‘Creedence were never the hippest Band in the world – but they were the best!’ (Bruce Springsteen).Embed from Getty Images
‘I know that buried deep inside me are all these little bits and pieces of Americana. It’s deep in my heart, deep in my soul.’ (John Fogerty)
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Gutta cavat lapidem non vi sed saepe cadendo.
A water drop hollows a stone – not by force but by falling often.
Or, if you want to really master a craft you need to put in the hours.
Consider The Beatles in Hamburg forgoing sleep and comfort to play set after set until they were a band that had deep trust in each other and their abilitiy to hold and move an audience.
Consider, today, Creedence Clearwater Revival.
In 1969/1970/1971 there was no doubt who the top singles Band in the World were; how’s this for a sequence of classics:
Proud Mary/Born on the Bayou,
Bad Moon Rising/Lodi,
Down on the Corner/Fortunate Son,
It Came Out of the Sky/Cottonfields,
Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop the Rain?,
Run Through the Jungle/Up Around the Bend,
Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See the Light,
Have You Ever Seen the Rain/Hey Tonight.
Yowza! Yowza! Yowza!
That’s a streak of inspiration and connection with your audience on a par with Chuck Berry or Lennon & McCartney at their peak.
Their omnipresence on the radio and on the charts was the result of years and years of unheralded toil.
Their emergence on the national and world stage only came after a full decade of slogging up and down the Pacific Coast, round the punishing circuit of military bases, small town clubs and dingy dance halls following their formation by Tom Fogerty in 1959 as The Blue Velvets.
Thousand of miles and thousands of hours binding Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, Doug Clifford and John Fogerty together into a potent Rock ‘n’ Roll force.
Stu Cook and Doug Clifford forging a Zen rhythm section with Tom Fogerty.
Sometime, Somewhere along those endless highways, John Fogerty, the 14 year old kid who joined his big brother’s band transmogrified into a world class singer, songwriter and guitarist with a sound and vision of his own that resonated deeply with the society he lived in and zeroed into the heart of the Zeitgeist.
This was a young man who had been electrified by the visceral power of the 50s Rock ‘n’ Roll Masters and who wouldn’t settle for any music that couldn’t match that power – live up to that challenge.
He worked out a recipe for making sure fire great Rock ‘n’ Roll records and then with the fullest measure of inspiration and perspiration set about matching his idols.
First : You just gotta have a great title.
Think, ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Sweet Little Sixteen’, ‘Blue Suede Shoes’, ‘Great Balls of Fire!’.
So, he carried a notebook and every time a title popped up in his head that sounded like the title of a classic song, he carefully wrote it down and set his mind to writing the rest of the song.
Titles in John’s Notebook – ‘Proud Mary’, ‘Born on the Bayou’, ‘Up Around the Bend’, ‘Green River’ and, yes, oh Yes – ‘Bad Moon Rising’.
Second : The Song has to connect with the real lives of your audience.
Think, ‘Schooldays’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’, ‘Dead End Street’.
It should seem so true that once you heard it the first time you could sing it to yourself or a friend (you’d want to share it with a friend) even if the record wasn’t playing in the background.
So, John Fogerty songs are true and resonate whether you’re looking up at the stars in California, Calcutta, Carlisle or Khe Sanh.
Everyone has times when they wonder, for themselves and those around them, Who will stop the Rain?
Everyone has times when they hope, sometimes against hope, that they will be able to hold on and come through as long as they can see at least a glimmer of the light.
Everyone knows one of those Fortunate Sons who is protected by wealth and influence from the grim realities the rest of us have to endure.
Everyone, for humans are a Lunar People hungry for auguries, has at some time looked up into the night sky and said to themselves and to those around them, with dread :
I see a bad moon a-rising … I see trouble on the way … Don’t go ’round tonight
It’s bound to take your life … There’s a bad moon on the rise
Third : You just Gotta have a great Guitar lick.
Think, ‘Johnny B Goode’, ‘Hello Mary Lou’, ‘You Really Got Me’, ‘Gloria’.
So, John Fogerty spent hours and hours with his, ‘Black Beauty’ Les Paul custom searching for that Lick, That Lick, the one that would come roaring out of the radio or Jukebox speakers and turn every head, set every toe tapping, get every heart leaping.
And, time after time, time after time, John Fogerty found that magic Lick – the one you can’t argue about, can’t deny.
The Lick that thrills the first time and still thrills the thousandth time.
Nunc, if you get a great title that resonates with the real lives of your audience and you craft a great Guitar Lick and have a Band who will support you through every bar as you sing that Song with irresistible power you are going to make a great Rock ‘n’ Roll Record.
And,if you are John Fogerty with Creedence Clearwater Revival you will make a Record in, ‘Bad Moon Rising’ that enters the very DNA of Rock ‘n’ Roll.