This song was sung with Joe McDonald’s crystal clear voice over a oscillating organ dirge. The effect was mesmeric; the words chilling.
Back in the sixties the Vietnam War was raging and the younger generation did not think it was a valid war. They were being conscripted into an inferno because of the US foreign policy. It was a civil war that was turned into a confrontation between the superpowers China and the US. The concept mooted was that of the domino effect. There was a terror of communism (that still exists to today). The Viet-Cong used guile and terrorist tactics. The Us used Agent Orange, Cluster bombs, Napalm and millions of tons of TNT. They dropped more bombs than were used in the whole Second World War in an attempt to blow the Vietnamese back to stone-age.
The younger generation thought there was a better way. This was the age of peace and love.
Too many people were traumatised by war, killed or maimed; too many innocent civilians were caught up in the mayhem. The result was to create even more opposition to the US.
The perception was that it was the blacks and poor who got conscripted. The rich found ways to become exempt.
The anti-Vietnam War movement created social division between the young and old. It brought into relief, politics and patriotism. There was a different attitude towards people from other cultures, races and countries.
Country Joe and the Fish were an Acid Rock band who epitomised that new political stance.
Country Joe & The Fish – An Untitled Protest Lyrics
Red and swollen tears tumble from her eyes
While cold silver birds who came to cruise the skies
Send death down to bend and twist her tiny hands
And then proceed to target B in keeping with their plans
Khaki priests of Christendom, interpreters of love
Ride a stone Leviathan across a sea of blood
And pound their feet into the sand of shores they’ve never seen
Delegates from the western land to join the death machine
And we send cards and letters.
The oxen lie beside the road their bodies baked in mud
And fat flies chew out their eyes then bathe themselves in blood
And superheroes fill the skies, tally sheets in hand
Yes, keeping score in times of war takes a superman
The junk crawls past hidden death its cargo shakes inside
And soldier children hold their breath and kill them as they hide
And those who took so long to learn the subtle ways of death
Lie and bleed in paddy mud with questions on their breath
And we send prayers and praises.