Country Joe McDonald :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

49 years ago, on the second day of the Woodstock Music & Art Fair, Country Joe McDonald took to the stage to kill some time while Santana readied their set. While McDonald and his band the Fish are often associated with psychedelic rock, a named rattled in conjunction with the Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, or the Jefferson Airplane, McDonald was cut from a folk cloth. And on stage that day in upstate New York, his acoustic version of "The 'Fish' Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-to-Die Rag" became something of a folk standard, traded between counterculture heads and Vietnam soldiers and vets alike.

Early in 2018, Craft Recordings released a deluxe box set edition of the Fish's The Wave of Electrical Sound, featuring mono and stereo versions of their first two albums, I-Feel-Like-I-Am-Fixin'-To-Die and Electric Music for the Mind and Body, along with an unreleased protest film, and a slew of archival materials. The set captures Joe's charged spirit, and we sat down with him to discuss his recordings, Woodstock, and the politically harried times that surrounded him, along with his artistic connections to Janis Joplin, Grace Slick, and everyone’s favorite anti-hippie John Fahey.

Aquarium Drunkard: Hey Joe! I’m going to keep it pretty loose. I've got a handful of questions for you, but I'd rather just kind of see where you take it. I don't want to hit you over the head and make you answer a bunch of questions you've already been asked before.

Country Joe McDonald: Well if I don't like it, I won't answer it. [Laughs]

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