Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wrote A Song For Everyone

Wrote a song for everyone,
Wrote a song for truth.
Wrote a song for everyone
And I couldn't even talk to you.

For 2 1/2 years beginning in January 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival, ignited by the songwriting, guitar playing and singing of John Fogerty (who had a voice that could peel paint), ruled the AM radio airways.  CCR had a run of nine straight Top Ten singles:

CCR never had a #1 but four of its singles reached #2 - Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Green River (THC's favorite) and the double-sided hit Traveling Band/Who'll Stop The Rain (Billboard changed its system in 1970 to count sales of both sides of a single together in putting together its charts)

A fifth single hit #3 - Down On The Corner; it's flip side Fortunate Son hit #14.  This was in 1969 before Billboard changed its rules and it might have made #1 under the new rules.

Up Around The Bend/Run Through The Jungle hit #4, Sweet Hitch-Hiker #6 and Have You Ever Seen The Rain?/Hey Tonight was #8.  

They also released five albums in 23 months all of which reached the Top Ten.
(Green River album cover)
But today we'll focus on the lesser known songs of CCR, so we'll also skip over heavy FM playlist songs like Born On A Bayou, Keep On Chooglin' and Susie Q.

When THC first heard CCR he thought they had crawled out of the swamps of Louisiana but it turns out they're from suburban California and had scuffled for years (mostly playing as The Golliwogs) before achieving "overnight" success.  Which brings us to our first song for today, Lodi.

If I only had a dollar, for ev'ry song I've sung.
And ev'ry time I've had to play
While people sat there drunk.
You know, I'd catch the next train back to where I live.
Oh ! Lord, I'm stuck in Lodi again.

CCR never played in Lodi, a town in California's Central Valley, but Fogerty liked the way the name sounded and it stood in for the endless procession of bars and clubs he'd played in over the years as a struggling musician.  The lyrics catch the pathos of the singer wondering if he's doomed to play this circuit forever.

Next up is Bootleg which THC has featured before and should be taught in college as part of any Political Science curriculum for its astute analysis of public policy:

Take you a glass of water
Make it against the law.
See how good the water tastes
When you can't have any at all.

Our next tune is Penthouse Pauper featuring paint peeling guitar lines in addition to the paint peeling vocal.  Listen to how Fogerty makes his guitar sound like a hacksaw when he signs "If I was a hacksaw, my blade'd be razor sharp".

We'll wrap this up with Wrote A Song For Everyone, the lyric featured at the top of this post.  Written after a tiff with his wife over needing to spend more time with his young son, Fogerty wrote this about the clash between family and his profession.  The reference in the lyric to "Richmond" is to Richmond, California a Bay Area town near his home.
If you'd like to hear how Fogerty sounds more recently on a non-Fogerty composed song this is Screamin' Jay Hawkins' I Put A Spell On You from a live show in the late 1990s.  The drummer is Kenny Aronoff who hits the skins harder than anyone who isn't named John Bonham.

1 comment:

  1. I have LOVED CCR from the first time I heard them. Lodi's my fave. And your Bonham comment? Spot on my friend.