John Fogerty has been a musical force for more than 50 years, both fronting Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) and as a solo artist. He is a true artist in every sense of the word: singer, songwriter, musician.
CCR has sold 28 million albums, according to the RIAA. In Addition, John can claim another 4 million as a solo artist. Fogerty is a member of both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (CCR: 1993) and Songwriters Hall of Fame (2005).
Both of my parents worked at my school, from kindergarten through 12th grade. My mom would fasten a bow twice the size of my head into my pinned-up hair in the mornings before shuffling me into the gold car. I couldn’t tell you what type car it was. But I can tell you it had windows you had to crank down by hand (or as a 4-year-old, two hands). My dad and I would drive to Providence Day School each morning, singing one of three things: “Praise Ye the Lord (Alleluia),” “Lord of the Dance,” or, if we were feeling crazy, we’d crank up songs from the 1994 album, Choo Choo Boogaloo: Zydeco Music for Families, by Buckwheat Zydeco.
Yes, my favorite Buckwheat Zydeco song was “Cotton Fields (The Cotton Song).” Now, I know this song isn’t a CCR original. But the Lead Belly tune touched the likes of Cash and the Beach Boys and Elvis and Charley Pride. The transcendent nature of it is powerful. The song was written in 1940, appearing on CCR’s album in 1969, all the way to 2001 from the stereo of the gold car.
So when selecting my favorite CCR song, I wanted to say “Fortunate Son” or “Bad Moon Rising.” But those didn’t feel like time machines into a moment for me. That’s why the winner is “Cotton Fields.” It does exactly what the best songs do. It takes you back to a moment or time or feeling. Songs that evoke nostalgia are the ones that stick with us. So yeah, Fogerty kicked ass on all his songs. Listening to “Bad Moon Rising” and “Lodi” while driving with the windows down makes me feel like the cool girl main character in some classic film. But when I hear “When I was a little bitty baby…” hit the radio, I’m back in the gold car with crank-down windows and off-key singing and oversized bows. And that’s pretty damn special.
I’m listening to “Green River” right now and trying to remember if it’s been in a movie. Pretty much any period piece from the ’70s has its obligatory CCR cameo, and this one feels like it should be in a movie. Probably a scene with a wild young protagonist enjoying a night on the water, and getting into some trouble.
Just cheated and looked it up. It was in an episode of King of the Hill called “Hank’s Back Story.” So that’s good enough for me. There isn’t a CCR track I’ll ever skip. But I’m writing this on a Friday, and “Green River” just has a fun sound that makes ya feel right at home on a backwoods weekend.
“Oh, let me remember things I love / Stoppin’ at the log where catfish bite / Walkin’ along the river road at night / Barefoot girls dancin’ in the moonlight.”
Who says no to that kind of evening (other than the catfish)? Happy 76th, John Fogerty. Thank you for all the soundtracks you’ve contributed to, and created for so many people’s lives on rivers and in bayous everywhere.
‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’
“Do you find them much, these stolen cars?” – The Dude
“Sometimes. Wouldn’t hold out much hope for the tape deck, though.” – Police Officer 1
Fans of 1998’s The Big Lebowski don’t need an explanation. But for the rest of ya: The Dude’s car was stolen, along with his business papers (he’s unemployed), tape deck, and Creedence tapes (he hates The Eagles, man).
Miraculously, The Dude’s car is found, along with his tape deck and the Creedence. After a “thorough” check-up at the doctor’s office, The Dude is back in his car—beer and joint in hand—slapping the metal roof as he jams out to “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”
And that’s what CCR’s “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” is for me. A roof-banging celebration from my favorite movie and favorite CCR album, 1970’s Cosmo’s Factory.