When I hear the opening licks of “Proud Mary”, I can guarantee that I’m not thinking about Saabs, microbrews or guys named Milo or August.
I’m thinking about America, people. It’s all about having a game of catch with Dad, about applauding veterans as they march past me in the 4th of July Parade, about having a steak hot off the grill…I’d go on and on, but I’m sure I’ve made my point. Yes, my favorite American rock n’ roll group is staunchly American—duh—but I can go one step further.
Creedence also evokes a sense of community, a warm feeling that I’m on everybody’s side. It makes perfect sense, after all, because…well, who doesn’t like (if not love) CCR? I can say that with confidence, but not total confidence. Let me discuss.
Creedence can be called a lot of things. Calling them anything less than legendary is a crime. Having produced three platinum albums in the same year (Bayou Country, Green River and Willy and the Poor Boys) the adjective I’d use to best describe CCR is reliable. But how about unique or even original? Certainly, that’s debatable, but even if they weren’t out of the ordinary, why should that steer anyone away from listening to “Lodi”? Isn’t being great good enough anymore?
From movies that end with “fin” to the emo kids that flunk high school gym class, being unique (or at least the desire and emphasis to be) is all around us. In fact, if you watched TV today, you were probably told to how to buy extraordinary. See for yourself:
Break Apple’s famous commercial down and you’ll figure out why being unique is so appealing. The protagonist (who did the wise thing and obviously bought an Apple) is colorful and the most confident person to ever run with a sledgehammer, perfect as a person can’t be. Everybody is better off now that she’s showed up. She’s freedom, the uncola, literally there to smash the face of oppression. She’s special alright.
Of course, being special isn’t a bad thing entirely. I shouldn’t have to explain why, but I will. With unique people—but more importantly, with unique thought and action—you get innovation; you get new. And that’s where I want to go back to CCR. No, they weren’t “new” in the sense that they were doing something groundbreaking or mind-expanding. In fact, you could say that they were little more than a tribute band for acts like Screaming Jay Hawkins or anyone who got their start at Sun Records…but they were a GREAT tribute band, probably the best in history.
But that apparently wasn’t good enough. Ironically, CCR began like most bands finished and ended the way most start. Most bands—especially in the late 60’s/ early 70’s—- become unforgettably fascinating after they find their own unique sound (cough, Sergeant Pepper, cough, cough). When Creedence tried to do the same, especially on their final album Mardi Gras, they became forgettable. As Jon Landau said in Rolling Stone, it was “the worst album I have ever heard from a major rock band.”
Still, every other album on Revival’s discography besides Mardi Gras (which still managed to go gold) went platinum. They did this by not wearing this (sigh…or this or this), but by loving what they do and doing what they love —and by wearing flannels.CCR didn’t need sparkles for people to listen.
Clearly, there’s something worth loving there, and yes, it’s definitely something simple, something pure. Maybe loving Creedence as much as I do makes me a boring person, but if that’s the case, then I’m emphatically bland. So let’s take a Chevy out for a spin, maybe even stop off and have a Budweiser.