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14 June 2007

Wedding Service For Country Joe

What follows is a transcript of the wedding service of 'Country' Joe McDonald (of Country Joe and the Fish fame) and Robin Menken. Dating from the late 1960s, the text is a mix of hippie irony, idealism and iconoclasm that gives us an insight into the all pervasive nature of politics at the time.

Dear friends, the pastor would say,
You are gathered together to witness,
He would continue, a ceremony of holy matrimony.
What a beautiful dress
Doesn't he look nice
Is she crying
It's just because she's happy
And what has this got do with Vietnam
and what city is it this time?
Khe San, Memphis, Hue, Panama
No, it is San Francisco
The Mission
A slum
And what are Protestants doing in this neighborhood?
No matter
The Lord spoke unto Abraham and said
ye shall have faith in my wisdom and ye shall
do my bidding, ye shall convert the Indians and Niggers and Spics
He always uses ye not you; he's not talking to us
Ye shall return to the spirit of the Sierra Maestra
and ye shall be ascetics and make the world cry
with electric music and sad and funny theatre
for ye are the blessed children and carry the seed
of the new, always new, hope and faith that this
world shall be and it shall be and it shall be
Boroch ataw adenoih elehanu meloch olum
Yatta, yatta, yatta rabbi
Cut all that shit and tell us why we are here
You're here because you're invited except for the crashers
and you have to sit through this part because if you
want to eat the food and drink the booze you have
to sit through this part. That's the way it's always been.
There is a specter haunting the world
And it's not Phil
and hammers and sickles castrated our parents, the good ones anyway
Eisenhower and Krushscev buried together
in Disneyland or Outer Space
and we have come back to the heritage of Moses
stuttering, stammering poor kike, diddled by
Egyptian chicks, and fed with the affluence
of slavery and one day like the good hippie
he was he said Feh, which was the old way to say Fuck it
and he said to his people let's split and sure enough
on the way to the rural commune some Ingmar Bergman character
jumps out of a burning shrub of marijuana and says
I'm God buddy and you listen to me
And the sons of Moses listened and the prayed and
by the large they were peaceful but their music
got behind and they got righteous and full of pity for the Dead and
they kill
Arabs and burn villages just like Americans,
just like Germans, just like Christians and Muslims
But enough of foreign religion
Mah Fellah Americans, says the Great Potato, we are
gathered here today for the purpose of national unity
The bride and groom grow edgy,
the audience murmurs,
What the fuck is he doing here
He's everywhere
and we shall overcome for there's an old American saying
oh no
When the going gets tough, the tough get going,
Get him out of here, this is a church
And just as our ancestors persevered in the past against
our deadly enemies, the Injuns, the Mescans and the Nigrahs
so too will we persevere against the communists, the hippies
the kikes and all the other great unbelievers who menace our
precious civilization
And in our ears the Great Society responds with applause
led by George Meany
but George is alone
the applause is canned
the TV camera supers behind the face of the Great Potato
and it reveals
an electric razor and an oil well
and a painter taking a photograph and pasting it on his canvas
And there is a thin blue line of cops between the barbarians & Harlem
There is a specter haunting us today
And we don't know what it is
My children join hands
At last say the parents
By virtue of the power invested in me
Who the hell would invest in him
and by the laws of Moses and of Jesus and of The Buddha
of the holy ghost and the millions of other ghosts who don't give a damn
In Hanoi it is one day later, in Cuba it is 6 o'clock
and the workers come back from the cane field
We don't know it but they are looking at our ceremony
They are saying
Stay as you are Country Joe
Stay as you are Robin
Do not fall prey to the temptations of the Great Potato
Stay with Moses, stay with Fidel, stay with Che
And the ghost of Che lurks in the church and his
death wail booms from the mighty Fenders
Don't forget me
And the ghost of Malcolm stands guard against the blue eyed devils
and the burning monk takes the uncollected garbage with him
in a purification of the holy
And it is we who are holy
By the laws of all who were holy and who have invested this power
in us to join and to cry and to make each hatred a deepening of love
Under the Laws of Moses, Jesus, Mohamed and Ho Chi Minh
Under the Laws of Ginsberg, O'Casey and Mayakovsky
How about the laws of California
How about the lynch law
How about the Geneva convention
How about Pacem en Terris
How about kissing my ass, says the Great Potato
Again he sneaks in
and his friends hover over him, shaking giant Bar B cued ribs,
clutching their genitals in their pistol pockets
Begone says Moses
Beat it says Jesus
Que se vayan, says Fidel
And the ghost of the Che and Malcolm and the burning monk
surround them, and give them a powerful revolutionary hex
and for a brief instant there was light and the specter
hovered in the sky and became a rainbow
and the guns were turned into plowshares in Israel
and into electric guitars in the Great Society
And they joined together in bodies and with the sound
in their heads, like millions of fish in the great ocean
and the audience pushed onto the stage and the stage became
the tabernacle and the power was invested in all of them
and it was all of them who shouted
Country Joe, Robin, and all the friends in Vietnam and Cuba and
Texas and the Mafia
Lay down, and they all lay down, and the couple stood alone, still
alone, but the friends were near, each time nearer
They carried their burden, alone, together, and they took each others'
hands, just as they would do in the unholy temples
And the Most Reverend Bishop Mackerel said "May the Lord bless you
by giving you children" and the audience didn't laugh
For the time had come when the laughter became serious, the moment,
the instant at which the laws of God, of the Great Potato and the
State of California were to come together for the most sacred of rituals
which would be reported in tomorrow's paper and would include
details about where the bride bought her dress
That Moment has come
That Moment has gone
Relax, said the minister,
because we are where it is at.
And Country Joe and Robin's hands began to sweat as any hands
held together would sweat
and the Minister now told Country Joe that if he wanted
he could kiss the bride
and the audience peeked to see if they blushed
and some thought they did and some said they didn't
And the Great Potato was frying in lard
And Malcolm said these were good blue eyed devils
and he would protect them when the time came
and ghost of the Great Che shouted that They Would Triumph
And the ceremony came to an end
as the Minister pronounced the lovely couple
He said I hereby pronounce you and he pronounced them Country Joe
and Robin
and ye shall remain Country Joe and Robin
and today we feel your love and you must feel ours
For you are know locked together in holiness, give or take the matrimony
for as long as you want to be
and May you groove with the great guru
and may your children be Great Fish, and birds, and beautiful
Country Folk
And now the Great Ring bearer comes forth
bearing the Ring of the Niebelomin, and
the Carousel ring - and the ring of truth
and the ring of love
And the best man and the bride's father
fumbled and hands touched and another part of
the ancient ritual is completed
All that remains is the blood of Christ,
dry for a thousand nine hundred odd years.
And bottled by Mogen David. Drink he said
and together they drank. And none else shall
drink from that glass.
(They stomp on the glass).
Robin do you yattayatta take Joe, more or
less the way he is, for more or less forever.
And do you Country Joe yatta blah yatta
take Robin the way she is.
Yeah, said the groom.
Go in peace.

Source: P. Stansill and D. Z. Mairowitz (eds.), BAMN: Outlaw Manifestos and Ephemera 1967-70 (Harmondsworth, 1971)