by Dan Hack
Certainly the readers of BG: Blues & Music news are familiar with John Fogerty, the singer-songwriter-guitarist of Credence Clearwater Revival fame. What you may not know is that he has taken multiple trips to Mississippi in his life and there was one particularly inspiring visit to the (purported) grave of Robert Johnson. John was at the gravesite in the Mississippi heat, and “I was wondering who owned his songs.” As he told a reporter from The Wall Street Journal, he said to himself, “It doesn’t matter, Robert. The whole world knows those are your songs.”
[pullquote]So does the whole world know that, among dozens of hit songs, John actually wrote “Proud Mary”? [/pullquote]
So does the whole world know that, among dozens of hit songs, John actually wrote “Proud Mary”? Think of all the covers done ever since, including Ike & Tina Turner’s smashing hit version and Elvis Presley’s. Even Buck Owens and Kenny Rogers covered that one. Beyond writing many great songs, John is an energetic live stage performer. His show Nov.12th in the iconic, beautifully restored Beacon Theatre (quite like the Chicago Theatre) proved that the Grammy winner can still “Keep On Chooglin’”!
His 30 song concert was a real treat. Out of the gate, he kicked off with “Travelin’ Band,” then went right into “Born On The Bayou,” during which the fog machine and green floor lights were pumped up to add a heavy swamp feel to the stage. He had nicely played solos and still very crisp vocals. He did a few covers of tunes he didn’t write, like the Little Richard hit “Good Golly Miss Molly,” and he and his son Shane (who also plays guitar in the band) totally rocked the house in an awesome extended jam with their cover of Smokey Robinson’s “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”.
The hit parade kept on rollin’ with “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” “Lookin’ Out My Backdoor,” and “Lodi.” John’s talent on harmonica came out and he got so excited to be trading licks with his son in the band that he was jumping up and down energetically. John sported his signature look of the flannel shirt. His expert use of acoustic guitar provided the fans with an iconic image: a guy who began his career in the 1960’s and still sounds and looks the same. He did have an interesting change of guitars for the “Centerfield” song: a custom made baseball bat shaped guitar. He had a grin on his face during that entire song.
The cover he did of Leadbelly’s “Midnight Special” got the crowd singing along and up on their feet, which extended to other classics like “Hey Tonight,” “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” “Down On The Corner,” and “Bad Moon Rising”. The other really fun cover he did was Roy Orbison’s “Oh, Pretty Woman” and of course everyone in the Beacon Theatre was singing along with that one. The encore was “Proud Mary” and it had the house rockin’. It was incredible to see him play that CCR hit with such energy after 130 minutes of working so hard, and it was cool to witness the interplay he had with his son Shane on that tune as well. He may be getting older but he sure hasn’t slowed down, and his voice really sounds the same after all these years.
If you’re ever “Goin’ Up Around The Bend” as you “Keep On Chooglin,” do be a “Fortunate Son” and definitely catch his fabulous show – you’ll not be disappointed.
Of Note: John recently released his 10th studio album titled “Wrote A Song For Everyone”. He invited many performers to collaborate on it such as Bob Seeger, The Foo Fighters, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Allen Toussaint, The Rebirth Brass Band, Zac Brown Band and Jennifer Hudson among others. I have listened to it and it’s really a very unique and fine album of his work, I recommend you acquire it for your own enjoyment.
Also: if you do not get the chance to see John’s concert live, there is a DVD out that would be the next best thing, maybe a good thing to ask Santa for………………