The Rolling Stone Blog

John Fogerty: My Anger Towards Creedence Bandmates Has Faded

The Rolling Stone Blog

For 25 years after Creedence Clearwater
Revival's bitter 1972 split, John Fogerty famously refused to
play any of his old band's songs in concert. For more than a decade now, though,
he's been mixing the material into his set lists. And this fall, he's diving
deeper than ever, performing the classic LPs Cosmo's Factory and
Green River in their entirety during shows at New York's Beacon Theatre
and Caesars Atlantic City in November. We chatted with Fogerty about the shows,
The Big Lebowski, his future plans and the possibility of a Creedence
reunion.

What inspired you to do these complete album shows?
We've
been thinking about this for a while. My wife and I talked about things I have
been doing over the years and we realized that I had really never presented a
whole album as an entity. I had just been going along freeform, the way that
most people do. We thought it would be cool to actually present an album and
play it straight through. In the old days, you dropped your needle and dropped a
record on your record player and it would play all the way through. There was a
certain mystique to that. 

What drew you to these two particular records?
Green
River
is my favorite record and song from those times. I always thought
that really captured my world as a songwriter, and as a musical performer. Of
course, I did that all through my alter ego, the band, Creedence. So, certainly
that was going to be one of the albums. Cosmo's Factory just seems to
be so full of songs that people know. I think there were five or six singles
from that album at the time. Probably before we entered that period in the
Eighties or Nineties where people really did that. I'm thinking of Michael
Jackson and maybe even the Bee Gees. All that stuff came out after Cosmo's
Factory
though.

Are there any songs that you haven't played in a good 40
years?
Yeah, a few. I don't think that I've ever played "Sinister
Purpose" anywhere other than rehearsal and in the recording studio. Also,
"Cross-tie Walker" has been pretty elusive. I don't know whether we even played
that during the Creedence time. 

I've seen a lot of artists play albums straight though in recent
years. Familiar songs can take on a new meaning, like hearing Bruce Springsteen
play "Jungleland" after all of Born to Run.
That happens to
us all. You buy an album and you really love it, but as time goes by you don't
actually listen to the album. You tend to skip to parts of it. The album goes
into a closet in your brain. When you listen to it again, all the subtle things
you'd forgotten jump out at you again. For me, it has been really fun thinking
about these albums in that context. Both of them were sequenced in a particular
way. 

I'll tell you what, I bought the first Elvis Presley album when it came out
in 1956. I'd dare to say that I heard that a thousand times. Very subliminally,
I would know what the next song was and when it was coming in. I hadn't heard
that album in 30 or 40 years, but lately I heard it on my iPod. It was like I
was back in 1956 because it was so ingrained. I knew exactly what key, how it
sounded. It's a strange thing to see how invested we are in the music that we
love.

You only have three of these shows booked so far. Are you thinking
about doing more?
Yeah, I think it's certainly a concept worth
pursuing. On any given night we're only really presenting one album. In those
days, an album was just 30 or 40 minutes. My shows are closer to two hours, so
we end up doing a lot of other things. 

So, I think we're going to do more of these shows. For the showcase at the
Beacon, we're trying to present an experience where there's more than just the
music reminding you of those times. I don't really want to say that much more,
but that's the intent. 

I think that some younger fans see Creedence as a singles band. Do
you think this will give people a chance to appreciate the lesser-known
songs?
Yeah, and you're actually hitting on something - though it's
not just the younger fans. One funny development is that Creedence lived on long
past the period when the band broke up and wasn't recording anymore. In the very
beginning, before many people knew about Creedence, we were sort of considered
an underground band, and an album band. Then the hit singles happened, and songs
like "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and "Cotton Fields" became so well-known
people thought of them as singles. 

So, in its own time, Creedence went from being an unknown darling to
Cinderella because we were the little engine that could. We became very, very
well known - maybe even over-exposed, as some used to say. We got to the point
where people were like, "Creedence? They're a singles band. They're just like
the Monkees." I lived through that and chuckled, because there was a time when I
was far away from the music scene.

Then I had my big comeback with "Centerfield." By then, the vintage wine had
aged very well. It was now a collector's item and valuable. All these younger
rock critics were asking me, "Are you surprised with the artistic acceptance of
Creedence?" I would just kind of look bemused and tell them that I didn't do
anything different. I didn't redo anything. It just sat there and something
evolved around it. 

There's so many hits on Cosmo's Factory that it almost seems
like a Greatest Hits album.
Back in the day, when I was younger,
there were a lot of very, very strong songs out there that were hits. I'm
thinking of people like the Beatles and Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and the Rolling
Stones. That is kind of what you had to be in order to compete. In fact, I can
make a sports analogy. In the 1970s, everybody was like the 1927 Yankees. You
had to be like that to get a voice, to even be considered in the game. 

Are you open to the possibility of one day reuniting
with Doug and Stu from Creedence?
Ummmm, yeah. Somebody
asked me this recently
and I was surprised at my answer. I didn't know the
question was coming so I hadn't fallen into my familiar mindset and emotions. I
realized that it had been a long time. I'd lost so much of my anger from those
times. I have a really wonderful life now. It all kind of begins with my
beautiful wife Julie. We've raised a wonderful family. We still have one child
at home, but two of the older ones are off at college. In some ways, I kind of
just scratch my head and go, "Wow, look at all that happened!" I've had a happy
life of looking forward to family things and and looking forward to artistic
things. I haven't really had time to sit around and wonder and ponder the past.
If you feel good and you get busy, especially if you're in love, your heart
heals. You're not carrying a bunch of baggage.

I don't know what stars would have to line up for that to happen . . . but I
realize I didn't have an automatic reaction to the idea simply because I haven't
really wasted mental energy being angry for quite some time.

So, if they called you up and wanted to do something you'd think
about it? Is that what you're saying?
I'm saying it's possible,
yeah. I think the call [laughs] would maybe have to come from outside
the realm. Somebody would have to get me to look at things in a fresh way. My
mind wanders to a truism in life. I'm not going to say that it's personal, but
I've heard this quote many times. Some guy will say, "I ran into my ex-wife the
other day at the mall. We were both with our new families. It was okay, but
after a few minutes I realized why she was my ex-wife." 

Are you working on a new album right now?
Yes, I am right
now actually. I'm not really talking about it yet, but the next album is going
to be very special. There will be other artists on there with me on it. I'm
going to record with some of my very favorite artists. It's going to be a lot of
fun.

Are these new songs or old songs?
There will be some new
songs on it, and I don't really want to get into the rest of it yet.

When a lot of people think about Creedence these days, one of the
first thing that comes to mind is The Big Lebowski. Are you a fan of
that movie?
Yes. I'm also a big fan of Jeff Bridges. Back in 1997, I
was a musical guest on one of the talk shows. I think it was Letterman. I found
myself sitting next to Jeff and he said he had this new movie that it used a lot
of my songs. Turns out it was The Big Lebowski. Of course, as time went by that
movie just took on a life of its own. 

There's a great scene where he's driving down the road with a beer in one
hand and a doobie in the other. He's listening to "Looking Out My Back Door,"
and he drops the joint between his legs. It heats up and his pants catch on
fire. It's really funny. He winds up crashing into a garbage can or a telephone
pole, or both. That's great cinema. It's a great movie moment. I'm flattered and
honored to be part of such a well thought of piece of film. 

Related
The
100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time: John Fogerty
The
100 Greatest Singers of All Time: John Fogerty

 

Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

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