Country Joe's Place

The "F" Cheer Problem


It was reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday March 28, 2004, pink section column "Pop Beat" that:
Barry Melton has secured an injunction against Country Joe McDonald barring him from using the "Fish Cheer." Melton, "The Fish," owns the name. McDonald says future renditions of "Fixing to Die Rag" will feature a cheer with a different four-letter word beginning with F.
I want to say that this report is not true. Barry "The Fish" Melton has not "secured an injunction" but as people know the "CHEER" has been a problem ever since its second incarnation at the Shaffer Beer Festival in NYC in the late 60s as the FUCK CHEER much different that the original FISH CHEER that appeared on the I Feel Like I'm Fixing To Die LP. There is a GOOD CHEER and a BAD CHEER and now with the Country Joe Band getting ready to go on the road "the problem" has surfaced again: how to make all our fans happy?! At the recent opening of the Tiburon Film Festival I did the FILM CHEER much to the enjoyment of all but it is easy to see that this would not be a good CHEER to use at all performances.

It has been suggested that the FART CHEER followed by "What's that smell" would be entertaining but it is easy to see that this would offend certain sections of the audience. It is true that Barry Melton is "The Fish" and he is not in the new Country Joe Band so it would seem to make sense that we do not do the FISH CHEER with the current Country Joe Band but then again it is hard to see how the FISH CHEER and Barry "The FIsh" Melton have any connection. But then again some might ask what does the FISH CHEER have to do with anything anyway? This is a fair question and I have no answer to this but ever since the Woodstock Festival of 1969 with it's movie and record album the second version of THE CHEER the infamous FUCK CHEER has been very popular. Some attendees to the festival even reported that yelling FUCK was the highlight of the festival for them. This of course is mind boggling to me as I always wanted to known as a sensitive poet not a person who taught a generation to yell an obscene word. But then again it seems to have given such younger generation acts like Snoop Doggy Dog an opportunity to have a prosperous career where as before that might not have been possible.

So I am still back to the current problem. It has always been my desire to just make nice music and be entertaining and perhaps make a small contribution to world peace. This June I am to be honored by receiving the World Peace Music Award! A large concert is planned for Hanoi, Vietnam at which people who contributed towards the end of the Vietnam War with their music will be honored. Of course it is because of my song "I Feel Like I'm Fixing To Die Rag" that I am getting the award but no one can separate that song from the CHEER that precedes it...can they? So we are back to the GOOD CHEER vs. the BAD CHEER thing again.

But it is further complicated by the language problem. In the 80s while touring Germany I was confronted with this problem while being interviewed on state owned television and radio. Interviewers often said FUCK when referring to the song and the Woodstock Festival. But this I found out was because the offensive word in German is FEIK not FUCK. FUCK is meaningless in German, while FEIK is not. So you can see what I mean? I do not know what FUCK means in Vietnamese nor what FISH means in Vietnamese. How would the Vietnamese Government and the audience respond to a FUCK CHEER in Hanoi? Or a FISH CHEER? I do know that American GIs found Vietnamese fish sauce to be a very hard taste to get used to. There is also the larger problem of American/Vietnamese relations in the post Vietnam War era. The Vietnamese Government has expressed a desire to be "forward thinking" and I must ask myself is the FUCK CHEER or the FISH CHEER "forward thinking" or actually "backward thinking"? As I will be representing the City of Berkeley, California I must ask myself: What is the politically correct thing to do?

But as many people know the popularity of the Vietnamese noodle dish PHUC has sweep modern Vietnam and the new American Vietnamese Community and this has nothing it seems to do with fighting the Vietnam War. So perhaps the best solution is the introduce a new PHUC CHEER when performing the old "I Feel Like I'm Fixing To Die Rag." I know this would be confusing but perhaps not offensive and "forward thinking" except of course to those on low carb diets. But of course this would be historically incorrect perhaps causing generations in the future to ask: What does PHUC -- Vietnamese noodles -- have to do with the lyric "Whoopie we're all gonna die"? Perhaps bringing the PHUC noodle companies to get an injunction barring me from ever performing the PHUC CHEER with the "I Feel Like I'm Fixing To Die Rag" song because it would create the impression that those noodles would cause a person to "die" bringing groups of suicidal persons to start eating too large portions of PHUC noodles.

-- cheers, Country Joe McDonald, Berkeley, California, April 1, 2004

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