. Since decades had passed from the time McDonald composed his song in 1965, Ory based her suit on a new version of it recorded by McDonald in 1999; the court however upheld McDonald's laches defense, noting that Ory and her father were aware of the original version of the song, with the same questionable section, for some three decades without bringing a suit. In 2006, Ory was ordered to pay McDonald $395,000 for attorney fees and had to sell her copyrights to do so. In 2004, McDonald regrouped with three of the original members of Country Joe and the Fish and they toured the United States and the United Kingdom as the "Country Joe Band". In the spring of 2005, McDonald joined a larger protest against California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's proposed budget cuts at the California State Capitol Building. In the fall of 2005, political commentator Bill O'Reilly compared McDonald to Cuban President Fidel Castro, remarking on McDonald's involvement in Cindy Sheehan's protests against the Iraq War.
In 2015, McDonald, formed The Electric Music Band. The band has performed'Electric Music For The Mind And Body' in its entirety, band members include Palao, The Rain Parade's Matt Piucci and Derek See of The Chocolate Watchband. In 2017, McDonald released an album on his own Rag Baby label entitled "50". McDonald was married to Kathe Werum from 1963 to 1966 and married Robin Menken a year after his divorce from Werum. In 1968, Menken gave birth to Seven Anne McDonald, in San Francisco. Seven a columnist for LA Weekly and now a movie producer and artist manager, had a previous career as a TV child actor in the late 1970s and early 1980s, managed Johnny Depp's Viper Room nightclub and the alternative rock band Smashing Pumpkins in the 1990s, wrote for Details and Harper's Bazaar magazines in the 1990s and 2000s. According to Ron Cabral's biography on Country Joe and the Fish, Seven was the subject of and inspiration behind the song Silver and Gold. McDonal
Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, still the magazine's publisher, the music critic Ralph J. Gleason, it was first known for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content. Rolling Stone Press is the magazine's associated book publishing imprint. Straight Arrow Press was the magazine's associated book publishing imprint, Straight Arrow Publishing Co. Inc. was the publishing company that published Rolling Stone. Rolling Stone magazine was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Ralph Gleason. To get it off the ground, Wenner borrowed $7,500 from his own family and from the parents of his soon-to-be wife, Jane Schindelheim; the first issue carried a cover date of November 9, 1967, was in newspaper format with a lead article on the Monterey Pop Festival.
The cover price was 25¢. In the first issue, Wenner explained that the title of the magazine referred to the 1950 blues song "Rollin' Stone", recorded by Muddy Waters, Bob Dylan's hit single "Like a Rolling Stone": You're wondering what we're trying to do. It's hard to say: sort of a sort of a newspaper; the name of it is Rolling Stone which comes from an old saying, "A rolling stone gathers no moss." Muddy Waters used the name for a song. The Rolling Stones took their name from Muddy's song. "Like a Rolling Stone" was the title of Bob Dylan's first rock and roll record. We have begun a new publication reflecting what we see are the changes in rock and roll and the changes related to rock and roll."—Jann Wenner, Rolling Stone, November 9, 1967, p. 2 Some authors have attributed the name to Dylan's hit single: "At Gleason's suggestion, Wenner named his magazine after a Bob Dylan song." Rolling Stone identified with and reported the hippie counterculture of the era. However, it distanced itself from the underground newspapers of the time, such as Berkeley Barb, embracing more traditional journalistic standards and avoiding the radical politics of the underground press.
In the first edition, Wenner wrote that Rolling Stone "is not just about the music, but about the things and attitudes that music embraces". In the 1970s, Rolling Stone began to make a mark with its political coverage, with the likes of gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson writing for the magazine's political section. Thompson first published his most famous work Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas within the pages of Rolling Stone, where he remained a contributing editor until his death in 2005. In the 1970s, the magazine helped launch the careers of many prominent authors, including Cameron Crowe, Lester Bangs, Joe Klein, Joe Eszterhas, Ben Fong-Torres, Patti Smith and P. J. O'Rourke, it was at this point that the magazine ran some of its most famous stories, including that of the Patty Hearst abduction odyssey. One interviewer, speaking for a large number of his peers, said that he bought his first copy of the magazine upon initial arrival on his college campus, describing it as a "rite of passage".
In 1977, the magazine moved its headquarters from San Francisco to New York City. Editor Jann Wenner said San Francisco had become "a cultural backwater". During the 1980s, the magazine began to shift towards being a general "entertainment" magazine. Music was still a dominant topic, but there was increasing coverage of celebrities in television and the pop culture of the day; the magazine initiated its annual "Hot Issue" during this time. Rolling Stone was known for its musical coverage and for Thompson's political reporting. In the 1990s, the magazine changed its format to appeal to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors and popular music; this led to criticism. In recent years, the magazine has resumed its traditional mix of content, including in-depth political stories, it has expanded content to include coverage of financial and banking issues. As a result, the magazine has seen its circulation increase and its reporters invited as experts to network television programs of note.
The printed format has gone through several changes. The first publications, in 1967–72, were in folded tabloid newspaper format, with no staples, black ink text, a single color highlight that changed each edition. From 1973 onwards, editions were produced on a four-color press with a different newsprint paper size. In 1979, the bar code appeared. In 1980, it became a large format magazine; as of edition of October 30, 2008, Rolling Stone has had a smaller, standard-format magazine size. After years of declining readership, the magazine experienced a major resurgence of interest and relevance with the work of two young journalists in the late 2000s, Michael Hastings and Matt Taibbi. In 2005, Dana Leslie Fields, former publisher of Rolling Stone, who had worked at the magazine for 17 years, was an inaugural inductee into the Magazine Hall of Fame. In 2009, Taibbi unleashed an acclaimed series of scathing reports on the financial meltdown of the time, he famously described Goldman Sachs as "a great vampire squid".
Bigger headlines came at the end of June 2010. Rolling Stone caused a controversy in the White House by publishing in the July issue an article by journalist Michael Hastings entitled, "The Runaway General", quoting criticism by General Stanley A. McChrystal, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U. S. Forces-Afghanistan commander, about Vice President Joe Biden and oth
A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has varying roles during the recording process, they may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements. A producer may also: Select session musicians to play rhythm section accompaniment parts or solos Co-write Propose changes to the song arrangements Coach the singers and musicians in the studioThe producer supervises the entire process from preproduction, through to the sound recording and mixing stages, and, in some cases, all the way to the audio mastering stage; the producer may perform these roles themselves, or help select the engineer, provide suggestions to the engineer. The producer may pay session musicians and engineers and ensure that the entire project is completed within the record label's budget.
A record producer or music producer has a broad role in overseeing and managing the recording and production of a band or performer's music. A producer has many roles that may include, but are not limited to, gathering ideas for the project, composing the music for the project, selecting songs or session musicians, proposing changes to the song arrangements, coaching the artist and musicians in the studio, controlling the recording sessions, supervising the entire process through audio mixing and, in some cases, to the audio mastering stage. Producers often take on a wider entrepreneurial role, with responsibility for the budget, schedules and negotiations. Writer Chris Deville explains it, "Sometimes a producer functions like a creative consultant — someone who helps a band achieve a certain aesthetic, or who comes up with the perfect violin part to complement the vocal melody, or who insists that a chorus should be a bridge. Other times a producer will build a complete piece of music from the ground up and present the finished product to a vocalist, like Metro Boomin supplying Future with readymade beats or Jack Antonoff letting Taylor Swift add lyrics and melody to an otherwise-finished “Out Of The Woods.”The artist of an album may not be a record producer or music producer for his/her album.
While both contribute creatively, the official credit of "record producer" may depend on the record contract. Christina Aguilera, for example, did not receive record producer credits until many albums into her career. In the 2010s, the producer role is sometimes divided among up to three different individuals: executive producer, vocal producer and music producer. An executive producer oversees project finances, a vocal producers oversees the vocal production, a music producer oversees the creative process of recording and mixings; the music producer is often a competent arranger, musician or songwriter who can bring fresh ideas to a project. As well as making any songwriting and arrangement adjustments, the producer selects and/or collaborates with the mixing engineer, who takes the raw recorded tracks and edits and modifies them with hardware and software tools to create a stereo or surround sound "mix" of all the individual voices sounds and instruments, in turn given further adjustment by a mastering engineer for the various distribution media.
The producer oversees the recording engineer who concentrates on the technical aspects of recording. Noted producer Phil Ek described his role as "the person who creatively guides or directs the process of making a record", like a director would a movie. Indeed, in Bollywood music, the designation is music director; the music producer's job is to create and mold a piece of music. The scope of responsibility may be one or two songs or an artist's entire album – in which case the producer will develop an overall vision for the album and how the various songs may interrelate. At the beginning of record industry, the producer role was technically limited to record, in one shot, artists performing live; the immediate predecessors to record producers were the artists and repertoire executives of the late 1920s and 1930s who oversaw the "pop" product and led session orchestras. That was the case of Ben Selvin at Columbia Records, Nathaniel Shilkret at Victor Records and Bob Haring at Brunswick Records.
By the end of the 1930s, the first professional recording studios not owned by the major companies were established separating the roles of A&R man and producer, although it wouldn't be until the late 1940s when the term "producer" became used in the industry. The role of producers changed progressively over the 1960s due to technology; the development of multitrack recording caused a major change in the recording process. Before multitracking, all the elements of a song had to be performed simultaneously. All of these singers and musicians had to be assembled in a large studio where the performance was recorded. With multitrack recording, the "bed tracks" (rhythm section accompaniment parts such as the bassline and rhythm guitar could be recorded first, the vocals and solos could be added using as many "takes" as necessary, it was no longer necessary to get all the players in the studio at the same time. A pop band could record their backing tracks one week, a horn section could be brought in a week to add horn shots and punches, a string section could be brought in a week after that.
Multitrack recording had another pro
Country Joe and the Fish
Country Joe and the Fish was an American psychedelic rock band formed in Berkeley, California, in 1965. The band was among the influential groups in the San Francisco music scene during the mid- to late 1960s. Much of the band's music was written by founding members Country Joe McDonald and Barry "The Fish" Melton, with lyrics pointedly addressing issues of importance to the counterculture, such as anti-war protests, free love, recreational drug use. Through a combination of psychedelia and electronic music, the band's sound was marked by innovative guitar melodies and distorted organ-driven instrumentals which were significant to the development of acid rock; the band self-produced two EPs that drew attention on the underground circuit before signing to Vanguard Records in 1966. Their debut album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body, followed in 1967, it contained their only nationally charting single, "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine", their most experimental arrangements. Their second album, I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die, was released in late 1967.
Further success followed, including McDonald's appearance at Woodstock, but the group's lineup underwent changes until its disbandment in 1970. Members of the band continue in the music industry as solo recording artists and sporadically reconvene; the first lineup of Country Joe and the Fish formed in mid-1965, when Country Joe McDonald and Barry "The Fish" Melton came together as a duo. The two musicians had a background rooted in folk music, were enamored with the recordings of Woody Guthrie, worked on the local acoustic coffeehouse circuit in the early 1960s. Melton honed his political protest prowess as a guitarist in Los Angeles, at venues such as the Ash Grove, before relocating to Berkeley, where he was a regular at the Jabberwock cafe. Prior to the group, McDonald set up two folk and jug bands, the Berkeley String Quartet and the Instant Jug Band, both of which served as outlets for his original material, with the latter group including Melton. In addition, McDonald was a publisher of the left-wing underground magazine Et Tu Brute, which became Rag Baby, containing poetry and political messages.
By early 1965, McDonald had become involved in the burgeoning folk scene in Berkeley, the Free Speech Movement, organizing demonstrations in University of California, which opposed the war in Vietnam. Not long afterwards, McDonald was inspired to record a "talking issue" of his magazine, organized Country Joe and the Fish with Melton and fellow musicians Carl Schrager, Bill Steele, Mike Beardslee, out of both necessity of a recording alias and political device, to self-produce an extended play. ED Denson, the co-publisher of Rag Baby, introduced McDonald to Chris Strachwitz, who owned Arhoolie Recording Studios, to self-produce the EP. Sensing the band's potential, Denson assumed management control, was responsible for coining the group's name—a reference to Josef Stalin and to Mao Zedong's description of revolutionaries as "the fish who swim in the sea of the people". McDonald, who had recording experience, began utilizing Arhoolie Recording Studios to record four songs split between the band and a local folk musician, Peter Krug.
It was during this time at Arhoolie Records that Country Joe and the Fish's folk sound and political protest prowess—an amalgam of their own Guthrie-influenced material and their folk music roots—began to emerge. The band's side of the EP featured two originals by McDonald, an acoustic version of "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die Rag", "Superbird". According to McDonald, "The Fish Cheer" was written in 30 minutes, with a purpose of expressing satiric and dark commentary on the US's involvement in the Vietnam War. In October 1965, 100 copies of the EP, titled Rag Baby Talking Issue No. 1, were distributed on McDonald's independent label at a Teach-in in UC Berkeley and underground shops selling Rag Baby magazine. For a brief period, McDonald and Melton performed together as a duo at college campuses in the Northwest on behalf of Students for a Democratic Society before returning as regulars at the Jabberwock cafe; the two were joined by local jug band musicians, including Melton's roommates, bass player Bruce Barthol and guitarist Paul Armstrong, bluegrass guitarist David Bennett Cohen, with whom Melton played in another jug band.
The addition of drummer John Francis-Gunning rounded out the six-piece ensemble. It was during their residency at the Jabberwock that Country Joe and the Fish learned to play as a group and expand their repertoire. Within months, based on McDonald and Melton's interest in the live performances of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the recordings on Bob Dylan's album, Highway 61 Revisited, their use of the mind-altering drug LSD, the group began equipping themselves with electric instruments and delving more into psychedelia; as a result, Cohen was moved over to the organ. Cohen's experience with keyboards was limited to having played piano at a semiprofessional capacity at the Jabberwock, nonetheless, he adapted to the qualities of the instrument. Melton describes the change of the group: "Once we hit into the electric medium and into the rock medium, we were pandering to the public taste. We became extraordinarily popular; the little folk club where we used to play once every two weeks, we played every single night for a month, or something like that, filled it.
And after a while we filled two shows every single night". As Country Joe and the Fish's popularity grew, the band relocated to San Francisco in early 1966 and became popular fixtures at the Avalon and th
The "Fish" Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag
"I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" is a song by the American psychedelic rock band Country Joe and the Fish, written by Country Joe McDonald, first released as the opening track on the extended play Rag Baby Talking Issue No. 1, in October 1965. "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag"'s dark humor and satire made it one of the most recognized protest songs against the Vietnam War. Critics cite the composition as a classic of the counterculture era; the song was preceded by "The Fish Cheer", a cheer spelling out "F-I-S-H". An altered version of the cheer, performed in live performances, known as "The Fuck Cheer", resulted in a television ban for Country Joe and the Fish in 1968, for the vulgarity, but was applauded by concert-goers. "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" saw a more commercial release on the group's second album, I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die, distributed in November 1967. The song was a favorite among the hippie culture, was featured in McDonald's set list at the Woodstock Festival in 1969.
Decades McDonald had a lawsuit filed against him for infringing on the copyright of Kid Ory's tune, "Muskrat Ramble". McDonald denied these allegations and the suit was dismissed. Although the song achieved national notoriety when it was included on Country Joe and the Fish's second album, I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die, it was first composed and distributed two years prior. In 1965, Country Joe McDonald founded and edited for a local counterculture magazine in Berkeley, which he called Rag Baby – a Bay Area adaptation of the folk magazine Broadside. McDonald published four editions of the magazine, sought to incorporate musical influences to support Rag Baby's left-wing message. To accommodate the issue, McDonald was inspired to distribute a "talking issue" of the magazine, an extended play called Rag Baby Talking Issue No. 1. In June 1965, an early incarnation of Country Joe and the Fish recorded an acoustic version of "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag", the debut album track, "Superbird", two other songs by local folk musician, Peter Krug at Arhoolie Records Studios, under the guidance of record producer Chris Strachwitz.
According to McDonald, the rag was written in under 30 minutes with a conscious purpose of reflecting on the escalation of the Vietnam War, while he composed another song, "Who Am I", relating to the US's increasing armed involvement. About 100 copies of the EP were pressed on McDonald's independent label and, were sold at Sproul Plaza in UC Berkeley, during a Teach-in, in underground stores that stocked Rag Baby; the song's lyrics are about placing blame on American politicians, high-level military officers, industry corporations on starting the Vietnam War. McDonald composed "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" in the summer of 1965, just as the U. S.'s military involvement was increasing, was intensively opposed by the young generation. It expresses discontent towards the process of conscription, through the use of dark humor, culminating in a reflection of casualties of the war, as hinted in the satirical invitation to "be the first one on your block, to have your son come home in a box".
In addition, the song features a signature chorus: And it's one, three, what are we fighting for? Don't ask me I don't give a damn Next stop is Vietnam, and it's five, seven, open up the pearly gates, Well there ain't no time to wonder why, Whoopie! We're all gonna die! The album version concludes with the uttering of several light machine guns firing and a final explosion, evoking the dropping of another atomic bomb. After a brief stint performing as a duo in Berkley, McDonald and Melton recruited more members and signed a recording contract with Vanguard Records in December 1966. Inspired by the live performances of Bob Dylan and The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the group became intertwined in electronic rock, recorded a new electrified version of "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" in Sierra Sound Laboratories, in February 1967; the song was going to be featured on Country Joe and the Fish's debut album, Electric Music for the Mind and Body, but record producer Sam Charters insisted that the track remain off the record.
When the controversial composition, "Superbird", was not banned from airplay, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" was placed as the opening to their second album, I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die. The song was a popular attraction in the band's live performance, and, in the summer of 1968, the first instance of altered version known as "The Fuck Cheer" appeared in New York City at the Shaefer Summer Music Festival, among a crowd of nearly 10,000. Drummer Gary "Chicken" Hirsh suggested that the opening chorus spell out "fuck", positively received by younger listeners, led to unexpected radio exposure of the album version on both alternative radio stations and AM radio. Although Hirsh has never explained why he made the change, writer James E. Perone has speculated in his book Songs of the Vietnam Conflict that it was a "rebellious counterculture political act demonstrating free speech rights in the mid-1960s". However, executives from The Ed Sullivan Show were present at the concert, barred Country Joe and the Fish from their scheduled appearance and any future performances on the show.
On August 16, 1969, the second day of the Woodstock Festival, McDonald made an unexpected solo performance of "The Fuck Cheer" at the conclusion of his set list, after Quill. McDonald was holstered with a rope. According to McDonald, "I went on with my guitar and it was like'Here is this guy who's going to sing' but no one paid any attention. I played'Janis' and'Tennessee Stud' and I walked off the stage. I asked my tour m