Monday, 28 September 2009

The Greatness of Here I Go Again

A while back I spoke about the wonderful Kiss and Make Up, the Field Mice song covered by Saint Etienne.
This week I want to talk about the gloriously beautiful song that is Here I Go Again by Country Joe and The Fish.
Originally released on the album, Here We Are Again, this song was first played to me as a pimply youth by John Peel, he muttered some comments as to wondering what Barry Melton (The Fish) and played what would become and still is one of my very favourite songs.
I was aware of country Joe and The Fish only as a brief clip on a festival film with them performing Fixin To die Rag, a song I am sure a lot of people know, 1,2,3 what are we fighting for etc. Then of course there is the fish cheer, there anthem as it is.
These song though they passed me by, as really has Joe McDonald and Barry Meltons other work. I would not really know anything by either of them other than the utterly beautiful Here I Go Again.
As a song it is nothing with the vocal delivery and the guitar, the guitar is so utterly important to this song, without it, well it would just be a good song, with it, it is one of the best ever written.
Its subject matter lies squarely at the telling of the 60’s dream, the 60’s dream espoused by the likes of Hendrix, Cass, Philips and of course McDonald.
Its not a tale of 60’s tripping out though, it’s a story of loss, lost love, losing to the war, and effectively being alone. If the lyrics don’t convey it, that’s where Barry Meltons guitar will do it quite nicely for you.

Joe McDonald, Country Joe was kind enough to answer a few questions about the song.

PD: Here I go again, a beautiful song that seems strangely ignored in the mainstream in favour of Fixing To Die Rag/Fish Cheer, does that frustrate you at all?

CJM: In general most of my other songs are not noticed. But it is great to be recognized for any song in the music business and Fixing To Die is a good song.

PD: I first heard the song on a radio show by the British DJ John Peel’s show in 1988 when I was 17, Here I Go Again was released before I was born, but it still had a huge impact on me, do you see the music of Country Joe and The Fish music as being timeless and with a longevity?

CJM: No. With the exception of Sweet Lorraine, the music has pretty much disappeared, but the song Here I Go Again caught on in England and the Singer/Model Twiggy had a nice hit single of it, as well as the Irish singer Val Doonican recorded it. Lots of people in the United Kingdom know the song who do not know me.

PD: I personally feel that the melding of your voice and lyrics on here I go again, coupled with Barry Meltons guitar can not be bettered as a combination, did you and Barry work instinctively or were you very specific about the sound that you wanted on that track?

CJM: Mostly I just let Barry perform what he wanted and he did a very nice job of playing on that song.

PD: Do you think that lyrically the song captured a specific time well?

CJM: I don’t know about that.

PD: Do you recall much about the recording process? Was it a case of “another album track” or did you feel it was a pretty special song?

CJM: I knew it was a nice song, a bit strange as it’s verses don’t naturally follow one another, but it is a plaintive sort of waltz blues that creates a nice atmosphere.

PD: Do you still perform the track live and if so what is the audience reaction?

CJM: I still do the song and people still like it.

PD: Do you have any plans to perform in Europe soon?

CJM: I got very tired of the Transatlantic journey, but I do miss the United Kingdom.

Country Joe does still perform and more details can be found over at his website,

Here I Go Again by Country Joe and The Fish

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