Country Joe and the Fish

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Evidence of the protest song’s prominence during times of stress and upheaval is pervasive in every major movement in American History. From the American Revolution up until the Vietnam War, songwriters have looked for ways to express their feelings about social issues and government decrees. Country Joe McDonald’s “I Feel like I’m Fixen to Die Rag”, more commonly known as “The Fish Cheer”, became “the most famous anti-war song in the country” (Lynskey, 87) through black humor which cleverly depicts a sense of hopelessness and loss for the young generation during the Vietnam war. As a protest song, “The Fish Cheer” became so infectious one couldn't help but sing along to its iconic tune. This compelled a sense of unity, which in turn helped groups organize to change how the nation viewed the war. Country Joe McDonald’s song emphasizes a misunderstanding between the young radicals of society and their leaders, “And it’s 1,2,3, what’re we fighting for? / Don’t ask me, I don’t give a damn” (14-15). An increasingly noticeable ‘generation gap’ started to widen as U.S. News & World Report “assured its readers that Vietnam was a “local war... Big war is not threatened” (Lynskey 89). However, when President Johnson and other military advisors mixed-up events, possibly deliberately, to claim that North Vietnam had just attacked the US naval force in the Gulf of Tonkin- an incident which later proved to be a minor naval clash (Prados 1) and used this conflict as a premise to launch a full scale invasion of the communist state, the antiwar movement consolidated with great speed. This ‘military police action’ became a war overseas and instigated violence between young protesters and the government. Vietnam was not just a war zone, it was the catalyst for most of the dissent in the nation’s discourse throughout the second half of the 1960s. For the liberals of society, the

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