If you point out the name Nation Joe & the Seafood to Americans given birth to in 1955 or previously, chances are that they can know the music group you’re discussing, a minimum of to the amount which they know their most widely played and quoted music, “PERSONALLY I THINK Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag.” The issue is, that one music captured only the tiniest sliver of who Nation Joe & the Seafood had been or what these were about. Among the original & most popular from the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA Bay Region psychedelic bands, these were also essentially the most enigmatic, with regards to who they in fact had been, and acquired the longest and strangest gestation into learning to be a rock-band. And Joe McDonald might have written probably the most in-your-face antiwar, anti-military melody to emerge from the 1960s, but he was also among the very few music artists on the SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA picture who’d offered in uniform. Created on January 1, 1942, to an extremely leftist-oriented family members, Joe McDonald was called honoring Soviet innovator Joseph Stalin. (Within the framework of World Battle II, Stalin was deemed by many on the still left — and also some apolitical observers — in america and somewhere else as heroic, to be Hitler and Nazi Germany’s biggest nemesis, at the same time when the government authorities of Britain, France, and america received to waffling and dithering over how to proceed about German militarism; the an incredible number of deaths inside the Soviet Union that Stalin is currently blamed weren’t however known.) McDonald grew up within the LA suburb of Un Monte, where he was raised encircled by all types of politics activity, to get labor unions along with other leftist and intensifying causes. He was also subjected to a massive quantity of music, which range from R&B to Dixieland jazz. Between your Un Monte Legion Stadium as well as the Lighthouse Membership at Hermosa Seaside, McDonald got a broad musical education — his very own early gigs had been being a trombonist in jazz clothes along with a guitarist in folk groupings. He spent a lot of the early ’60s offering a hitch in america Navy, where he enlisted at age group 18. On time for civilian lifestyle in 1964, McDonald resumed playing music and lower his initial record, in cooperation with Blair Hardman in 1964, entitled The Goodbye Blues, and in addition started editing and enhancing a radical mag known as Et Tu. Immediately after, McDonald going for Berkeley, CA — his standard purpose was to wait university, but he quickly became an integral part of the city’s burgeoning folk music picture, which used 1 / 2 of his period. He mainly worked single, playing tunes by Pete Seeger, Lee Hays, and Woody Guthrie, interspersed having a gradually developing body of his personal compositions. The spouse was specialized in politics — the city’s politics, specifically the campus from the University or college of California, had been liberal, but because the 1960s advanced, the remaining started exerting an ever louder tone of voice around the campus, with the Totally free Speech Movement along with other protest promotions, initially to obtain Reserve Officer Teaching Corps employers barred from your campus and later on to start the university’s conversation and politics environment; Vietnam wasn’t however a central concern, but issues such as for example civil privileges, the financial embargo of Cuba, the functioning condition of migrant plantation laborers, the American function in years of repressive politics from the Dominican Republic, along with a Kennedy-era international policy initiative known as Food for Tranquility had been all in the plan at various moments. McDonald was an all natural suit, and after some single performances he produced his two groupings: one — even more precisely arranged — known as the Berkeley String Quartet together with Bob Cooper on 12-string, Tom Lightjheiser on bass, and Carl Shrager playing washboard and doubling on electric guitar; as well as the other, the moment Action Jug Music group. The last mentioned, by its extremely nature, acquired a floating account of as much as a dozen music artists, not absolutely all of whom would always show up at every gig — these were type of like musical minutemen from the still left, intended to arrive on the moment’s see at whatever rally or road demonstration may be announced or sprout, on or from the campus. The jug band’s rates included Barry Melton, a prodigiously talented Brooklyn-born, Los Angeles-raised guitarist and vocalist who, in his mid-teens, experienced currently amassed some severe carrying out credits at locations like the Ash Grove before his family members relocated to Berkeley. From their get in touch with and the moment Action Jug Music group grew Nation Joe & the Seafood, initially like a documenting alias. Among McDonald’s alternative activities in 1965, he was posting a radical journal known as Rag Baby. Accounts differ on the problem of the way the music aspect of Rag Baby came into being — some state that sooner or later, McDonald discovered himself with an increase of music than content readily available and made a decision to released a “speaking issue” from the journal; other accounts state that he noticed the necessity for the music to greatly help support the journal and the reason, and thought they can sell copies of the records at presentations. Assuming the last mentioned is true, it could make Nation Joe & the Seafood among the 1st — otherwise the very first — music action to make use of self-produced records to market themselves straight. He’d currently cut an record independently and understood a bit about obtaining records produced and pressed, and the effect was the Rag Baby EP, with four music, two by Nation Joe & the Fish and two by way of a singer called Peter Krug, which noticed the light of day time in Oct of 1965. That lineup for Nation Joe & the Seafood, furthermore to McDonald on harmonica, classical guitar, and vocals, included Melton on vocals and guitar, plus Shrager on washboard and kazoo, Expenses Steele on washtub bass, and Mike Beardslee on vocals. Nation Joe & the Seafood was a bargain name, suggested by ED Denson, an early on member as well as the group’s supervisor — he quoted Chinese language communist innovator Mao Zedong in regards to a groundbreaking resembling “the seafood who swim in the ocean of individuals”; there is also some believed directed at the name “Nation Mao & the Seafood.” Rather, they utilized “Nation Joe” like a mention of McDonald, who was simply their vocalist and, just as much as there is any business to it whatsoever, the organizer of the group, in addition to a mention of Joseph Stalin — “Nation Joe” was a nickname for the Soviet dictator. Eventually, the name demonstrated a heart stroke of genius, simultaneously funny towards the totally uninformed and provocative to the people few who found the references, in addition to a goof on the normal, pop-oriented music group names within an period filled with functions like Paul Revere & the Raiders, Barry & the Remains to be, Mouse & the Traps, et al. It had been such a great choice on a lot of levels, that it had been nearly subversive, and also, subversive on amounts that all of these parents who concerned over rock and roll & roll under no circumstances also dreamt of. And provided McDonald’s and Melton’s politics, the name was better still than general evaluation would lead someone to believe — in 1965, hardly a decade following the peak from the McCarthy period as well as the Crimson Scare, with California currently the home from the John Birch Culture (a right-wing firm whose founding credo included the idea that Leader [and previous General from the Military] Dwight D. Eisenhower was a communist stooge), the meanings that proceeded to go in to the group’s name had been easily recognizable to any rightist ideologue. The regular membership floated for a couple weeks, as well as the sound was mainly folk and jug band-based, because they developed an target audience with shows at coffeehouses like the Jabberwock, and in addition later on played shows in the Avalon Ballroom and the initial Fillmore Auditorium. They developed in this era into a rock and roll group, playing electrical instruments and, moreover, real instruments. Another self-produced EP implemented in June of 1966 — by this time around, McDonald and Melton had been both playing electrical guitars, Bruce Barthol, a 16-year-old friend of Melton’s from senior high school, is at the lineup playing a power bass; New York-born, officially educated David Cohen acquired joined on guitar and keyboards; Paul Armstrong, an alumnus of the moment Action Jug Music group, was there performed electric guitar, bass, tambourine, and maracas; and jazzman John Francis Gunning acquired joined up with on drums. The record was sufficient to have the group gigs in SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA, on the Avalon Ballroom as well as the Fillmore Auditorium, and it had been analyzed in Billboard newspaper and even performed on the air as a long way away as NEW YORK — it appears to get circulated so far as London. Five weeks after its launch, the group authorized a agreement with Vanguard Information, a fresh York-based record label (headquartered on 23rd Road), which experienced previously been known mainly for its produces of pre-Baroque and Baroque-era traditional music and folk recordings. Operate by Maynard and Seymour Solomon, the business experienced stuck its throat out before by putting your signature on the reunited folk group the Weavers, who’d been blacklisted into early retirement, but Nation Joe & the Seafood presented brand-new problems — aside from being an electrical music group using a louder audio than anything they’d previously documented, that they had a repertoire of daring, complicated sounds that produced them a potential Western world Coast response to the Blues Task, perhaps even competitors to the Doorways, the electrical quartet just agreed upon by Vanguard’s indie label competition Elektra Records. However they also got this politics aspect, which Vanguard got experienced before with performers like the Weavers and Joan Baez (who was simply currently learning to be a lightning pole for the proper with her anti-Vietnam and pro-civil privileges actions). The difference was that Nation Joe & the Seafood weren’t remotely respectful within their politics songs; they combined rock and roll & roll’s vibrant, rebellious attitude with a knowledge level a minimum of exact carbon copy of a poli-sci M.A., as well as the blend was bracing but additionally a little terrifying within the framework of the days. Lyndon Johnson was still a favorite president generally in most of the united states beyond the Deep South, and in early 1967 the only real public statistics who’d paid any cost on the Vietnam Battle had been a small number of Democrats who’d been defeated for opposing it. Maynard Solomon noticed the results of the documenting sessions, kept at Sierra Audio in Berkeley beneath the path of Sam Charters, and he allow “Super Parrot” — a savage swipe at Lyndon Johnson — onto the group’s debut recording, but insisted that “PERSONALLY I THINK Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” become remaining off, despite its recognition in the group’s concert events. Electric powered Music for your brain and Body premiered in Feb of 1967, and it had been embraced being a function of genius by those that noticed it, a strong, powerful mixture of blues, jazz, traditional, folk, and rock and roll elements, all having a mesmerizing psychedelic shine; listening to it had been as near a psychedelic, hallucinogenic encounter as one could easily get through music in 1967, and when one relocated in closer around the songs as well as the playing, one surely got to luxuriate in Cohen’s prodigious body organ function, Melton’s, Cohen’s, and MacDonald’s alternately lyrical and slashing guitars, McDonald’s satisfying light folk tenor, as well as the liquid rhythm portion of Barthol and brand-new drummer Gary “Poultry” Hirsh. The thing it didn’t possess was popular single to find the music group some publicity on AM radio — “NOT Lovely Martha Lorraine” was released being a 45 but peaked at amount 98 nationally, though it got more than enough airplay on university stations in order that, in conjunction with the play received from the non-single songs “Section 43” and “Masked Marauder,” and superb person to person concerning the LP, Electric powered Music for your brain and Body were able to make the very best 40 and stay there. It still stands up right now, alongside Sgt. Pepper’s Depressed Hearts Membership Band, Truck Dyke Parks’ Melody Routine, the Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Cushion and After Bathing at Baxter’s (which owed too much to Electric powered Music), and Bloodstream, Perspiration & Tears’ Kid Is Dad to the person among the long lasting landmark albums of this calendar year. Vanguard, emboldened from the reaction to the very first recording (and relieved that “Super Parrot” hadn’t obtained it prohibited), experienced the group return back into the studio room in the summertime of 1967. This time around out, the label allow music group lead using its remaining, “PERSONALLY I THINK Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” leading off the brand new recording and providing as the name melody, when it had been released in Sept of 1967. The sky didn’t fall in and, certainly, the album marketed well for over per year, charting in the very best 40 and learning to be a staple of several collections — among the underappreciated reward features, which demonstrated just how much the label was getting back in on the heart from the fun, was the inclusion in the first pressings of “the Fish Video game,” an extremely satirical insert (which, within the 1980s and 1990s, would switch a five-dollar utilized copy from the LP right into a $40 item). If all of those other music wasn’t quite as achieved or bold because the content material of the sooner record, it was even more accessible, providing McDonald even more of an opportunity to showcase his singing tone of voice (which rivaled the Jefferson Airplane’s Marty Balin), and jointly both LPs symbolized the group’s creative and commercial top. The group was shortly touring nationally, and it had been one of the primary serves to be known because of its usage of a light display at its concerts. An appearance in the Monterey Pop Event in June of 1967 (and in the next film, performing “Section 43”) using the light display only improved the band’s status musically. And quickly, “PERSONALLY I THINK Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” got on the life of its. The music group got 1st documented it before these were on Vanguard, being a folk amount, as well as the version over the Vanguard record showed probably the most complex production however. In the summertime of 1968, the music group was showing up in NEW YORK on the Shaefer Summertime Music Celebration, sponsored with the beverage company, on the Wollman Skating Rink in Central Recreation area. By that point, the disposition of the united states got darkened significantly from 1967 — the Democrats had been divide between pro- and antiwar factions, as the Republicans had been taking advantage of the causes of response among white voters within the South, within the 1st national election because the passing of the landmark civil privileges and voting privileges legislation from the middle-’60s. And everybody appeared to either hate — or had been just plain dubious of — the motives of university students from the activist range, who were a huge chunk of Nation Joe & the Fish’s viewers. Amid a whole lot of head-shaking and hand-wringing, many over-forties, also people that have sons who could possibly be drafted, appeared to wish that most those “children” would simply act like ready cannon fodder and shut up. As well as the troop commitments remained within the six-figure range, while three- and four-star generals whose lives and professions had been inextricably linked with the military arranged goals and strategies that politicians endorsed and approved and continuing to bankroll within their finances. In an instant that may be submitted under “It APPEARED LIKE advisable at that time” (and it had been), at that one Shaefer concert, the group was thinking about doing “PERSONALLY I THINK Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” when drummer Poultry Hirsh suggested the starting, high school-style cheer (“Gimme an ‘F,’ gimme an ‘I'”) become transformed to something far more…expressive. The cheer became an expletive, the audience in those fairly innocent but darkening situations devoured it, and the brand new cheer trapped — the melody, as originally documented, got onto AM radio once more in its wake, and instantly 12- and 13-year-olds (such as this article writer at that time) from areas like Whitestone, Queens (Archie Bunker place in NEW YORK), 3,500 kilometers from Berkeley, who’d by no means actually heard about the locations in Manhattan where in fact the music group experienced played, understood who Nation Joe & the Seafood had been. The term spread as if by jungle telegraph, as well as the LP as well as the melody had been transferred around like some top secret code and satisfaction that just people under 26 (the top limit of draft age group) could understand and appreciate, openly on college buses and in magic formula on private-school campuses (just like the one this article writer went to) behind the backs from the administration. To comprehend what a deep, furious brand of dark laughter McDonald and business got tapped into, one needed to be there — in the event that you noticed mature classmates registering for the draft, or old brothers or cousins or close friends, or your neighbours’ sons, or your school-bus drivers (or his kid), or whoever obtain called up, you had been keenly alert to the battle. And if you had been male and 14 or 15 or old, you also understood that you would be registering quickly enough, so when the battle got currently lasted 3 years and there is no progress, it had been hard to understand why it wouldn’t be happening three years therefore from 1968 — and it had been. Lyndon Johnson, who’d appeared too well-known for “reputable” visitors to attack on the battle in past due 1966, got announced 1 . 5 years afterwards that he was departing workplace, in near-disgrace politically; but way too many voters happy to find out him move still sensed the battle was well worth fighting (by someone else — man residents 18 through twenty years outdated, though completely draftable, still couldn’t vote) if maybe it’s won (once again, with somebody else’s blood). Sooner or later, “PERSONALLY I THINK Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” became a prism by which you can analyze the changing times as well as the feeling of the united states and its viewers, incidentally it was shown. Something similar got occurred with another body from the American still left, Paul Robeson, and his shows from the Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II track “Ol’ Guy River” from Showboat. Although he wasn’t the very first man to try out the part of Joe (the type who sang the track) within the musical, the track became inextricably connected with him, on-stage and down the road record. As originally created and performed, the tune acquired the opening series “Niggers all focus on the Mississippi,” commensurate with the vernacular a dark laborer within a boundary state within the post-Civil Battle period might well used; across the years, however, Robeson modified the words for the reason that line, along with other components of the track, going for a peculiar ownership of it and turning it, in his hands, right into a reflection of this amount of time in which he performed it — therefore soon it had been “Darkies all focus on the Mississippi” for the film, and afterwards still it had been “colored people,” and by the 1950s he’d changed the words more than enough to carefully turn it into an anthem of liberation. Likewise, McDonald and business, within the adjustments in words, placing, and tone of the antiwar music, mirrored the changing times and sensibilities of the audience, along with a modification of intent from the performers. By enough time of Woodstock, with McDonald showing up solo, the companies acquired no qualms about documenting the uncensored edition of “the Seafood Cheer,” significantly less McDonald (there by himself, awaiting the entrance from the music group) performing it before thousands of individuals. By that point, however, the very best times of the music group had been over. In nov 1967, someone were able to convince McDonald that he was the true “celebrity” of the group. Amid the ensuing turmoil, the Seafood split. It didn’t last lengthy, and they had been eventually reassembled right into a entire music group, however the hiatus price them dearly — their third recording, Together, was something from the interruption, with MacDonald nearly invisible of all from the recording and Melton and Hirsh the prominent personalities and performers. They still were able to tour European countries and noticed more demand for his or her performances over the United States aswell, as well as the continuing controversy over and worsening prosecution from the Vietnam Battle helped maintain their reputation high, as well as the developing underground passion for “PERSONALLY I THINK Like I’m Fixin’ to Die Rag” suffered them. Alas, the lineup started arriving apart at that time — Bruce Barthol was dismissed in middle-1968, and Poultry Hirsh was eliminated by the finish of the entire year. The next recording, Here WE HAVE BEEN Once again, released in the springtime of 1969, was the debut of the brand new lineup of the group which, in addition to the Airplane’s Jack port Casady seated in on bass, got David Getz, past due of YOUR GOVERNMENT & the Keeping Business, on drums. David Cohen’s leave resulted in an all-star jam (including Jerry Garcia and Steve Miller) acknowledged to the music group in the Fillmore Western, which was documented and consequently released like a Nation Joe & the Seafood live record. The lineup stabilized around McDonald, Melton, Getz, and Peter S. Albin of YOUR GOVERNMENT for half a year in 1969. MacDonald reassembled the music group because of its appearance at Woodstock, and the ultimate lineup of Melton, Tag Kapner on keyboards, Doug Metzner on bass, and Greg Dewey on drums was one that got benefit of the momentum arriving from that performance. Within the spring following a event, McDonald embarked on a single career, time for his origins with an record of Woody Guthrie music, and implemented it up a calendar year afterwards with the electrical blues record HANG ON It’s Arriving. He remained focused on getting the Vietnam Battle to a finish, participating in presentations and showing up on-stage using the F.T.A. (F*ck the Military) Display, a satirical anti-military revue, which yielded a film of the same name and finally earned a location on Chief executive Richard M. Nixon’s notorious “opponents list.” Melton continuing in music in to the 1970s, but later on became a member of the legal job. Over the years since, McDonald provides cut numerous single albums and performed thoroughly, in addition to revived Rag Baby. He provides regularly reunited with Melton — whose existence is vital for the state usage of the “Nation Joe & the Seafood” name — and Cohen, Barthol, and Hirsh, lately within the wake from the battle in Iraq. He’s become nearly a mythic shape in agitprop music because the early ’80s, when he resumed his peace-activist function — like some Tom Joad-like personality, wherever the American authorities appears hell-bent on turning soldiers loose to destroy people, he’s there along with his music, aiming to answer the decision to hands with another thing. There are a minimum of two extant best-of compilations specialized in the music group, and in 1994 the Rag Baby EPs had been reissued on compact disk.