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Song Stories

“I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag”

Country Joe & the Fish | 1967

Though it was set to a jolly Dixieland tune, "I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" was one of the more scathing anti-Vietnam war protest songs, its gallows humor poking serious fun at the conflict's tragicomedy. Heirs of Kid Ory claimed it plagiarized the New Orleans jazz trombonist's 1927 song "Muskrat Ramble," though courts ruled in composer Country Joe McDonald's favor. As for the infamous "Gimme an F!" four-letter-word cheer that launched the song in the Woodstock film, McDonald told Rolling Stone, "We just got tired of saying 'fish,' so we just changed it."

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

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