John Fogerty’s ‘Fortunate Son’: Story Behind the Classic Song that Sparked Political Debate

by Halle Ames
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Musician John Fogerty reveals the story behind the classic song, ‘Fortunate Son,’ and how it sparked a political debate.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Fogerty talks about the draft. He recalls how most people didn’t support the war, but the government forced them to fight anyway.

“Well, I wrote the song ‘Unfortunate Son’ basically– now you’ve got to remember, way back in the ’60s, I was drafted into the Army Reserves, which I was in for three years. Therefore, that’s a great big subject, but I’ll just tell you that most young people in the late ’60s were against the Vietnam War. I mean, it was pretty much what you might call a left-sided or liberal point of view. Kids did not support the Vietnam War. And also, there was a draft, which meant that many of the young men were going to be conscripted into the military. Perhaps against their will.”

“You Are an American, and That’s What You Do.”

Although Fogerty admits that he was one of the men that was against it, at some point, you have to grow up and do what you are called to do for the sake of your country.

“So, you know, people like me who didn’t support the war and thought it was kind of a stupid foreign policy, you might say– and I believe time has shown that it was. But anyway, and you were never really explained exactly why we are fighting this war. And I don’t think anyone still knows, really. So, that was my position. But I was drafted, and at some point, you stop kicking and screaming and do your duty. I’m trying to make light of it. But there were millions of guys just like me who then went ahead, and because we love our country, you know, regardless of how you feel personally, you are an American, and that’s what you do.”

John Fogerty’s ‘Fortunate Son’

John Fogerty then recalls a “draft dodger” that was the son of a Senator. The man got out of going to the war by having his doctor write him an excuse for “bone spurs”. The singer, like many other young men, was outraged by the family.

“That spurred on my motivation, you might say, to write the song. But I also kind of addressed, you know, again, this class thing… I called it “Fortunate Son” because it was somebody that seems to have it made.”

Political Controversy at Trump Rallies

As for the politics of the song, Donald Trump was using it to play at his rallies. Fogerty says that Trump was exactly like the Senator’s son and who the song was aimed at. It was ironic that he played it at his rallies due to it being more of an insult than a good thing. Learn more on the rallies and Fogerty’s “cease and desist” letter here.

Outsider.com