.

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."

prev
Song Stories Main Next

Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
www.expandtheroom.com