I Ain’t No Fortunate Son – A Six-Pack of CCR

Not too long ago, fellow blogger and undisputed King of all Tribute Bands Christian posted some of his favorite Creedence tunes. (Good band history too.) I figured I’d take a crack at this, not remembering his exact list and not wanting to look at it to influence me unduly.

Later I went back and looked and it’s probably a testament to the greatness of their tunes that our lists have exactly one song in common. (I did a post on “I Put a Spell on You” long ago otherwise it would most definitely be on here.)

Who doesn’t love at least one CCR song? If not two? A critical and commercial favorite since day one, they have no bigger fan than one Bruce J. Springsteen who recognizes great songwriting when he hears it. (I think songwriters appreciate other songwriters more than say, guitarists appreciate other guitarists.)

First up, “Fortunate Son” – From 1969’s Willy and the Poor Boys with its cover in front of a joint called the Duck Kee Market in Oakland, CA, not too far from Fantasy Records.* This was released at the height of the Vietnam War which tore this country apart even more than tRump is attempting to do.

According to John Fogerty, it “speaks more to the unfairness of class than war itself. It’s the old saying about rich men making war and poor men having to fight them. The thoughts behind this song – it was a lot of anger. So it was the Vietnam War going on… Now I was drafted and they’re making me fight, and no one has actually defined why.

So this was all boiling inside of me and I sat down on the edge of my bed and out came “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son!” You know, it took about 20 minutes to write the song.”

And so a great political statement with a rockin’ beat. Unfortunately today it probably would be taken as anti-military but it is not. Basically it’s saying – in its own way – War! Huh! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing! (See what I did there?)

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Speaking of straight up rock and roll, few bands did it better. Their 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory (named for their drummer’s reaction to their intense rehearsal schedule) is a great album which has not one bad tune.

Fogerty wrote the song “Travelin’ Band” about life on the road. Patterned perhaps a little too closely after “Good Golly Miss Molly” (plagiarism suit settled out of court) it’s a rave-up. If the punks had a problem with their forebears, I don’t see how when this no-nonsense rocker clocks in at a tidy 2:08.

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John Fogerty: “I put “Born on the Bayou” in the swamp where, of course, I had never lived. (Fogerty is from California and is about as Southern as I am – ME). I was trying to be a pure writer, no guitar in hand, visualizing and looking at the bare walls of my apartment.

Chasing down a hoodoo. Hoodoo is a magical, mystical, spiritual, non-defined apparition, like a ghost or a shadow, not necessarily evil, but certainly other-worldly. I was getting some of that imagery from Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.”

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On the surface, the song “Lodi” concerns itself with a musician who sets out for fame and fortune only to find himself in the (real) small town of Lodi, California. Fogerty had (again) never been there but picked it because it had the “coolest-sounding name.” (There are, one supposes, worse places to be stuck as it is smack-dab in the middle of wine country.)

But the much-covered song’s lyrics are seen, I think, as one being stuck in their own personal Lodi, their own inescapable Twilight Zone. (Cue Rod Serling.)

I rode in on the Greyhound
I’ll be walkin’ out if I go
I was just passin’ through
Must be seven months or more
Ran out of time and money
Looks like they took my friends
Oh Lord, I’m stuck in Lodi again

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I’ll take a side trip on this Revival to CCR’s final album, Mardi Gras. The other guys in the band – despite having no discernible songwriting talent – wanted their share of the goodies that came with that. So John decided to let them go ahead and do it. (Tom Fogerty had by then left the band in another of those “brothers should never play in a band together” stories. Tom died and they never reconciled.)

The first hit from the album is a great rocker called “Sweet Hitchhiker” and it doesn’t seem to have much more meaning than picking up a young lady (back when you could hitchhike safely) and making music at the Greasy King. (This was apparently a restaurant the band frequented. Sounds like a place you eat when you’re stoned.)

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Lastly, from Cosmo’s Factory, CCR’s ode not to travel as such, but to coming home from the road. It’s called “Long As I Can See the Light.” and it’s a terrific, soulful tune. In case you’re wondering, that’s Fogerty on sax. Is there anything this guy can’t do?

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*Fantasy and Fogerty have a long, long history of mutual antipathy and litigation. One of his cases with them – Fantasy’s contention that Fogerty plagiarized himself (!) – went all the way to the Supreme Court.

Fogerty won, forcing Fantasy to pay his attorney’s fees. (Which he had to then fight to get.) A silver lining is that Justice Rehnquist in his decision called them one of the greatest rock ‘n roll bands of all time. So, there’s that.

29 thoughts on “I Ain’t No Fortunate Son – A Six-Pack of CCR

  1. There’s actually a Lodi, Ohio, too. Never visited, but it’s probably a helluva lot worse than the one in the Golden State, and I’d hate to be stuck there.

    Great little band, and hard to believe they originated from the Bay Area in the ’60s, which is a testament to John Fogerty’s skill as a singer and songwriter.

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    1. Yeah, like the best writers – song or otherwise – he puts his imagination to good use. I’ve been listening to them since “Proud Mary” and I would have sworn he’d be from the Deep South.

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  2. So now I’ve been downgraded back to king from emperor of tribute bands?!😭

    BTW, I don’t believe I know of a CCR tribute band. Given how many popular songs these guys have released, might this be a market opportunity?🤔

    John Fogerty and CCR prove there’s a timeless quality to well-written rock tunes and that songs don’t have to be complicated to be great.

    Taking three or four chords and writing a song isn’t overly complicated; doing so and write a great song is an entirely different story!

    The latter is exactly where I think John Fogerty shines. Add to this a cool voice, and you have the critical ingredients for great music. Being a fairly decent guitarist doesn’t hurt either!

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    1. Sorry about that your majesty. I blame jet lag for the lapse. 😂 Funny you should ask but this unit called “Classic Albums Live is coming to my neck of the woods this weekend! (I’m writing this from out-of-town, not back till Sunday night.) They are going to play “Chronicle Vol 1” and, i assume, other stuff. As to Fogerty, I think you either have that ability or you don’t (as his bandmates proved.)

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        1. We are in an awesome part of the US where I have encountered quite a few Europeans, especially your countrymen. This is hardly a travelogue blog but I will definitely do a couple of posts.

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        1. Two thoughts: A) Crowdfunding or 2) Have the governor recognize you as Emperor of All Tribute Bands and give you a front-row pass to all tribute shows. Come on, man. Think outside the box. 😂

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        2. Ha, there are two brilliant ideas indeed.👍

          Though unlike N.J.’s previous governor, who was a self-declared big Bruce Springsteen fan (probably because he ignored the lyrics or didn’t get them!), I don’t know about the incumbent. Most politicians I find aren’t particularly groovy.

          I suppose this would still leave me with the crowdsourcing option…🤔

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      1. Been spending a lot of time on my photography lately. We’re actually doing a winter market later this year and it’s a lot of work getting ready for it. I’ve had to put a lot of stuff on hold.

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  3. As we don’t really have Bayous or indeed, huge Paddle Steamers in the UK, and ‘Deep’ South for us Northerners is London!!
    CCR possibly didn’t connect in exactly in the same way as they did in the USA, but they sure did connect.
    (Much like hot rods, surfer girls and surfer guys and California sunshine were pretty thin on the ground in the North West of England, it never stopped total enjoyment for this Brit of the Beach Boys)
    So, a much enjoyed ‘Six’ of CCR from the UK
    Proud Mary….pretty much started the ball rolling for me.
    Born on the Bayou…. likewise.
    Green River……. “Barefoot girls dancing in the moonlight” works for me.
    Up around the bend….. “Bring a song and a smile for the banjo…. likewise.
    Have you ever seen the Rain….. Did I mention that I live in the North West of England??
    Last but by no means least
    Hey tonight…… “gonna get it to the rafters” Oh yeah!!!

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  4. Great post Jim! What has always amazed me about CCR is the incredible number of great songs in such a short amount of time! Some bans spend decades and they never have the number of great songs CCR had in just s couple years.

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  5. Cracking selection – a challenging discography to whittle down to a half dozen. I’m always amazed by how many albums they spat out in such a short space of time

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