John Fogerty – Big Train (From Memphis)

Big Train (From Memphis)” was the B-side of “The Old Man Down the Road”, the first 45 rpm single John Fogerty released in 1984. It was his first single release since “You Got The Magic” in 1976.

John Fogerty’s album Centerfield was released in 1985. No one was sure if Fogerty would release anything again at that point. This song has a Sun Records rockabilly feel.

Despite being in the middle of the eighties, Fogerty didn’t really alter his style for this album. Many of these songs would have fit perfectly well on a Creedence Clearwater Revival album. John played all the instruments himself on this album.

It peaked at #38 in the Billboard Country Charts. The Centerfield album peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts, #2 in Canada, and #48 in the UK in 1985. The song was recorded at The Plant Studios in San Francisco.

Big Train (From Memphis)

When I was young, I spent my summer days playin’ on the track.
The sound of the wheels rollin’ on the steel took me out, took me back.

[CHORUS:]
Big Train from Memphis, Big Train from Memphis,
Now it’s gone gone gone, gone gone gone.

Like no one before, he let out a roar, and I just had to tag along.
Each night I went to bed with the sound in my head, and the dream was a song.

[CHORUS]

Well I’ve rode ’em in and back out again – you know what they say about trains;
But I’m tellin’ you when that Memphis train came through,
This ol’ world was not the same.

[CHORUS]

John Fogerty – Rock and Roll Girls

When John Fogerty released the Centerfield album in 1985 I was excited. He had disappeared from the music scene for 10 years. I gave up hope of ever hearing new music from him. I kept hoping he would regroup with Creedence but I didn’t know at that time of the hostile history between them. This album was highly anticipated. I bought the album and it didn’t disappoint.

This is the second track on Fogerty’s Centerfield album, his first in 10 years. The song was inspired by his 12-year-old daughter, Laurie. Fogerty would watch her and her best friend hanging out and jokingly call them the Rock and Roll Girls.

The song peaked at #20 in the Billboard 100, #16 in Canada, #38 in New Zealand, and #83 in the UK in 1985.

 

Rock and Roll Girls

Sometimes I think life is just a rodeo
The trick is to ride and make it to the bell
But there is a place, sweet as you will ever know
In music and love and things you never tell
You see it in their face, secrets on the telephone
A time out of time, for you and no one else

Hey, let’s go all over the world
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls

Yeah, yeah, yeah

If I had my way, I’d shuffle off to Buffalo
Sit by the lake and watch the world go by
Ladies in the sun, listenin’ to the radio
Like flowers on the sand, the rainbow in my mind

Hey, let’s go all over the world
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls

Hey, let’s go all over the world
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls

Hey, let’s go all over the world
Rock and roll girls, rock and roll girls, yeah, yeah, yeah

John Fogerty – Centerfield

Spring training has started and baseball will be returning soon. It’s a good day to listen to John Fogerty’s Centerfield. This was John Fogerty’s comeback after being away from the charts since 1975.

The song peaked at #44 in the Billboard 100 in 1985. The album Centerfield peaked at #1 in the Billboard Album Charts in 1985.

Along with “Talkin’ Baseball” and “Take Me Out To The Ballgame,” this quickly became one of the most popular baseball songs ever. It’s a fixture at ballparks between innings of games and plays at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.

 

John Fogerty: “I’d hear about Ruth and DiMaggio, and as my dad and older brothers talked about the Babe’s exploits, their eyes would get so big. When I was a little kid, there were no teams on the West Coast, so the idea of a Major League team was really mythical to me. The players were heroes to me as long as I can remember.”

“It is about baseball, but it is also a metaphor about getting yourself motivated, about facing the challenge of one thing or another at least at the beginning of an endeavor. About getting yourself all ready, whatever is necessary for the job.”

 

From Songfacts

This song was inspired by Fogerty’s childhood memories of baseball, and although he didn’t play the game, he loved watching it and hearing the stories his father would tell about the legendary New York Yankees centerfielder Joe DiMaggio, who like Fogerty was from San Francisco. 

Fogerty left Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1972 and released solo albums in 1973 and 1975 that sold poorly. For the next 10 years, Fogerty refused to record because of legal battles with his record company, but when Centerfield was finally released in 1985, it hit the mark thanks to this title track. A song about baseball was a risk, as the sport isn’t exactly rock-worthy. In the MLB.com interview, Fogerty said: “Over the years it seemed like sports songs just didn’t qualify into the rock-and-roll lexicon. There was that unwritten distinction. It was never considered rock-and-roll. And I realized creating this song would very much put baseball in a rock-and-roll setting. I expected to be roundly thrashed by owners of the flame.”

One of Fogerty’s idols – Chuck Berry – inspired the lyrics, “Rounding third he was heading for home, it was a brown eyed handsome man,” which is lifted from Berry’s song “Brown Eyed Handsome Man.”

Baseball legends mentioned in this song: Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, and Ty Cobb.

The second verse refers to the legendary Mighty Casey from the epic poem Casey At The Bat. At the end of the story, Casey strikes out. >>

The line, “It’s a-gone and you can tell that one good-bye” comes from the catchphrase of baseball announcer Lon Simmons, who called games for the San Francisco Giants. He would often say, “Tell it goodbye” when the Giants hit a home run.

Fogerty produced this track and played all the instruments.

On July 25, 2010, in honor of the 25th anniversary of “Centerfield”‘s release, Fogerty played the song at the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremonies, where he became the first musician honored by the Hall of Fame – at least the baseball one. Fogerty is in both the Songwriters and Rock and Roll Hall of Fames.

At the ceremony, Fogerty donated a custom-made baseball-bat-shaped guitar to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The 1984 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was held at Candlestick Park in Fogerty’s hometown of San Francisco. This led to erroneous reports that he watched the game from the center field bleachers, leading to this song. Among the publications to report this was Billboard Publications Rock Movers & Shakers.

When George W. Bush was campaigning for president of the US in 2000, he told a reporter this was his favorite song. Bush used to own part of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and liked the line “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.”

Brad Paisely played “Centerfield” at an outdoor festival when he was 13 years old, something he told Fogerty about many years later. After the conversation, Fogerty hit him up for his 2013 album Wrote a Song for Everyone, where he performed his songs with contemporary musicians. Paisely picked a deep cut: “Hot Rod Heart” from Fogerty’s 1997 solo album Blue Moon Swamp.

Fogerty has always been a huge baseball fan; the first book he ever read was Lou Gehrig: Boy of the Sandlot.

When his boys played Little League, Fogerty always got a kick out of listening to this song when it was played during warm-ups.

Centerfield

Well, I 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

Well, I spent some time in the Mudville Nine
Watching it from the bench
You know I took some lumps, when the mighty Case struck out
So say hey, Willie, tell the Cobb
And Joe DiMaggio
Don’t say it ain’t so, you know the time is now

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

Yeah, got it, I got it

Got a beat-up glove, a home-made bat
And a brand new pair of shoes
You know I think it’s time to give this game a ride
Just to hit the ball and touch ’em all
A moment in the sun
It’s a-gone and you can tell that one good-bye

Oh, put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me (yeah), I can be centerfield

Oh, put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in, coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me, gotta be, centerfield
Yeah

Five Baseball Songs

Since the playoffs are in full swing…thought I would list my 5 favorite baseball songs in no certain order.

Take Me Out To The Ball Game – The classic song of the game written in 1908 and still going strong.

Talking Baseball – Terry Cashman released this in 1981 but it didn’t do much in the charts when it was released but has caught on to be a classic.

Centerfield –  John Fogerty on his “comeback” album of the same name. This is played at every ballpark.

Glory Days – Bruce Springsteen – Based off a true encounter with an ex-classmate that Bruce played little league baseball with when they were young.

Did You See Jackie Robinson Hit That Ball – Count Basie