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Creedence Clearwater Revival: America's Band



At this point, my music taste has been made pretty obvious. With ten previous articles written about Muse, they are by far and away my favorite band. But who takes the number two spot? That honor goes to a very special band from Southern California. With their southern style music, rocking sound and American spirit, it's Creedence Clearwater Revival. 

This band has a storied history. Releasing their first album in 1968, Creedence had established themselves as a unique band. Despite their West Coast origins, their sound was undeniably Southern. Singing about bayous, rivers, churches, and other Southern elements, Creedence was a massive hit across both the country and the world. Given the style of their music being completely different from that of Muse, most wouldn't expect CCR to be my second favorite band. Something about Creedence is special to me however. Their music is the perfect soundtrack for any roadtrip, or even just driving in general. For this special edition of aMUSEings, we'll be taking a look at five of Creedence's Greatest Hits, from their entire discography. 


Have You Ever Seen the Rain?: Released in January 1971 as part of Pendulum, Have You Ever Seen the Rain? is one of CCR's most popular songs. We'll get into the reasons momentarily. Credence's instrumentation is as follows; John Fogerty on lead vocals and guitar, Tom Fogerty on rhythm guitar, bassist Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford on the drums. Immediately, the vibe of CCR's music is established. Rooted in the deep south of the US, Credeence's sound truly captures the spirit of America. The guitar and piano in this song really highlight what makes this band special, along with Fogerty's vocals. His voice is full of energy, passion, and soul. Along with that, he is an amazing guitar player. While the two styles are very different from each other, Fogerty does share some similarities with Matt Bellamy of Muse. Both are lead vocalists who can also tear it up on the guitar. Have You Ever Seen the Rain? is a great example of this band's ability to make a slower, heartfelt song that packs an emotional punch.


Up Around the Bend: If there was ever a perfect road trip song, this would be it. Almost everyone has heard this song before, even if they didn't know the band. The opening guitar riff is legendary, and among the best of all time. Fogerty's guitar perfectly encapsulates the American spirit of the late 1960's. Adventure, excitement, and a rocking attitude towards life. His lyrics also help to accentuate this atmosphere. "There's a place up ahead and I'm going, just as fast as my feet can fly. Come away, come away, if you're going. Leave the sinking ship behind.

Come on the rising wind, we're going up around the bend!" Clifford's drums also drive the song forward, bringing even more energy. Just listening to the song makes you feel more alive. As the lyrics fly by, you picture yourself speeding down a highway. That feeling is indescribable. The song nears a close, bringing back the opening riff one more time. Credeence's ability to create such visceral imagery is part of what makes them so special. Up Around the Bend is my personal favorite song from CCR, and it isn't hard to see why. 


Down on the Corner: This was the first song by CCR that I ever listened to, and it remains one of my favorites to this day. Down on the Corner is a metaphor for Creedence, portraying them as school boys playing music on a street corner. The characters in the song each correspond to a member of the band. Willy is John Fogerty, Blinky is Stu Cook, Poorboy is Tom Fogerty, and Rooster is Doug Clifford. As for the song itself, Down on the Corner opens with a simple yet amazing guitar riff. The vibe is immediately uplifting, bringing a wholesome and almost hometown feel to the song. The vocals here are also special. John Fogerty's singing voice is a beauty to listen to. His voice is full of passion, and really brings out the soul in CCR's music. Fogerty's lyrics also contribute to this feeling. "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 Poor Boys are playin', bring a nickel, tap your feet." Down on the Corner doesn't overstay its welcome, at just two minutes and thirty eight seconds long. Just about the perfect length for a song like this. Simple, sweet, and to the point. This song is just such a happy tune to listen to, a true masterpiece from Creedence Clearwater Revival. 


Lookin' Out My Back Door: Another song with a similar vibe as Down on the Corner. Due to the dream-like imagery created by the lyrics and guitar,  Lookin' Out My Back Door could be seen as a song about drugs. John Fogerty later clarified that the song was written for his young son, who had recently read Dr. Seuss. That explains the lyrics about an animal parade with dancing elephants. Fogerty's guitar and vocals here give the impression of a long journey's end. Wanting to return home and lock the troubles outside. "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 doin' cartwheels, a statue wearin' high heels.

Look at all the happy creatures dancin' on the lawn." Again, his vocals are completely filled with soul and heart. Just remarkable stuff. Fogerty's guitar almost sounds like a banjo, especially during the solo. Another genuinely wholesome, happy tune from America's band. 


Keep on Chooglin': To close out this review, we'll take a look at one of their longer tunes. It might surprise you to know that Keep on Chooglin's seven minute and forty five second runtime isn't even close to their longest song. That honor goes to I Heard it Through the Grapevine, at eleven minutes and five seconds. Anyways, Chooglin' is still a beast of a song, especially for  rhythm guitar player Tom Fogerty. Keeping perfect time with the band while just playing alternating beats is brutal, especially for almost eight minutes. He does so perfectly, however, and it helps drive the energy of this song forward. The main guitar riff itself is funky, and perfectly highlights the traditional CCR sound. Fogerty also really goes for it with the vocals, pushing his voice to the limit at some points. The song itself has some rocking energy, especially from the guitar, but can also be a pretty chill track to vibe to. The highlight, by far, of Keep on Chooglin', is the solo. Traditionally, solos are reserved for the guitar, bass, or maybe drums. This song throws that notion out the window. The entire middle section of the song, over three minutes, features a harmonica solo from John Fogerty. The solo is classic Creedence, funky rhythms and notes over some classic guitar and drums. After the harmonica solo wraps, the band even throws in a mini guitar solo. Absolutely insane stuff. Keep on Chooglin' is a masterclass from Creedence Clearwater Revival in how to write long music that stays interesting, with some crazy work on each respective section and instrument. 


Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of the best bands to ever come out of America, and is also one of the best bands in history. Their brief existence of just four years produced some of the most iconic music in America's catalog. 

 

Sources:

Lyrics Written by John Fogerty


Bio:

Austin Eide is currently a junior at Poudre High School. This will be his first year writing for the Poudre Press. He enjoys playing trumpet in Pep Band and is also Captain of the Build Team for 159 Alpine Robotics. Austin also loves building with LEGO and making stop motion movies on YouTube. His blog is dedicated to music, hockey, band, and more!



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