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Going Up the Country

by

Canned Heat



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Canned Heat's band members were notoriously avid record collectors; this was derived from an old and obscure Blues song called "Bull Doze Blues" by Henry Thomas. The song caught on in the summer of 1969 and was very popular among Hippies who appreciated the nature theme.
This was written by Alan Wilson, who was Canned Heat's vocalist, guitarist and primary songwriter. Wilson committed suicide on September 3, 1970, becoming one of the first 27-year-old Rock casualties, a group that would soon include Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison.
Canned Heat played this at day 2 of the Woodstock Festival, which was a big moment for the band. The song was kind of an anthem for the festival, as "Going Up the Country" described the pilgrimage to Yasgur's farm in upstate New York where the event took place. The band didn't put much effort into practicing for their appearance, and their 10 song set was uneven - their co-founder Bob Hite said in a 1974 Sounds interview, "We've always just fallen into something within a couple of days and then just gone out on the road and played. Sometimes it's shown it and sometimes it's been incredible. The Woodstock performance which although there were a couple of tunes which weren't too good, ‘Going Up The Country’ was one of them."

The song was included on the Woodstock album, but Canned Heat's set was edited out of the official movie. It can be seen on the director's cut of the film.
Bob Hite sang lead on most Canned Heat songs, but this one was sung by Alan Wilson in his distinctive tenor.
The prominent flute in this song was played by Jim Horn, who made his biggest impact as a saxophone player, appearing on tracks by The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and The Beach Boys.
Canned Heat
More Canned Heat songs
More songs that were adapted from early Blues songs
More songs about traveling
More songs that describe a journey
More songs performed at Woodstock
More songs about nature
More songs about getting away
More songs that were Hippie anthems
More songs featuring flutes

Comments (39):

If you want to know about Canned Heat buy the book Livin the Blues by Fito Dela Parra. And if you want to know about Alan Blind Owl Wilson buy the book Blind Owl Blues by Rebecca Davis. Jas, I wonder if it is your mom that is mentioned in that one.
- gerry, london, United Kingdom
One of Canned Heat's biggest hit but a shameless rip off of the song Bulldoze Blues by old bluesman Henry Thomas.
- Phil, Montreal, QC
The "singer" should have been arrested for impersonating one.
- esskayess, Dallas, TX
I think you got it wrong about Bob Hite Jas.If you watch the videos on you tube of he band performing at Woodstock you will see that Bob Hite is a big man,"The Bear".Interesting that you say your mum was Alan Wilson's on off girlfriend because by all accounts he had difficulties maintaining relationships with women.The guy was a genius and had problems relating to the women who hung around the band.Alan Wilson did not commit suicide. His death certificate states accidental death by overdose of barbiturates and he also had a minor head injury from an accident he had in his van and this injury may have enhanced the effects of the barbiturates that he took to treat his insomnia.He had been suffering from depression and wanted to leave the band as the touring and the party lifestyle had got him down Alan use to go off in to the country on his own while the rest of the band partied..Alan was very creative and wanted to continue exploring and developing his music and I think that he may have felt trapped in the band.
- joyce, newcastle un tyne, United Kingdom
It was used at the end of Sandra Bullock's Oscar-winning role film, "The Blind Side".
- Steve, Whittier, CA
I know nothing about Canned Heat other than I was a big fan in the 60's and bought several of their albumns. I saw them at the Kinetic Playgound in Chicago. However it seems clear to be that the lyrics are about the whole back to nature movement that began its popularity in that era. The counterculture idealized "country living" away from the materialistic city people and all their restictive rule and regulations. You could go to the country where the "water tastes like wine".
- Henry, Chicago, IL
How could you refer to Bob as "the fat guy?" My mom dated Alan Wilson in the 60s off an on, and all the 8mm I have ever seen taken then show pretty much all of them as normal sized guys. According to my mom, they were nice, typical late 60's guy who did was pretty much everybody did then. Only later on, they did it a little too much. If you really listen to Canned Heat and talk to the people that actually knew them, you'll come to realize that they were really way ahead of their time, and they suffered for it. You have whack job rappers copying their style of bringing in the harmonies at unusual times nowadays, yet you call them original. I asked my mother directly if this was about Vietnam, and her exact words were "Well they wouldn't do that. They weren't a bunch of anti-war guys, they were nice guys that were really against stupidity." I read what was said here, then I went looking for the truth. Saying that Al killed himself over redwoods isn't really that true, the guy had some demons, hence why he isn't my dad.
So it's not about the Mekong Delta, there was no "fat guy," Al didn't die solely over trees. As for Val in Topanga, I think we should talk so I can get you in touch with my mom, though I might know who you are already from hearing stories.
- Jas, Clifton, TX
OK, referring to Bob as "the fat guy" is so not cool. Did it ever occur to you that some of his family might happen upon this site?

Let me dispel some myths here:

1. Canned Heat did not appear on the movie because they were NOT a Warner Brothers act.

2. Going Up The Country is NOT about going up the "Mekong Delta"

3. Alan Wilson was found dead in the sleeping bag behind our house in September 1970.

4. Bob Hite died April 5th, 1981 in North Hollywood at a gig (Palamino Club) and his only son died April 2nd, 2000...both from accidental overdose.
- Val, Topanga, CA
Hmmm they say it was based on bull doze blues which I'm not saying it isn't.but if you listen to big leg blues by Mississippi John hurt it sounds really similar have a look hear for your self
- Lyle, farmington,
this song reminds of growing up in the 60's and my beloved hippie chick sister RIP w/lol
who turmed me on to all kinds of great music

Tis-is- I
Los Agelea County California
- Denise, lapuente, CA
Going up the country meant going up the Mekong Delta.
- Joel, Halifax, NS
I don't know alot about Canned Heat, but I know that the fat guy DID NOT sing this. Check youtube for videos of this at woodstock, the fat guy isnt singing
- Sam, Seattle, WA
I heard the guy who sings this was reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally fat...yes?
- nady, adelaide, Australia
Gotta chime in and say, as a 53 year old classic rock dj and long-time fan, it's great to read the comments from our younger folks here who appreciate this great genre of music. I have a 20-year old daughter that appreciates this music, too. Tune in on Saturday afternoon to the Underground Railroad, with Stu Robins, on www.hgrnj.org , between 2 and 6 pm for the best in deep classic rock, commercial free.
- Stu, New York, NY
This song is featured on the compact disc "Vietnam:A House Divided".
- Joel, Columbia, SC
Hey now, don't make stereotypical comments about age. I'm fourteen, and I happen to have a more extensive preferance in music than most adults.
- Daniel, Marion, NC
Hey man, I'm 16 and I love this song.
- Magnus, Oslo, Norway
The flute used on this song by Jim Horn is in the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville,Tennessee.This song became the theme song for Woodstock.A version of Canned Heat still exists and tours today.
- Mark, byrdstown, TN
I am only 33! This song is way older than my generation and it is one of my favorites.

I agree, Amanda. Do dare to think that young people don't know good music.
- Hype, Austin, TX
I was appalled to read the comment regarding "the youth" of today. I am 21 years old with an extensive taste in music... obviously including this song or I wouldn't have come to this page. However, "some crappy artist" that this guy can't recall who sings a song called "Canned Heat" happens to be a spectacular British dance artist with jazz and funk influences named Jamiroquai. The song was featured in 2 recent movies, "Center Stage" and "Napolean Dynamite"(Bad movie). Don't rule out ALL of us youngens, some have good taste, some don't. The same goes for your generation.
- Amanda, Arroyo Grande, CA
This song is the only Canned Heat song on the Woodstock record and movie.
Pete in Australia, you hit the nail right on the head. You're not alone. The singer sounds a lot like Kermit the Frog.
- David, Youngstown, OH
this sounds a lot like matchbox by the beatles.
- Danny, Voorhees, NJ
Th Flautist (guy that plays the flute) is Jim Horn. He is a very versatile brass/woodwind player (with a name like that go figure). He plays on a lot of classic songs. Check out Johnny Rivers ? "Poor Side of Town"(sax); The Beach Boys "Good Vibrations"(sax); Smokey Robinson ? "Tears of a Clown" (piccolo); U2 ? "Angel of Harlem" (baritone); Seals & Crofts ? "Summer Breeze"; Frank Sinatra ? "Strangers in the Night" (flute) . He has quite a few CDs available. "The Hit List" has most of his major collaborations. Additionally he does a lot of tribute CDs
- erich, Parma, OH
hey sara of FL: i win! i'm 16 and one of the HUGEST big brother & the holding company, CSN&Y, canned heat, and sweetwater fans EVER. ;)
- Clare, Dallas, TX
excuse me!! 18 and the classic rock junkie at your service! =^_^=
- Sara MacKenzie, Middle of Nowhere, FL
I love this song and it really is sad that no one has a good taste in music anymore. I want to know who plays teh flute in the begining of this song help me out if you can.
- Brandon, E. Providence, RI
Hey Ian, you can't blame my generation for their bad taste in music. I am 16 and I love going up country by canned heat. they were awesome at woodstock and I think the song is great. But what you have to realize is that even though the majority of teens now listen to today's rap and hip hop, the poorness of the music is driving people from my generation into the past. If you went to my high school on any given day you would see at least 2 Led Zeppelin shirts and at leasdt 2 Pink Floyd shirts, and there are usually some beatles or rolling stones shirts.

So yes our generaions music is terrible-but don't lose faith in the average teen-although theiy may listen to this crap for a while I believe they will eventually come around and tune into hotel california, stairway to heaven, or going up country (where the water tastes like wine :-D)
- Alan, London, England
It saddens me that the youth of today know nothing of our musical past. I have an awesome Canned Heat shirt I picked up at Mervyns (they have a lot of band shirts!) and i was wearing it one day and two girls approached me about the ages of 17. They say, "Oh! Canned Heat!" This surprised me in a good way and I said, "You actually know this band?!" One girl said, "Oh, no... there's a song by (some crappy artist that I can't recall) called Canned Heat." How sad...

I love their performance at Woodstock! Is there any more of their concerts on DVD at all?
- Ian, North Hollywood, CA
lead singer sounds a bit like Kermit the frog, or is it the other way around....
(insert Twilight Zone music here)
- pete, nowra, Australia
Singer Bob "the Bear" Hite in Canned Heat is the Bear that is the inspiration for the song "the Bear" by John Mayall on the "Blues from Laurel Canyon" album, with Larry Taylor of Canned Heat on bass.
- Kjetil, Mandal, Norway
Canned Heat was founded by Bob Hite, Alan Wilson and Henry Vestine. Alan committed suicide because he thought his life was over after the sixties ended. He tended to be pessimistic.
- robert, Santa Barbara, CA
The song was also used in the "Northern Exposure" episode when Dr. Cappra was travelling to replace Dr. Joel Flieschman as the town doctor.
- Tom, San Diego, CA
This song was played at woodstock 1969 by Canned Heat.
- The Woz, Philly, PA
AH the song's real title is Going Up The Country.

Cheers,

Gary
- Gary, Seattle, WA
Oops--a correction to my previous post: The blues singer's complete name is Henry "Ragtime Texas" Thomas.
It is correct that Al Wilson committed suicide, but not exactly because of the redwoods' destruction. He was a troubled person, though a remarkable blues composer & player who contributed distinctively to the band. His fragile nature is described frankly but with tenderness by Canned Heat's drummer Fito de la Para in his recent book about the band.
- Joe, Kent, OH
The song this was based on, Bull Doze Blues, was recorded in the late 1920s by Henry "Ragtime" Texas. He was an older singer who sang in the older blues and "pre-blues" styles of African-American music. He played guitar and "quills" (panpipes). In the Canned heat song, the melody played by the flute is taken directly from that played by Thomas on the quills.
- Joe, Kent, OH
I had heard that "Blind Al Wilson" had committed suicide.somewhere
- Stefanie magura, Rock Hill, SC
This was sung by Al 'Blind Owl' Wilson, who later committed suicide when it turned out that hecouldn't save a certain bit of redwood forest in California from logging by a timber company. Wilson started Canned Heat with singer Bob 'The Bear' Hite, who died himself a couple of years later.
- Martijn, Helmond, Netherlands
This was used in the 2004 movie, 'Meet the Fockers'
- Jack Lee, Nottingham, England
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