Left a good job in the city,
Workin’ for The Man every night and day,
And I never lost one minute of sleepin’,
Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been.
Big wheel keep on turnin’,
Proud Mary keep on burnin’,
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.
“Proud Mary” is usually associated with Tina Turner, but it is one of the greatest songs performed by our Legend of the Month, Creedence Clearwater Revival. CCR is often associated with Southern Rock, yet ironically, the band formed in Northern California, near San Francisco. The band members met in junior high and formed one of the most successful bands of all-time.
Lead singer and songwriter John Fogerty has one of the most unique voices in Rock & Roll. When you hear his voice, you instantly know who is singing. While the band’s run was relatively short, they left a plethora (I learned that word from “El Guapo” in the movie The Three Amigos) of great songs.
In 1966, right before their rise to fame, Fogerty and drummer Doug Cliffard, were drafted into the military to serve in the Vietnam War. During this time in America, many anti-war protests broke out. In San Francisco, approximately 30,000 people staged the infamous “Human Be-In” protest. These events helped to shape the band significantly. After John & Doug’s service time, the band began to record their first full-length album, and changed their name from The Golliwogs to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
In 1968, CCR released their first album, Creedence Clearwater Revival. The album featured eight tracks, containing three covers and five original tracks. Six months later in January of 1969, the band released their sophomore album, Bayou Country. This was their first album to go Platinum, and it contained one of the greatest songs ever recorded, “Proud Mary.” Proud Mary was ranked #155 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time.
In August of 1969, only eight months later, they released their third album, “Green River.” The album is ranked #95 in Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time. The album also featured the songs: “Bad,” “Moon Rising,” “Green River,” and “Lodi.” Three months later, in November of 1969, the band released their fourth album, Willy and the Poor Boys, making it their third album released in 1969! Willy and the Poor Boys ranked #392 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time.
The album also featured the band’s signature track, “Fortunate Son.” The song ranked #99 on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time. This song was released at a time in the U.S. where protests were happening everyday. While this song was an anti-protest song, it really speaks about the men, who were low class, serving in the war and the upper class men, who were “saved” due to their status. In interviews Fogerty said he wrote the song based on David Eisenhower (Grandson of Dwight Eisenhower) who married Julie Nixon, daughter of the President. David was drafted, but was placed in the reserves. Fogerty writes: It ain’t me, it ain’t me/I ain’t no senator’s son/It ain’t me, it ain’t me/I ain’t no fortunate one.
The band began to have some turmoil over the direction of their songs and albums. CCR released three more albums and called it quits in 1972. The break-up was very public and ugly. Because of this, Fogerty refused to play any CCR songs in concert. Fans would become hostile at concerts, because they wanted to hear CCR songs, but Fogerty refused. That is, until he spoke with Bob Dylan and George Harrison in the late 80’s. They told Fogerty that if he didn’t play his older work, people would think that Tina Turner’s version of Proud Mary was the original version. Since then, Fogerty has played CCR songs at his concert.
Creedence Clearwater Revival can be heard on the radio, in movies and in TV commercials. Their music is engrained in our pop culture. Although they only recorded from 1968-1972, they released seven albums and 1 live album. They had an amazing, yet short-lived run. They were the voices of a generation who didn’t have a voice about the war. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993.
Top 5 Songs
2. Proud Mary