Let's Pretend We Are Talking in a Bar About the Great John Fogerty - Colin Gawel

John Fogerty is playing The Jack Casino in Cincinnati Friday August 27th. I'm going.

The movie Green Room made me go back and listen to Green River.

I was going to use that as the title of this story but figured nobody would know what the hell I was talking about. Anyway, it's funny how things work out. This summer my wife and I had a brief window of free time and decided on a whim to go check out a matinee screening of the movie Green Room. We had heard good things about it. The clerk at the Gateway said, "It's a lot of fun."

It was a fun movie if fun means punk kids getting stabbed in the head and young musicians getting their throats ripped out by Nazi pit bulls.  Nothing against the movie, it's pretty damn good, it's just not what we normally have in mind for our typical "date" entertainment. My wife had her hands over her face the entire time. 

As the final credits rolled and one of the pit bulls walked peacefully past what could be his final victim I turned to my wife - who was still covering her face - and said, "What is this song? It's amazing. It sounds like Creedence?" The song was "Sinister Purpose" from the record Green River.  Huh. How I did I miss this nugget? I thought I knew all the good CCR stuff. (Listen Here)

Apparently not. I decided it was time to go back with fresh ears and give it all another listen. AND I finally got around to reading John's autobiography which I had been meaning to do since reading this review by James A. Baumann.

OK, I don't have the time/energy/talent/beer to organize all my thoughts into pleasing prose at this time. I just have to get these thoughts off my mind before going to see Fogerty this Friday in Cincinnati. Let's just pretend we are standing at Colin's Coffee or Four String Brew and I just start rambling off thoughts. You can pretend you are there and start yelling back why I am wrong.

- In 1969 Creedence had the greatest year of any rock band in history. They released THREE classic albums in ONE Year. They outsold The Beatles and did it by completely flying into the face of what was popular at the time (tight, great 3-minute SONGS as opposed to endless jams or, God help us, concept records). They headlined a little festival called Woodstock, but because they refused to let their music or images be used in the film or soundtrack, not many people know they even played that weekend. 

- For these reasons, overall rocking-ness and the bands' continuing relevance, one could make the case that CCR are the greatest American rock band ever. They have hits like the Beach Boys, lyrics as strong as Bruce or Bob and the punk/grunge influence on a generation similar to the Ramones. Once again it's worth mentioning that in a two year period they had TEN top five singles, (OK, "Fortunate Son" was #6) and they outsold The Beatles in 1969 and 1970. I know The Beatles were breaking up and coming to an end, but it still counts to be the man who beat the man. Just ask Buster Douglas. 

- Taken in context of the Vietnam war, the draft, and the campus riots nationwide, the song "Fortunate Son" is the greatest protest song in American history. Or as James Baumann puts it, "the first punk rock song." 

"Some folks are born made to wave the flag
Ooh, they're red, white and blue
And when the band plays "Hail to the chief"
Ooh, they point the cannon at you, Lord
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no senator's son, son
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no
Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don't they help themselves, oh
But when the taxman comes to the door
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes
It ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no millionaire's son, no
It ain't me, it ain't me; I ain't no fortunate one, no"

Holy Shit! (John, by the way, served two years in the reserves, active duty.)

- Two hundred years from now, songs like "Proud Mary," "Lookin' Out My Back Door" and "Centerfield" will be held in the same esteem as the works of Mark Twain and Walt Whitman. It could be possible that only Bruce Springsteen's songs will have left a bigger mark on America than John Fogerty. Yes, John could eventually be considered more important than Dylan.

"Left a good job in the city
Workin' for the man ev'ry night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleepin'
Worryin' 'bout the way things might have been"

"Just got home from Illinois,
Lock the front door, oh, boy!
Got to sit down,
Take a rest on the porch.
Imagination sets in,
Pretty soon I'm singin'.
Doo, doo, doo,
Lookin' out my back door."

"Well, a-beat the drum and hold the phone
The sun came out today
We're born again, there's new grass on the field
A-roundin' third and headed for home
It's a brown-eyed handsome man
Anyone can understand the way I feel

Oh, put me in coach, I'm ready to play today
Put me in coach, I'm ready to play today
Look at me, I can be centerfield"

- John Fogerty is now my favorite guitar player. I love the way John finds a guitar hook and before rushing off to the next lick, he lets you hear it a couple of times. It's why CCR "jams" like "Ramble Tamble" hold up and jam bands never do. 


Off the top of my head, my new personal guitar hero rankings 1) John Fogerty 2) Willie Phoenix 3) Bruce Springsteen 4) Chuck Berry 5) Pete Anderson 6) Angus Young 7) Willie Nelson 8) Ace Frehley 9) John Speck 10) Andy Harrison

- John got screwed worse than any white musician in pop history. He lost all his songs. He got sued for sounding like himself. It went all the way to the Supreme Court. He lost all his money in an off-shore account set up by his label. Fantasy record owner Saul Zaentz is truly an evil bastard who is hopefully rotting in hell as I write this.

- I'm sure working with John was no walk in the park but many of the greats are a huge pain in the ass. But the fact that his Creedence band mates sold their "votes" to Saul for $30,000 so he could outvote John on band issues 3-1 is beyond contemptible. John was justified in his refusal to play with Doug, Stu and his brother Tom after that knife in his back. John may have been a load to handle, but without his talent and work ethic nobody in that group gets rich or famous. 

- Still, John likes to bash his former band mates lack of musicality but I have to defend the original CCR on this one. No matter how many crack musicians John stacks in his solo band, there is a magic to the original line-up that cannot be recaptured live. The most talented band isn't always the best band. See: Neil Young and Crazy Horse in which Neil obviously was trying to follow the path CCR had laid down. Watch below. 

OK, that's it for now. Let's continue this discussion over a beer at the Cleveland Browns kick-off party at Four String Brew Sunday, September 11th. League Bowlers playing a FREE set at noon, sure to include some CCR. 

Colin Gawel is going to see John Fogerty in Cincinnati Friday August 26th.