Country Joe's Place

My First Protest Song

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The first protest song I ever wrote was about the murder of three civil rights workers -- Shwerner, Cheney, and Goodman -- in Mississippi. It appeared in the first issue of Et Tu (August, 1964), a magazine I edited in Los Angeles. It was called "Epitaph for Three."


Cover of Et Tu #1

Click for larger sheet music.

Epitaph for Three
Copyright © 1964 by Joe McDonald
Listen: Listen to the song
1.
They went down with only love
To fight the wrongs of lies and hate.
To do what no one else had done,
A country's promise far too late.
And officials of the churches
And high offices of the land
All agreed but they stood by
And they never raised a hand.

Chorus:
Send the F.B.I.,
Send the C.I.A. too
Send em down to look around
And see what they can do.
But there aint no use a-trying
To wash away the stain
Flesh is torn. blood is spilt.
A nation hides its shame.

2.
Sunday in Neshoba*
Is not a day for God
The black smoke rises from a swamp,
The wagon** burned and charred.
Three men gone, then terror's King,
For bloody is their name.
Fresh blood for the Gods of Hate
And terror's King again.

Chorus:
Send the F.B.I.,
Send the C.I.A. too
Send em down to look around
And see what they can do.
But there aint no use a-trying
To wash away the stain
Flesh is torn. blood is spilt.
A nation hides its shame.

3.
Shot-gun blasts from a passing car.
Barbed wire to tear the flesh.
Bullets from the back of a bush
And swamps to hide the evidence.
How many more the years of lies
The tears from human eyes?
The black, caked blood of centuries gone.
The piercing human cries.

Chorus:
Send the F.B.I.,
Send the C.I.A. too
Send em down to look around
And see what they can do.
But there aint no use a-trying
To wash away the stain
Flesh is torn. blood is spilt.
A nation hides its shame.
With tears that flow, and sobs of grief
A nation hides its shame.

* "Bloody" Neshoba County, Mississippi, where the murders took place.
** The bodies were found in their station wagon.

And here, for comparison, is my latest protest song:

Support the Troops
Copyright © 2005 by Joe McDonald
Listen: Listen to the song
Beat the drum, wave the flag,
For those who wonít be coming back.
Numbers rising, build another Wall
For those who answered the Countryís call.

Support the troops
Support the troops

Gold Star Mothers, Gold Star Dads
Left with nothing but a folded flag.
Gold Star Brothers, Sisters too
Feel their pain, it could be you!

Support the troops
Support the troops

Chorus:
Chicken hawk, draft dodging, son Of A Bush
Look at all the damage you did!
American war in the Holy Land
Blood for oil, not in my name!
Oh, not in my name
Oh, not in my name
Oh, not in my name

Some day soon, donít know when
Weíll see the wounded women and men
Lining the walls of American streets
Hands out begging for something to eat.

Support the troops
Support the troops

Forgotten heroes from a forgotten war
Wondering "What were we fighting for?"
World War III around the bend
Thatís what we get with the George Bush Plan.

Support the troops
Support the troops

Chorus:
Chicken hawk, draft dodging, son Of A Bush
Look at all the damage you did!
American war in the Holy Land
Blood for oil, not in my name!
Oh, not in my name
Oh, not in my name
Oh, not in my name
Not in my name
American shame
Not in my name
American shame.

And here's my latest protest poem:

Cat Stevens used to be my name
I got famous riding on the Peace Train
Peace on Earth was my only wish
Got me put on the "No Fly List"

I was a Rock Star back in "The Day"
Living the "Life" but I changed my ways
Became a muslim, a religious guy
And that's reason why I can't fly.

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