Creedence Clearwater Revival is #2

Tommy Roe, Henry Mancini

Stu, John, Doug, Tom

An old friend, and music professional, noted that when an artist’s song stalls at #2, they take a certain amount of grief. I replied, “Unless they’re Creedence Clearwater Revival. They had 5 or 6 #2 songs but never had a #1.”

My friend laughed because she knows well it’s just the kind of arcane knowledge stuck somewhere in my brain, just waiting to bubble up.

Here are the CCR songs that went to #2 on the Billboard pop charts, and the songs that kept them from the top slot.

Proud Mary 
First charted on January 25, 1969
Hit #2 on March 1, 1969
Kept out of the #1 slot: first by Everyday People – Sly and the Family Stone in their fourth and final week at the top
THEN, on March 8 and 15, CCR was still #2, kept out of the top by Dizzy – Tommy Roe for two weeks in a row

Bad Moon Rising 
First charted on May 3, 1969
Hit #2 on June 28, 1969
Kept out of the #1 slot by Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet – Henry Mancini

Green River 
First charted August 2, 1969
Hit #2 on September 27, 1969
Kept out of the #1 slot by Sugar Sugar – The Archies
The Archies spent 4 weeks at #1, blocking CCR in the song’s second week, and Jean – Oliver in weeks 3 and 4.

Double-sided hit

Travelin’ BandWho Will Stop The Rain 
First charted January 31, 1970
Hit #2 on March 7, 1970, and again on March 14, 1970.
Kept out of the #1 slot by Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel in its second and third weeks at the top. In the S/G week 4 reign, it stopped The Rapper – The Jaggerz from reaching #1. In weeks 5 and 6, it even temporarily blocked Let It Be – The Beatles, before the Fab’s single finally broke through

Lookin’ Out My Back Door 
First charted August 8, 1970
Hit #2 on October 3, 1970
Kept out of the #1 slot by Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Diana Ross, in her third and final week at the top.

There’s no shame in being blocked from the top slot by Paul and Artie or Diana or Sly. And The Archies were a commercial force, even if they were cartoon characters.

By the time we got to Woodstock

one of the greatest moments in popular music history

Woodstock posterThe Woodstock Music & Art Fair took place August 15 to August 18, 1969, on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York owned by Max Yasgur. Over 30 acts performed over the sometimes rainy weekend in front of at least 400,000 concertgoers.

I didn’t get to go to “one of the greatest moments in popular music history,” though I surely wanted to. However, my friends and I saw the movie that was released in March 1970, fairly early in its run. And then we watched the three-hour movie AGAIN, back when theater owners didn’t care if you did that.

The second time, I remember looking at the purple of the light projecting onto the screen as Sly and the Family Stone was performing. And I wasn’t even TAKING anything – really!

The soundtrack to the movie was released on May 1970. I surely bought the 3-LP set before the summer was out, and played it incessantly. A second album of two LPs came out the following year, a lesser collection.

Some artists did not appear on either set, because their record label wouldn’t allow it, or because they didn’t think they sounded good enough, or because the artist wanted an album of just their music.

In 1994, Woodstock: Three Days of Peace and Music a 4-CD set with additional tracks came out. In 2009, Woodstock 40 Years On: Back To Yasgur’s Farm, a 6-CD collection was released.

I thought I’d pick some artists not represented in the first two albums. This proved to be more difficult than I thought. I found three “complete” sets of one artist that ran from 30 to 75 minutes.

Day 1

Sweetwater – Look Out or Two Worlds
Bert Sommer – Jennifer
Tim Hardin – If I Were a Carpenter; more Tim
Ravi Shankar – Evening Raga

Day 2

Quill – Waiting For You
The Keef Hartley Band – Spanish Fly/ Think it Over/ Too Much Thinking/ I Believe in You; to my knowledge, the band has never been featured on any Woodstock recording, nor were they featured in the film.
The Incredible String Band – The Letter
Grateful Dead – part 1
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born on the Bayou/ I Put a Spell On You/ Keep on Chooglin’
Janis Joplin – Try/ Ball and Chain

Day 3

The Band – full set
Johnny Winter – full set
Blood, Sweat & Tears – full set

Oh, what the heck: two songs about Woodstock

The song – Joni Mitchell
Who’ll Stop the Rain – CCR; John Fogerty on the musical legacy of the concert

John Fogerty is 70

John-FogertyJust last year, I wrote a lengthy piece about Creedence Clearwater Revival, a fine band. In it, I mentioned the continuing strife between lead singer/songwriter John Fogerty and the other living members of the group, plus his brother’s widow. As of December 2014, the lawsuits continue.

So I’m just going to link to some solo John Fogerty for his birthday number three score and ten:

With the Blue Ridge Rangers: Jambalaya (On The Bayou), #16 in 1973. This was #1 country hit in 1952 for Hank Williams.

Rockin’ All Over The World, #27 in 1975.

Almost Saturday Night, #78 in 1975.

The Old Man Down The Road, #10 in 1985.

Rock And Roll Girls, #20 in 1985. Its B-side,
Centerfield, #44 in 1985, was
honored by the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010.

(All chart citations refer to the US Billboard pop listings.)
John Fogerty and Sawyer Fredericks on The Voice finale, May 2015, singing a CCR medley. BTW, Sawyer is the area kid who won the competition.

F is for the Fogerty brothers of CCR

CCR even appeared at Woodstock, though most people don’t remember that.

Stu, John, Doug, Tom

John Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and Stu Cook met in junior high school, and soon backed John’s older brother Tom on some gigs. Eventually, they became a band, with Doug on drums, Stu – formerly on piano – switching to bass, and Tom on rhythm guitar, as John became “the band’s lead vocalist and primary songwriter.” In Tom Fogerty’s words: ‘I could sing, but John had a sound!'” That he did.

The group had a hit with their second single, a cover of Susie Q [LISTEN], in 1968, but then received massive success in 1969 and 1970, with five #2 hits, including three in a row. Has any group ever done that while NEVER having a #1 single in the US? Don’t think so.

1969 [LISTEN to all]: Proud Mary (#2), Bad Moon Rising (#2), Green River (#2), Down on the Corner (#3). Plus three Top 10 albums.
1970 [LISTEN to all]: Travelin’ Band (#2), Up Around the Bend (#4), Lookin’ Out Through My Back Door (#2). And a #1 album.

They even appeared at Woodstock, though most people don’t remember that; I had forgotten myself. Their performance was “not included in the film or soundtrack because John Fogerty felt the band’s performance was subpar.” That was a reflection of tensions in the band.

John Fogerty had taken control of most aspects of the band’s direction, to the chagrin of the others, so Tom Fogerty decided to quit, and the band continued as a trio. John then wanted a more democratic process with Stu and Doug, but it was John’s sound that made the band and putting out an album with all of the band writing songs turned out to be a commercial and critical failure.

The band broke up in 1974, and the label put Chronicle, Volume 1, “a collection of Creedence’s twenty hit singles, in 1976,” a double-LP set. For all my affection for their sound, this was my first CCR album, though I did acquire a couple of the earlier albums later on. That greatest hits collection included the single version of the last hit, a cover of I Heard It Through the Grapevine [LISTEN], while the CD version of the album has the 11-minute rendition [LISTEN].

John performed as a solo artist but didn’t sing CCR songs for emotional reasons tied to the group’s terrible contract with Fantasy Records, by which he would have to pay performance royalties, for a decade and a half. He got sued for sounding too much like John Fogerty on a song he recorded for another label in the mid-1980s, which was eventually settled in his favor. But he never really settled his dispute with brother Tom who “died of an AIDS complication in September 1990, which he contracted via a tainted blood transfusion he received while undergoing back surgery.”

This is also sad: “In the 1980s and 90s, new rounds of lawsuits between the band members, as well as against their former management, deepened their animosities. By the time CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, John Fogerty refused to perform with Cook and Clifford. The pair were barred from the stage, while Fogerty played with an all-star band that included Bruce Springsteen and Robbie Robertson. Tom Fogerty’s widow Tricia had expected a Creedence reunion, and even brought the urn containing her husband’s ashes to the ceremony.”

Stu and Doug worked as session musicians and on other people’s albums before forming “Creedence Clearwater Revisited in 1995 with several well-known musicians. Revisited toured globally performing the original band’s classics. John Fogerty’s 1997 injunction forced Creedence Clearwater Revisited to temporarily change its name to ‘Cosmo’s Factory,’ but the courts later ruled in Cook’s and Clifford’s favor.”

The chance of a CCR reunion is remote. While John has recently suggested, after years of rejecting the idea, that it was theoretically possible, Stu and Doug don’t believe it will ever happen. But John’s solo career is thriving.

(I realize that quite a few of these family tales are less than happy. It DOES get better.)


ABC Wednesday – Round 14

Unread books, and rock song comparison

I’ve seen so many productions of Shakespeare’s comedies that I no longer remember which ones I’ve actually read.

The blogger MDS from Pantheon Songs – check out his sites if you like music – wants to know:

1) what are some of the books that you’ve wanted to read but never got around to reading because of whatever reason or circumstance?

So many…let me limit this list to books that are actually in my possession, and specifically in the office of the house, as opposed to the living room or the attic:

Personal History – Katharine Graham
The Brethren (re: Supreme Court) – Woodward and Armstrong
Wired – Bob Woodward
Crossfire (re: JFK) – Jim Marrs
Undaunted Courage – Stephen Ambrose
The World Is My Home – James Michener

As a member of the board of the Friends of the Albany Public library, I would buy a book from each of the authors. But I hadn’t read any of them until I read Wicked by Gregory Maguire last year. I’ll be reading some of them.

Then there is Shakespeare. I’ve seen so many productions of his comedies that I no longer remember which ones I’ve actually read, aside from The Merchant of Venice. I’ve read none of the histories or romances. I’ve read most of the tragedies, though not Titus Andronicus or Timon of Athens.

2) “Fortunate Son” or “The Weight”?

Interesting question. Never thought of Fortunate Son [listen] as more than an excellent song by a very good band, Creedence Clearwater Revival, though I agreed very much with its sentiment. The group had more number 2 hits on the US charts without having a number 1 hit than anyone, I believe. I never had any CCR albums until they broke up.

I owned The Band’s first four or five albums more or less when they came out, though I did get the second album (the brown album) before the first. The Weight [listen] was on their first album, Music from Big Pink; I’ve been by the actual pink house in Ulster County, NY. The song appears in the movie Easy Rider. For reasons of commerce, their version does not show up on the movie soundtrack, replaced by an iteration by a group called Smith [listen].

For my taste, the song was covered too often, and the song started to get on my nerves, though I like Aretha’s version [listen].

Time passes and I can appreciate The Weight for the great, no, anthemic, tune it is.

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