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.