Creedence Clearwater Revival – Midnight Special

When I hear John’s voice and that tremolo on guitar I can feel the hairs on my neck rise. John’s voice was just as much of an instrument as his guitar.

In Alan Lomax’s book Folk Song USA, the Midnight Special was a real train… the Southern Pacific Golden Gate Limited. A traditional folk song, Leadbelly popularized it upon his release from Sugar Land prison in Texas, where he could hear the Midnight Special come through. In the song, the light of the train gives the inmates hope: if it shines on them they take it as a sign they will soon go free.

Midnight Special was on the album Willy and the Poorboys. The album peaked at #3 in the Billboard Album Charts. CCR’s version of Midnight Special didn’t chart. Only two versions of the song have reached the US Billboard Hot 100…one by Paul Evans in 1960 and Johnny Rivers in 1965.

 

The Midnight Special

Well, you wake up in the mornin’, you hear the work bell ring
And they march you to the table to see the same old thing
Ain’t no food upon the table, and no pork up in the pan
But you better not complain, boy, you get in trouble with the man

[Chorus:]
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me
Let the Midnight Special shine a everlovin’ light on me

Yonder come miss Rosie, how in the world did you know?
By the way she wears her apron, and the clothes she wore
Umbrella on her shoulder, piece of paper in her hand
She come to see the gov’nor, she wants to free her man

[Chorus]

If you’re ever in Houston, well, you better do the right
You better not gamble, there, you better not fight, at all
Or the sheriff will grab ya and the boys will bring you down
The next thing you know, boy, Oh! You’re prison bound

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Have You Ever Seen The Rain

CCR is one band that crosses genres. I haven’t met many people that don’t like them. I can’t say the same for my band The Beatles, or The Stones, The Who, and others. Country fans, Metal fans, Rock fans, and bluegrass fans. It’s something about John Fogerty’s deceptively simple songs that says something to everyone.

John Fogerty did almost all the overdubs for the band until the Pendulum album when other members contributed. Pendulum is the album this song is on. Time was running out on this great band. John said this song was about the impending breakup of the band…Tom Fogerty had told the band he was quitting after the album was finished.

John’s brother Tom Fogerty quit the band after this album and CCR was then a trio. Tom’s voice was close to John’s and he felt restricted in CCR. If you want to hear what Tom sounded like…check out this post by Christian on the forgotten Forgerty brother. Creedence did release one more album after this called Mardi Gras without Tom and it has a few good songs but it’s not up to their standard.

I could tell you my feelings on this song but just listen to it today and it will make your Friday even better.

The song peaked at #8 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, #3 in New Zealand and #36 in the UK in 1971.

John Fogerty:  “That song is really about the impending breakup of Creedence. The imagery is, you can have a bright, beautiful, sunny day and it can be raining at the same time. The band was breaking up. I was reacting: ‘Geez, this is all getting serious right at the time when we should be having a sunny day.’”

 

From Songfacts

This song is John Fogerty’s take on the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band, and the overall tension in the group at a time when they should have been enjoying their success. The line, “I want to know – have you ever seen the rain comin’ down on a sunny day?” refers to Tom leaving while CCR was at its commercial zenith. The flip side of this single, “Hey Tonight,” is John reassuring the band that all would go well despite the adversity.

Tom Fogerty left the group in early 1971, after this album was released. He released three solo albums before dying of tuberculosis in 1990. A fourth album, completed in 1988, was released posthumously.

According to John Fogerty, this song’s meaning changed for him over time. Introducing the song at a 2012 show in Arizona, he said: “This song was originally written about a very sad thing that was going on in my life. But I refuse to be sad now. Because now this song reminds me of my little girl, Kelsy, and every time I sing it, I think about Kelsy and rainbows.”

Fogerty added that this is his all-time favorite song, even though it’s one he wrote himself.

Musically, this song was inspired by the group Booker T. & the MG’s, whose most famous song is “Green Onions.” They opened for Creedence Clearwater Revival before CCR recorded the Pendulum album. John Fogerty loved the sound of Booker T. Jones’ Hammond organ, so he used it on some tracks for the album, including this one.

According to Stu Cook, this song and another track on the album, “Pagan Baby,” were written and rehearsed from scratch during one recording session. “Pagan Baby” was done in one take.”

This was used in the TV show Tour Of Duty, which was set in Vietnam during the war. >>

Bonnie Tyler covered this song for her 1983 blockbuster album Faster Than the Speed of Night. Her version reached #47 in the UK. >>

In 2006, Rod Stewart covered this song on his album Still the Same… Great Rock Classics of Our Time. >>

Allison Moorer covered this for her 2015 Down To Believing album. She explained why to Billboard magazine: “The record label wanted me to do a cover. I said ‘I don’t really think the record needs a cover on it,’ and we certainly have enough songs, but in the spirit of being cooperative, I said ‘OK, if you really want one, I’ll come up with something.'”

“If I was going to do a cover, it was going to be something that I had always wanted to do,” she continued. “I’m a huge Creedence fan, and that song might be my very favorite song of theirs. I’ve always thought it was the perfect country / rock song, and this record to me is a country / rock record, so I thought ‘If I’m ever going to this, this is the perfect time. I think what you hear on the record is actually the second take.”

As part of the CCR50 campaign to honor the 50th anniversary of Creedence Clearwater Revival, a video was commissioned for this song starring Jack Quaid, Sasha Frolova and Erin Moriarty as childhood friends in Montana. Directed by Laurence Jacobs, it takes a nostalgic turn when one of the friends moves away.

Willie Nelson recorded this with his daughter Paula Nelson for his duets album To All the Girls… The veteran country singer’s cover was included in the closing moments of the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies’ season 2 finale on July 21, 2019. The interest generated drove Nelson’s cover to a #36 debut on the Country chart dated August 3, 2019.

Have You Ever Seen The Rain

Someone told me long ago
There’s a calm before the storm
I know it’s been comin’ for some time
When it’s over so they say
It’ll rain a sunny day
I know shinin’ down like water

I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?

Yesterday and days before
Sun is cold and rain is hard
I know been that way for all my time
‘Til forever, on it goes
Through the circle, fast and slow,
I know it can’t stop, I wonder

I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?

Yeah

I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know
Have you ever seen the rain
Comin’ down on a sunny day?

 

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Down On The Corner

This is one of the first bass runs I ever learned…It was on the album Willy And The Poor Boys album.

The song was part of yet another double A-sided single paired with Fortunate Son. Down on the Corner peaked at #3 in the Billboard 100,

On the cover, the band is seen down on the corner performing to a (very) small crowd outside the Duck Kee Market. This location had no real significance except it just happened to be half a block from the recording studio. John Fogerty recalls only ever going in there one time, and that was sometime after the album’s release.

The album cover and building and below picture is recently.

Creedence Clearwater Revival in front of the Duck Kee Market in ...

From Songfacts

This song tells the story of a fictional jug band, Willy and the Poor Boys, who were street musicians “playing for nickels, can’t be beat.” The name of the jug band was also the name of CCR’s fourth straight million-selling album.

Just as The Beatles took the role of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Creedence became Willy And The Poorboys for this album. This is the only song that played to the concept, but CCR appeared on the cover as the fictional band. The Willy And The Poorboys persona suited the group, as they really were a basic, hardworking band who paid their dues before hitting it big. They sold the jug band theme by performing this song with a washtub bass and washboard.

John Fogerty did all the singing on this. He recorded a bunch of vocal tracks that were overdubbed to create the effect that he was harmonizing with himself.

The line in this song, “Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo” is often misheard. A journalist named Phil Elwood thought the last part of the line was “Devil’s on the loose,” and published it in a newspaper article. John Fogerty got a big kick out of this, and as a nod to Elwood, put this line into the CCR song “Run Through the Jungle”:

They told me, “Don’t go walking slow
‘Cause Devil’s on the loose”

John Fogerty claims that bassist Stu Cook couldn’t play the bass properly for the song. “Eventually, we spent six weeks rehearsing the song, but Stu still couldn’t do it when we got to the recording session,” Fogerty says in Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music. The problem, according to the CCR frontman, was that Cook had no rhythm. This led to a tense moment in the studio, but they eventually managed to get the song down.

Down On The Corner

Early in the evenin’ just about supper time,
Over by the courthouse they’re starting to unwind.
Four kids on the corner trying to bring you up.
Willy picks a tune out and he blows it on the harp.

Down on the corner, out in the street
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

Rooster hits the washboard and people just got to smile,
Blinky, thumps the gut bass and solos for a while.
Poorboy twangs the rhythm out on his kalamazoo.
Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo.

Down on the corner, out in the street
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

Down on the corner, out in the street,
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

You don’t need a penny just to hang around,
But if you’ve got a nickel, won’t you lay your money down?
Over on the corner there’s a happy noise.
People come from all around to watch the magic boy.

Down on the corner, out in the street,
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’;
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

Down on the corner, out in the street
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

Down on the corner, out in the street
Willy and the Poorboys are playin’
Bring a nickel; tap your feet.

 

Pictures from http://www.popspotsnyc.com/creedence/

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Up Around The Bend

Love the beginning riff in this song. This song was the B side to Run Through The Jungle.

It was written by lead singer and guitarist John Fogerty, this is a very upbeat Creedence Clearwater Revival, giving a hint that, as bad as things were in the early ’70s, there might be some hope for the future: Things would improve “Around The Bend.” Bass player Stu Cook described the song as “Kind of the opposite of ‘Run Through The Jungle.'”

This song required a bit of translation for British audiences. In England, if you go “around the bend” it means you go crazy. Then the band toured the UK, they had to explain to the British press that the song was not about dementia or mental problems.

The song peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, #1 in New Zealand, and #3 in the UK in 1970.

 

From Songfacts

In his memoir Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, John Fogerty said that this song came to him when he was riding his motorcycle through the California hills.

Movies this song has appeared in include Michael (1996), Remember the Titans (2000) and Invincible (2006). It was also used in a 2008 episode of the TV show My Name Is Earl. 

Elton John covered this song shortly after it was released, and his version appears on several compilation albums. Hanoi Rocks recorded it for their 1984 Two Steps From The Move album.

In 2016, Wrangler used this in a commercial for their jeans, surprising after John Fogerty lashed out at the company when they used “Fortunate Son” in ads without his permission beginning in 2000. Fogerty doesn’t control the rights to the songs he wrote for CCR, so they can be used without his consent.

Up Around The Bend

There’s a place up ahead and I’m goin’
Just as fast as my feet can fly
Come away, come away if you’re goin’
Leave the sinkin’ ship behind

Come on the risin’ wind,
We’re goin’ up around the bend

Oh

Bring a song and a smile for the banjo
Better get while the gettin’s good
Hitch a ride to the end of the highway
Where the neon’s turn to wood

Come on the risin’ wind,
We’re goin’ up around the bend

Oh

You can ponder perpetual motion,
Fix your mind on a crystal day,
Always time for a good conversation,
There’s an ear for what you say

Come on the risin’ wind,
We’re goin’ up around the bend.

Yeah

Oh

Catch a ride to the end of the highway
And we’ll meet by the big red tree,
There’s a place up ahead and I’m goin’
Come along, come along with me

Come on the risin’ wind,
We’re goin’ up around the bend

Yeah

Do do do do
Do do do do
Do do do do
Do do do do yeah
Do do do do
Do do do do

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River

One of my favorite songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100, #19 in the UK, and #5 in Canada. If you want proof that life isn’t fair… Green River was kept from #1 because of the novelty bubblegum song “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies.

The song is an example of a perfect rock song. Great lick, lyrics, and wonderful guitar fills by John Fogerty.

The song was on the album Green River which peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Chart.

John Fogerty: “Green River is really about this place where I used to go as a kid on Putah Creek, near Winters, California. I went there with my family every year until I was ten. Lot of happy memories there. I learned how to swim there. There was a rope hanging from the tree. Certainly dragonflies, bullfrogs. There was a little cabin we would stay in owned by a descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody. That’s the reference in the song to Cody Jr. [“Up at Cody’s camp I spent my days…”

The actual specific reference, Green River, I got from a soda pop-syrup label. You used to be able to go into a soda fountain, and they had these bottles of flavored syrup. My flavor was called Green River. It was green, lime-flavored, and they would empty some out over some ice and pour some of that soda water on it, and you had yourself a Green River.”

Image result for green river fizzy drink 50s

 

From Songfacts

John Fogerty has said that Green River is his favorite Creedence Clearwater Revival album, in part because it sounds like the ’50s albums by the likes of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash that came out of Sun Records in Memphis.

Asked about his songwriting by Mojo magazine, John Fogerty replied: “More common is me fooling around on the guitar coming up with a riff or a lick or even just a tone which sparks some kind of creativity. Your mind gets a vibe, like the lick for ‘Green River’ – that’s what it sounded like, a green river, haha. And that was a title I had carried around since I was about eight years old.”

Green River

Well, take me back down where cool water flow, yeh
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

I can hear the bull frog callin’ me
Wonder if my rope’s still hangin’ to the tree
Love to kick my feet way down the shallow water,
Shoe fly, dragon fly, get back t your mother
Pick up a flat rock, skip it across Green River

Up at Cody’s camp I spent my days, oh,
With flat car riders and cross-tie walkers
Old Cody, Junior took me over,
Said, you’re gonna find the world is smouldrin’
An’ if you get lost come on home to Green River
Well, come home

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Lookin’ Out My Back Door

When I first started to pay attention to the lyrics to this song…I would have bet Mr. Fogerty wrote it under the influence while looking out his back door. John said the song was written for his son Josh, who at the time was three years old. It was inspired by the Dr. Seuss book And To Think I Saw It On Mulberry StreetIn the book a kid is watching a parade go by with wondrous and magical animals and characters. Fogerty put the action “out my back door” to a place he could escape to.

The song was on the album Cosmo’s Factory… arguably Creedence’s best album. The song peaked at #2 in the Billboard 100 in 1970. Creedence had 16 songs in the top 100 in their short career but no number 1’s. Five songs peaked at #2. I never understood that but that is a post for another day. They were on a small label..Fantasy Records.

The album did peak at #1 in 1970.

There’s a giant doing cartwheels, a statue wearin’ high heels.
Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.
A dinosaur Victrola list’ning to Buck Owens.

Great imagination John…

From Songfacts

Much like The Beatles “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” many people thought this was about drugs when it was really an innocent song inspired by a child. According to the drug theory, the “Flying Spoon” was a cocaine spoon, and the crazy animal images were an acid trip. This was even less plausible than the Beatles misinterpretation since Creedence Clearwater Revival was never into psychedelic drugs.

This is played in the film The Big Lebowski. 

The album cover shows Creedence Clearwater Revival’s rehearsal space, which is not their original digs: they started rehearsing in a shed in the backyard of their drummer Doug Clifford’s house. Clifford once said it was “better than working in a factory,” so their rehearsal rooms became known as “The Factory.” Clifford’s nickname was Cosmo, so this space was known as “Cosmo’s Factory.”

John Fogerty played a bit of dobro on this track. He’s seen holding the instrument on the cover of the 1969 album Green River, but “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” is the only time he played it on a Creedence song. In 1993, he bought a dobro at a vintage guitar show and set out to master the instrument, playing it for hours on end and using it on his 1997 solo album Blue Moon Swamp. He got some help along the way from Jerry Douglas, a preeminent dobro player who was part of Alison Krauss’ band Union Station.

Lookin’ Out My Back Door

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.

There’s a giant doing cartwheels, a statue wearin’ high heels.
Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.
A dinosaur Victrola list’ning to Buck Owens.

Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door.

Tambourines and elephants are playing in the band.
Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon?
Doo doo doo.
Wond’rous apparition provided by magician.

Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door.

Tambourines and elephants are playing in the band.
Won’t you take a ride on the flyin’ spoon?
Doo doo doo.
Bother me tomorrow, today, I’ll buy no sorrows.

Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door.

Forward troubles Illinois, lock the front door oh boy!
Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.
Bother me tomorrow, today, I’ll buy no sorrows.

Doo doo doo lookin’ out my back door.

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Wrote A Song For Everyone

If I had to pick a favorite song of Credence Clearwater Revival it would hard… but this song would be a contender. It’s the way Fogerty wearily sings the lyrics, he sounds so much older than he was at the time. The song is off of the great “Green River” album. The song did not chart.

John Fogerty on writing the song.

“Inspired by my young wife at the time. It was early ’69, and I was 23 years old. We had our first child, who, at the time, was two and a half. I was sitting in my room, writing the songs, pushing my career. Without the songs, the career ends. You might be a great band, but without the songs, you’re not going anywhere. At one point, my wife and I had a mild misunderstanding, I wouldn’t even call it a fight, She was miffed, taking our young son out, wishing I would be more involved. But there I was, the musician manic and possessed the only guy holding things up. Without me, it all collapses, so I’m feeling quite put upon. As she walks out the door, I say to my self, “I wrote a song for everyone, and I couldn’t even talk to you.” I looked at my piece of paper and changed gears. How many great leaders can’t even manage their own families? So I went with that. “Pharaohs spin the message/Round and round and true/Richmonds about to blow up” referring to nearby Richmond, California. It was actually a true emotion that took on a larger meaning. It’s still a special song in the sense that it keeps my feet on the ground. You sit and write these songs, yet you try to talk to your own son and daughter and maybe you’re totally inadequate, trying to explain life to a child. We used to record our album very quickly and I remember finishing five different songs in one afternoon. The fifth one didn’t work, and that was “Wrote A Song For Everyone.” I had to start over on that one.” 

“Wrote A Song For Everyone”

Met myself a comin’ county welfare line.
I was feelin’ strung out, Hung out on the line.
Saw myself a goin’, down to war in June.
All I want, All I want is to write myself a tune.

[Chorus:]
Wrote a song for ev’ryone,
Wrote a song for truth.
Wrote a song for ev’ryone
And I couldn’t even talk to you.

Got myself arrested, Wound me up in jail.
Richmond ’bout to blow up, communication failed.
If you see the answer, now’s the time to say.
All I want, All I want is to get you down to pray.

[Chorus]

[Chorus]

Saw the people standin’ thousand years in chains.
Somebody said it’s diff’rent now, look, it’s just the same.
Pharoahs spin the message, round and round the truth.
They could have saved a million people, How can I tell you?

[Chorus]
[Chorus]
[Chorus]

Creedence Clearwater Revival

This band was rock, country, blues, pop and a little of everything. Their music is played on practically every jukebox and by every self-respecting bar band. The songs are not intricate masterpieces like Bohemian Rhapsody or A Day In The Life but masterpieces all the same.

Bands go their whole career without writing one song that is NOT a love song…this band wrote about everything else but love. Many of their songs have become standards today.  They had songs about rivers, swamps, backdoors, jungles, and riverboats.

The band…or should I say John Fogerty wrote one song after another and kept hitting the charts. At the time it must have felt like the well would never run dry. Their songs were simple but so effective. John has a distinctive sound with not only his guitar but his voice. His voice was an instrument itself that drove his songs.

They were together in the public eye from 1968 to 1972. Creedence was one of the biggest bands in the world during those years. Songs kept coming like Proud Mary, Bad Moon Rising, Who’ll Stop the Rain, Green River, Looking Out My Back Door, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Lodi, Traveling Band and etc… They were a singles band and they were an album band. Albums such as Cosmo’s Factory, Green River, Willy and The Poor Boys are classic albums.

Many people thought they were from the south…maybe Louisiana but they were from El Cerrito, California. Hard to believe they were from the same area as the Grateful Dead and the San Francisco music scene of the late sixties. Creedence was not a jam band like many of their peers, they played songs to the letter. They were called rock, country rock and swamp rock.

The band had 9 top ten hits and 16 songs that charted.

They were originally signed to Fantasy Records by Saul Zaentz to a bad record deal that kept John enslaved to the company long after the band broke up. Saul held the rights to John’s songs. Saul had promised the band, to begin with, that he would renegotiate the contract when the band got more successful…he never did.

The band included guitar player, lead singer and writer John Fogerty, drummer Doug Clifford, bassist Stu Cook and Tom Fogerty (John’s brother) on rhythm guitar. Eventually, Tom, Stu, and Doug started to feel like John’s backup band and wanted more control. Tom quit and Creedence became a trio and took off on a tour and made an album.

The band broke up in 1972. It was a sad thing because who knows how many more songs Creedence could have created. Instead of music, the band bickered back and forth and still will file lawsuits from time to time against each other.

I’ve tried to read a few books about them but it’s hard to get through the name calling and the lawsuits that flew back and forth. They all were friends earlier but Stu, Tom, and Doug would usually take Saul Zaentz’s side against John. The brothers rarely talked to each other before Tom died in 1990.

Creedence at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival Discography

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creedence_Clearwater_Revival_discography

 

Neil Young and John Fogerty Lawsuits

In the eighties, two lawsuits popped up pertaining to these two artists.

Neil Young was basically sued for NOT sounding like himself by David Geffen and John Fogerty was sued for sounding too MUCH like himself by Saul Zaentz and Fantasy Records.

In the early eighties, David Geffen signed Neil Young to a huge contract to Geffen Records. Neil who will do his own thing no matter what or when…released an album called “Trans” his foray into electronic music. Geffen wanted another “Harvest” with another Heart of Gold or Old Man…instead he got “Computer Age” and “We R in Control” with Neil singing through a Vocoder. After that Neil was asked to do more rock and roll by a Geffen record company executive…the record company was thinking more of the lines of the harder rock Rust Never Sleeps…so Neil gave them rock and roll all right… “Everybody’s Rockin” an album full of early fifties Doo-wop and rockabilly sounding songs. The record company was not amused…he then released an album full of country music… In his contract, Neil had full artistic freedom.

Geffen had claimed the new albums were  “unrepresentative” of Neil’s music.

Geffen sued him for 3.3 million dollars but the case was settled and Geffen had to apologize to Neil.

In 1985 John Fogerty finally broke his silence with the album Centerfield. He had not released anything since 1975. He was involved with legal hassles and could not make music. Centerfield was a good album that signaled to the world John was back. He then was sued by Fantasy Records owner Saul Zaentz who signed the great Creedence Clearwater Revival to a terrible contract with Fantasy Records that kept John…the main songwriter and singer under contract forever. On top of that John gave up his copyrights to his CCR songs to Saul and Fantasy just to get out of that contract. The first single off of the Centerfield album “Old Man Down the Road” shot up the charts. Saul sued claiming it sounded too much like an old Creedence song that John wrote and sang called “Run Through the Jungle”. So he was being sued for plagiarizing himself. John would take his guitar to court to demonstrate how he wrote the two songs.

John won the case in 1988 and a lot of other musicians breathed a sigh of relief because other artists could have been sued for sounding like their younger selves if John would have lost. John countersued Fantasy Records for legal fees and it went to the Supreme Court in 1994…. they ruled in favor of Fogerty.