The ephemeral wonder of Creedence Clearwater Revival

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A Song for Everyone: The Story of Creedence Clearwater Revival

John Lingan

Hatchetp. 384£25

Million-selling rock bands are rarely happy families. They are a difficult combination of a creative alliance and a business partnership, which is often set up on a case-by-case basis by people barely out of their teens. They are tested to destruction by long hours, minimal sleep, deafening noise, international travel, a bedroom schedule that would have made Caligula blush, and a seemingly endless cocktail of legal and illegal stimulants. As the old joke goes, there is also a downside.

This is the accepted model. But Creedence Clearwater Revival – which enjoyed a string of spectacular worldwide hits during the brief period between their first big hit in 1969 and their implosion in 1971 – did not comply, rehearsing daily, performing soberly at shows and made up of the same four people. who started playing together in 1958. The undisputed leader of the group, John Fogerty, who wrote and sang all their hits, was invited by Bob Dawbarn of melody maker in April 1970 how they had stayed together for so long when so many other bands parted ways acrimoniously after a year or two. He replied, “I wish the marriage could function as freely as our group”. We have no problem that way.

Although this particular quote does not appear in John Lingan’s book, fans of the band would certainly raise an eyebrow at Fogerty’s gleeful assertion, as over time the singer has assumed iron control over virtually every aspects of Creedence. His fellow musicians were reduced to almost henchman status, including his brother Tom, who quit in 1971 in frustration after being sidelined for years.

A song for everyone draws inspiration from previous Creedence books, including Craig Wener’s Around the curvature (1999), Hank Bordowitz bad moon rising (1998) and that of John Fogerty Lucky Son: My Life, My Music (2015). John didn’t respond to author interview requests and Tom died in 1990, but Lingan spoke at length to original bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford, and there’s plenty of first-hand material here. The story is told in an entertaining way, but strays in interpretation, sometimes presenting questionable opinions as facts while ignoring information that doesn’t suit the author’s argument.

“They were 15 years old and almost all of their heroes were black musicians,” says Lingan; Yet, although their admiration for such artists is well documented, future members of Creedence were also inspired by artists such as Elvis Presley, Link Wray, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. Their first chart entry of 1968 was a cover of Dale Hawkins’ 1957 white Southern rockabilly hit “Susie Q”, while their classic worldwide hit “Bad Moon Rising” was directly inspired by “I’m Left, You ‘Re Right, She’s Gone’ (1955), one of Elvis’ Sun singles that defined the entire rockabilly genre. As Fogerty wrote in his autobiography:

Folk, rock, blues, country, I didn’t make distinctions, I didn’t separate them: “It’s R&B. It is the country. I was young and open to everything. I’m always like that.

Unlike contemporaries such as James Brown or the MC5, Creedence was not overtly political, nor did he write protest songs about the many cultural hotspots affecting 1960s American society. Yet Lingan is distracted by an apparent compulsion to provide detailed accounts of every student protest, civil rights march or development in the endless Vietnam War, despite the fact that all four members of the group managed to avoid conscription and hailed from the outskirts of San . Francisco rather than the separate Deep South.

You don’t have to have lived through the 1960s (which Lingan didn’t) to write about them; but to say that fuss
(1965-66) was “the nation’s first rock ‘n’ roll TV show” ignores the two Party! (1964-66) and American bandstandwhich began broadcasting nationally in 1957. Additionally, although he regularly cites rolling stone, Lingan seems never to have seen an early copy of it, otherwise he wouldn’t describe it in 1969 as “still big, with full-page color advertisements for bands whose records and singles were nowhere near the success of Creedence in the charts”. At the time it was a simple black and white folded large format, with an alternate ink tint to emphasize the cover, very different from the glossy publication it has become. later.

Finally, many readers might strongly disagree with Lingan’s claims that Creedence was “considerably tougher” than the Velvet Underground (“Sister Ray, anyone?); that in 1971 they were “the most famous band in the world” (the Stones and Led Zeppelin would love a word), or the exaggerated and unbearable claim that “for the members of Creedence Clearwater Revival, 1969 was the most great year of their life – the greatest year of the life of an American band ever.’ It turns out that the single that sold more than all the others that year was indeed that of an American band: it was “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies, who, unlike Creedence, had no personality clashes or management issues because it was a set of cartoon characters from one show television animation.

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