Saturday, March 19, 2011

Country Joe and The Fish - Happiness Is A Porpoise Mouth


The white ducks fly on past the sun,
Their wings flash silver at the moon.
While waters rush down the mountain tongue
My organs play a circus tune.
I dance to the wonder of your feet
And sing to the joy of your knees.
The cold white dress on the mountain breast
Paints the frozen trees.
The maple plants patterns in the sky
Its leaves to kiss the wind
While scores of glittering bugs and flies
Dance polkas on her limbs.
I whistle symphonies of your face
And laugh for your hair so fine.
In startled greens of playground grass
A child jumps rope to rhyme.

Reeds and brass, the marching drums
Make a joyous sound
Trees bend low with nuts and plums
Then fall to find the ground.
I hunger for your porpoise mouth
And stand erect for love.
The sun burns up the winter sky
And all the earth is love.

About The Band:

The group's name is derived from leftist politics; "Country Joe" was a popular name for Joseph Stalin in the 1940s, while "the fish" refers to Mao Tse Dung's statement that the true revolutionary must "swim among the people as a fish." The group began with the nucleus of "Country Joe" McDonald (lead vocals) and Barry "The Fish" Melton (lead guitar), recording and performing for the "Teach-In" protests against the Vietnam War in 1965. Co-founders McDonald and Melton added musicians as needed over the life of the band. By 1967, the group included Gary "Chicken" Hirsh (drums) (born in 1940, in Chicago, Illinois); David Cohen (keyboards) (born 8 April 1942, in Brooklyn, New York) and Bruce Barthol (bass) (born 11 November 1947 in Berkeley, California). The 1967 lineup lasted only two years, and by the 1969 music festival Woodstock, the lineup included Greg 'Duke' Dewey (drums), Mark Kapner (keyboards) and Doug Metzler (bass).

The band came to perform an early example of psychedelic music. The LP "Electric Music for the Mind and Body" was very influential on early FM Radio in 1967. Long sets of psychedelic tunes like "Section 43", "Bass Strings", "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine", "Janis" (for and about Janis Joplin) and "Grace" (for singer Grace Slick) (all released on Vanguard Records) were often played back to back on KSAN and KMPX in San Francisco and progressive rock stations around the country. Their first album charted at #39 on September 23, 1967, their 2nd album at #67 on February 3, 1968, and their third at #23 on August 31, 1968. Country Joe and The Fish were regulars at Fillmore West and East and Chet Helms' Avalon Ballroom. They were billed with such groups as Jefferson Airplane, Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Led Zeppelin, and Iron Butterfly. They played at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and at the Woodstock Festival in 1969. In 1971 the band appeared in a Western film starring Don Johnson as an outlaw gang called the Crackers. The film, entitled Zachariah, was written by the Firesign Theatre and was billed as "The First Electric Western". They also appeared in the George Lucas film More American Graffiti and in the 1971 Roger Corman film Gas-s-s-s.

Electric Music For The Mind And Body, Country Joe and The Fish's debut album, was one of the first psychedelic albums to come out of San Francisco in 1967. Many timed their acid trips to peak during Country Joe and The Fish performances at The Avalon or The Fillmore, where they were frequent performers.

Tracks from the LP, especially "Section 43", "Grace", and "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" were played on progressive FM rock stations like KSAN and KMPX in San Francisco, often back-to-back. A famous version of the song "Love" was performed at the 1969 Woodstock Festival

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