They’re a small band from El Cerrito, California but they sound like they were born on the Bayou. They play a type of music that would come to form the basis of Rock Americana, covering Lead Belly and singing songs about Riverboats. They are CCR, Creedence, or if you’re not into that whole brevity thing, Creedence Clearwater Revival.
In the span of four years, Creedence released an incredible seven albums starting with their self-titled debut in 1968. The big songs on this album—“I Put a Spell on You” and “Suzie Q”— would define their sound in terms of the Delta rather than their Northwest roots. It was the great trick of lead singer/songwriter John Fogerty whose epic wail could transform a simple song into an unbelievable ballad, R&B croon, or rip roarin’ anthem.
“Proud Mary” off of 1969s Bayou Country was all three. The song would become an icon —like his exultant “Toinin’”—, and covers of the song would come by the end of the year, none more popular than the Ike & Tina version.
Green River and Willy and the Poor Boys came out in August and November of the same year giving us “Bad Moon Rising,” “Lodi,” “Wrote a Song For Everyone,” “Green River,” “Down on the Corner,” “The Midnight Special,” and “Fortunate Son.” Most bands take years and years to collect enough songs for a Best of Compilation: CCR did it in one.
You could do the same thing again simply by listing the hits on Cosmos Factory, which came out in July of 1970. “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” “Run Through the Jungle,” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” are three amazing songs, and it’s hard to believe where Fogerty was getting all these songs from. “Tambourines and elephants are playing in the band/Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon?”
And then, like all bands, it was gone. Over the next two albums there were hits, but nothing like that output. “Someday Never Comes” from 72s Mardi Gras is still one of my favorite songs of his, but the inspiration well ran dry until Fogerty’s solo career took off and he got sued for sounding too much like himself.
WHO THEY INFLUENCED:
While the primary force behind CCR was definitely John Fogerty, the rest of the band—Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford—helped create a sound that would become iconic of American Rock & Roll. They were a melting pot of influence, and what came out was pure gold. In this manner, they would be the influence for an entire genre of Rock.
The critics sung their praises then, and they sing them now. They were a major influence behind the Alt-Country movement, and literally any American rock band for the rest of the Seventies. That influence holds strong today. One of my favorites is Mavis Staples’ powerful rendition of “Wrote a Song For Everyone.”
WHY WE SHOULD BE LISTENING TO CCR:
Every Fourth of July, the music of CCR blasts out from car radios and shitty computer speakers because they are just that band. I can’t think of another group of songs that so many people get behind like Creedence’s best.
Their music is a barbeque with fire works and friends and beer. Because, holy shit, that intro on “Fortunate Son.” Because the Dude never found his Creedence tapes. Because they wrote a song for everyone.
FIVE ESSENTIAL CCR TRACKS:
Wrote A Song For Everyone
Lookin’ Out My Back Door
Someday Never Comes
Article: Christopher Gilson