John Fogerty Just Wrote a Song for Everyone Again

Today is Big Music Day in the new album division of the music world.  We started the morning with a new 51-year-old album from Dave Brubeck and Tony Bennett and we end the day with a new bit of wonder from John Fogerty — Wrote a Song for Everyone — and this new album of reconsidered Fogerty old songs is a big hit.  I am a true fan of John Fogerty and his long and historic musical career.  He’s a songwriting genius, but there comes a time in every career when popularity wanes, the road calls, and new music struggles to free a suffocated voice.

What’s a musical SuperGenius to do when the average 5-10 year stretch of hit songs ends?  Do you stop writing?  Is touring, and playing your old songs over and over again, the only sure road home?

You can reinvent your old work — Tony Bennett found great success with his tepid Duets albums — and John Fogerty has now done a similar thing with his new songs set.  He reinvigorates his old music by re-recording them as new duets with a wide variety of otherworldly singers, and the result is both intriguing and confounding.

Here’s a taste of who sings what on the new album:

Here’s an interesting take on the Creedence Clearwater Revival song — “Someday Never Comes” with Dawes — as recently performed on David Letterman.  The musicianship is undeniably great, but the song lyric is so private and tender, I think making it a loud duet is a mistake because the core loneliness of the song is lost:

I appreciate the refreshing of these songs on the new Fogerty album.  I like the newfangled versions of “Fortunate Son” with the Foo Fighters and “Born on the Bayou” with Kid Rock and “Who’ll Stop the Rain” with Bob Seger — because there is a new raw and unexpected energy added to the songs.

The traditional country musicians, and their duets, are more lax and predictable in the outcome — and I don’t find that sort of similarity between original talent and reimagining enough of a delight to make the effort more than a push.

There is no doubt that John Fogerty knows how to write a knee-slapping, engaging, eternal song — and this new album just goes to prove his genius is forever.

8 comments

  • Gordon Davidescu

    Fogerty and Seger — great combination! Love the sound. Thanks for a lovely review!

  • There are so many artists in this… Talk about variety!

    Have you listened to Proud Mary? I just watched a little preview on Youtube (uploaded in April) with some commentary from Jennifer Hudson herself, and it seems really promising. It’s one of those songs you really need to belt out!

    • Hi Emily!

      I am not a big Jennifer Hudson fan. I find her overexposed and overly dramatic — never took to her on American Idol. I do not like her Proud Mary rendition on this album. It feels forced and underachieving. She’s trying too hard to be Tina when she should be trying to make the song her own.

  • another one to look forward to – the list is getting longer by the minute.

  • Gordon Davidescu

    David,

    Fogerty started an “Ask Me Anything” on the popular link site Reddit — he’s answering any question people ask :

    http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/1fa3ed/i_am_john_fogerty_singer_songwriter_and_former/

    • I appreciate how the first question was about John being sued by a former publisher for ripping off his old songs with new versions with different lyrics but the same melody:

      Came to trial in 1988. This is a complicated story and I’ll try to explain it even tho it gets weirder when I try to type it. I really don’t think the case had merit. For instance, when my album Centerfield first came out, I heard a rumor that Fantasy was going to sue me, but at first they were talking about the song Green River. Later they changed their mind to Run Through the Jungle. Seemed they were searching to find something they owned that sounded similar to The Old Man Down the Road. Obviously I finally ended up in a courtroom where I sang a little of both songs and showed how my style on the guitar evolved, making many of the things I do sound similar musically Every artist in the world actually spends a lifetime hoping he will find “a style.” That is a style. A musical style. If you’re lucky enough to find one, it means you are instantly recognizable to the listener. Byt he way, the case was, I believe, really clear when Fantasy’s musical expert played a computerized version of each song with a series of beeps coming out of the speaker. He explained that if the songs were the same, you would only hear one note at the song. If you heard two beeps at the same time, the melodies weren’t the same. As we’ve now come to learn in our internet world where you click the button and there it goes, the man in the courtroom clicked the button. Three notes – same melody. Rest of the way was 2 beeps. I chuckled to myself cause the man had blown his own case. Proved the songs were not similar, but uniquely different. I didn’t argue the case in front of the Supreme Court. There was argued my right to get my attorneys fees back. Wasn’t built in uniquely in cases like this. The deck was really stacked against me and all songwriters. Fact that they made that ruling is very important for songwriters from now on. Vote was 11-0.

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