Saturday, 22 June 2013

John Fogerty "Wrote a Song for Everyone"

Among the many living legends from the dawn of the classic rock era, few are more respected by fellow musicians and less appreciated by modern music fans than John Fogerty; the main man of Creedence Clearwater Revival from 1967-1972, and writer of countless hits still sung in peoples to this day, and someone who I regard as the first truly bad ass guitarist.

CCR were difficult to group at the time. They broke out at the peak of psychedelic rock, even playing Woodstock along with artists Janis Joplin and of course Jimi Hendrix, so they were kind of clumped in to that psychedelic group, even though their music was nothing of the sort. Nowadays when music historians look back on the time, they refer to it as “Roots Rock” or “Americana”, often crediting John Fogerty as one of the earliest creators of the genre which would eventually evolve in to Southern Rock.

After countless hits with CCR, the band could no longer take all the bad blood between them, so after the critically panned Mardi Gras album, the band called it quits. Ever since then, band mates Stu Cook and Doug Clifford stayed around the music business, eventually forming the nostalgia band Creedence Clearwater Revisited. Tom Fogerty, John’s brother, passed away in 1990 due to AIDS. John Fogerty continued on with a successful solo career, releasing many solo albums and has continued to tour extensively to this day.

This past May, John released his latest solo album called Wrote A Song For Everyone, named after the classic song from CCR’s Green River album. This album is comprised of covers of his many hits throughout his career, mostly with CCR, with a few solo tracks re-done as well as two brand new tracks. Each song (with the exception of the two brand new tracks) were recorded as duets, with guest musicians on every single track singing along with John. Most of the songs are closer to a country style or country-rock if you will, since most of the duets are with country artists.

There are some rock musicians that guest on tracks; take the opening track for example. Fortunate Son, the anti-war anthem originally from the 1969 album Willy and the Poor Boys and still heard on movie soundtracks to this day, was re-recorded on this album with modern rock super giants Foo Fighters. This song was initially recorded for Dave Grohl’s Sound City soundtrack, but instead of including it on the soundtrack, John released it on this album. This version of the song sounds very similar to its original recording, just with a bit more of a full sound to it thanks to the veteran band chemistry that Foo Fighters have, with Dave and John switching lead vocals. This song gives listeners the first song, for those who didn’t know, that John’s voice is NOT what it used to be. Of course at the age of 68, this was expected.

Before I continue talking about the rest of the re-recordings, I want to discuss the new tracks. The reason being that throughout this article I may mention, as I did when talking about Fortunate Son, how John’s voice is nowhere near what it used to be. One thing to realize is that John’s voice now does not sound bad, just hearing his aged voice sing songs we’re familiar with makes his voice seem less than good. When hearing his voice sing the new recordings, Mystic Highway and Train of Fools, it is obvious that John is still every bit a credible musician who can still make fantastic tunes. The former of the two songs sounds something of what a lot of his solo stuff has sounded like; a southern rock sound just a tad more light-hearted than the stuff he did with CCR. There are a lot of elements in Mystic Highway that screaming country music, but it is sure to please classic rock fans. The same can be said about Train of Fools, only this time the song has a darker sound to it.

Continuing with the covers, while most of the songs are from CCR’s catalogue, two are re-workings of John Fogerty solo tunes. Almost Saturday Night was originally a song that reminded me of the CCR song Hey Tonight, specifically for its guitar introduction. The re-worked version for this album, done with country veteran Keith Urban takes away a lot of the CCR sound from the original version but turned it in to a terrific country rock song. For the rare listener who has never heard a single John Fogerty song in their life, either solo or not, this song may sound the best to them from this album. The other re-done solo track is Hot Rod Heart, originally the textbook definition of the perfect riding tune. This re-done version, with Brad Paisley keeps this song every bit the riding song that it initially was, just adding in the sound of modern country that may likely appeal to modern country music fans. The best part of this song is the guitar solo. I’m not sure if you know this, but Brad Paisley is one hell of a guitar player, and the guitar solo of this song shows just that.

The rest of the tracks are all CCR re-recordings. A special moment on the album is the song Lodi, one of my personal favourite CCR tunes. As a huge fan of the original, I’m not too thrilled with the new bluegrass sound the song takes; I prefer the somewhat gloomy ballad-like sound of the original. But I did say this song is a special moment, and I meant that, because it unites John with his sons Shane Fogerty and Tyler Fogerty both playing guitar.

Miranda Lambert had the privilege of performing the title track, Wrote a Song for Everyone with John. Of all the re-worked song on this album, this song best captures the feel of its original version, mainly seeing as how the original version of the song was very much a country-rock song. Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello provides the guitar solo and does a surprisingly well job, but his showy style just doesn’t fit the song correctly and would have suited something like Fortunate Son over a slow and heavy-hearted song such as this one. Miranda’s voice, however, fits the song perfectly.

The country covers continue with the uber-classic Bad Moon Rising, performed with the Zac Brown Band, who already have a natural southern rock sound, manage to remake this song in to a pretty enjoyable tune, albeit nowhere near the sheer excellence of the original, but again for that rare listener who has never heard the original, I’m sure they enjoy this version...until they hear the original version. Country bad boy Kid Rock performs with John on what I think is the perfect song that John has ever recorded that fits Kid Rock’s style, and that song is Born on the Bayou. This version of the song is every bit as much of a badass song as it ever was. The last of the country-rock re-workings is with a legend, Mr. Alan Jackson performing on the fan favourite Have You Ever Seen The Rain. This is another of the CCR songs that initially already had a strong country-rock feel, so needless to say this re-working sounds pretty natural in its new form.

The Foo Fighters aren’t the only rock band to have performed on this album. My Morning Jacket, a band of many styles including country rock, performs Long As I Can See The Light with John. Lead singer Jim James doesn’t put nearly as much heart in to singing this song as John did on the original 1970 version of the song. Luckily when John’s vocals come in, they pick up the slack. Indie band Dawes are the last of the rock bands to perform on the album, playing Someday Never Comes. This song is similar to its original version, right down to the drum clicks. The original version of this song came at a time where CCR were said to have been releasing their most lacklustre material, which may have been true, but this version of the song, as well as the original, have the perfect feel to them to make the song hard to categorize.

When I saw that the last song on the album, Proud Mary, featured R&B/soul singer Jennifer Hudson, I immediately thought to myself “this is going to be a copy of the Ike & Tina Turner version of the song, isn’t it?” Well I was sort of right. It starts off slow with Jennifer singing the way Tina Turner performed her classic version of the song, but then it speeds up back in to a country sound, with a pace somewhere between the slow CCR version and the fast Ike & Tine version of the song. It is still more similar to the latter version, but thankfully it isn’t a full cover of either and rather another re-working and a rather understandable conclusion to the album.

As a person who isn’t the fondest of country music, I had to open my mind when listening to this album. It wasn’t hard to hear that this is still very much a rock album, and it isn’t hard to now hear the similarities in modern country music and some of even the most classic of CCR songs. Frankly, the album is great. I’d recommend it to any country fan or John Fogerty fan. As mentioned, John’s voice is not nearly as good as it used to be. It is at its worst at the beginning of the album, but that’s because it starts off with the most aggressive song on the album and then works its way down. It is still hard not to compare John’s voice now to John’s voice in the 60’s/70’s, but that doesn’t change the fact that, even though I’m not sure the album was the most necessary of releases, it is still a terrific one.


Who’ll Stop The Rain” –­ I’ll be completely honest and straight forward here; on an album such as this, it is downright impossible to pick a highlight. Picking an album of all re-worked material is not something that a highlight should be selected from, but since I put a highlight on every article, I chose my favourite CCR song altogether. Along with John on this track is a classic rock presence almost as great as himself; Bob Seger. This version of the song is slowed down from its original recorded version, adding to the already heartfelt delivery of the song. Bob’s voice, just like John, has aged to a far cry from the voice that originally made his classics such as Old Time Rock and Roll and my personal favourite Hollywood Night, but these two rock godfathers show they know how to perform, and show exactly why they are still performing after over four decades of making music. I can’t help but wish these two got together back in their prime to record this song, because THAT would have just been spectacular.
I've been completely striking out for videos lately, all I could get was this 2 minute sample of the song.



8 (Out of 10)


Track List:

"Fortunate Son" (with Foo Fighters)
"Almost Saturday Night" (with Keith Urban)
"Lodi" (with Shane Fogerty and Tyler Fogerty)
"Mystic Highway"  
"Wrote a Song for Everyone" (with Miranda Lambert featuring Tom Morello)
"Bad Moon Rising" (with Zac Brown Band)
"Long as I Can See the Light" (with My Morning Jacket)
"Born on the Bayou" (with Kid Rock)
"Train of Fools"  
"Someday Never Comes" (with Dawes)
"Who'll Stop the Rain" (with Bob Seger)
"Hot Rod Heart" (with Brad Paisley)
"Have You Ever Seen the Rain" (with Alan Jackson)
"Proud Mary" (with Jennifer Hudson featuring Allen Toussaint and Rebirth Brass Band)

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