Throwback Tune-Creedence Clearwater Revival-Proud Mary

Do you ever wake up in the morning with an old song in your head? I know I do, and I often wonder if I dream with a musical score. Well, this classic song seems to come up every once in a while and thought I would pick it as this week’s Thursday throwback tune. Creedance Clearwater Revival‘s song “Proud Mary” from one of the top essential  albums in rock and roll Bayou Country, continues to stand the test of time.

Everyone needs some Creedance Clearwater Revival in their life. The members were John Fogerty, Tom Fogerty , Stu Cook, and Doug Clifford and their musical style encompassed roots rock, swamp rock, and blues rock.


John Fogerty and his brother Tom, both singer-guitarists, joined forces in 1959 with bassist Cook and drummer Clifford, their junior-high-school classmates for the band, The Blue Velvets. They were later called The Golliwogs in 1964.

The name Creedence Clearwater Revival means nothing as a phrase. The word ‘Creedence’ referred to someone called Credence Newball, who was a friend of Tom Fogerty. ‘Clearwater’ came from a TV commercial for Olympia Beer. And ‘Revival’ was a nod to the fact that the band returned in 1967 after a three year hiatus, due to the military commitments. They almost settled for the name Creedence Nuball And The Ruby, but fortunately they chose Creedance Clearwater Revival, also known as Creedance, or CCR.

As CCR, all of their hit singles in the USA peaked at number two and never made it to the number one position. But the band has sold 26 million albums in the United States alone.

They were the most successful in the late 60’s to the early 70’s, and they actually performed at Woodstock (at 3am) following the Grateful Dead. After their breakup, they played together at a high school reunion and at Tom’s wedding, but unfortunately they haven’t ever played a reunion gig. This is mainly due to Tom’s death from tuberculosis (a complication after he contracted HIV during an unscreened blood transfusion for back surgery) and the ongoing internal struggle of John’s control.

CCR were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1993, John Fogerty refused to play onstage with Cook and Clifford. Instead, he fronted an all star band featuring, among others, Bruce Springsteen.

John Fogerty sang with raw, grainy emotion and drew inspiration from Southern rock and roll and blues. His songwriting and lyrical imagery of the common man, and descriptive visual scenes led to a spark of listener understanding and connection. “Proud Mary” a mythic journey down the Mississippi River of Fogerty’s imagination, was an instant hit.

The song came together on the day that John Fogerty got his discharge papers from the US Army. Fogerty had been drafted in 1966 and was part of a Reserve unit. His discharge papers came in 1967. Fogerty recalls in Bad Moon Rising: The Unofficial History of Creedence Clearwater Revival by Hank Bordowitz:

“The Army and Creedence overlapped, so I was ‘that hippie with a record on the radio.’ I’d been trying to get out of the Army, and on the steps of my apartment house sat a diploma-sized letter from the government. It sat there for a couple of days, right next to my door. One day, I saw the envelope and bent down to look at it, noticing it said ‘John Fogerty.’ I went into the house, opened the thing up, and saw that it was my honorable discharge from the Army. I was finally out! This was 1968 and people were still dying. I was so happy, I ran out into my little patch of lawn and turned cartwheels. Then I went into my house, picked up my guitar and started strumming. ‘Left a good job in the city’ and then several good lines came out of me immediately. I had the chord changes, the minor chord where it says, ‘Big wheel keep on turnin’/Proud Mary keep on burnin” (or ‘boinin’,’ using my funky pronunciation I got from Howling’ Wolf). By the time I hit ‘Rolling, rolling, rolling on the river,’ I knew I had written my best song. It vibrated inside me. When we rehearsed it, I felt like Cole Porter.”

So the American classic, “Proud Mary” was created out of a wildly tumultuous time in our nation’s history. Interestingly, Fogerty had never been east of the Mississippi River until after the song was recorded and he made a point of visiting Memphis.

CCR has a large discography of familiar hit songs. Proud Mary proved to be the beginning of their incredible success. Do you have a CCR favorite?


For me, I can’t stop humming and singing…”Rollin on the river…” If you are a fan, I bet you know all the words!

Creedence Clearwater Revival-Proud Mary

“Left a good job in the city
Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day
And I never lost one minute of sleepin’
Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been
Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis
Pumped a lot of pane down in New Orleans
But I never saw the good side of the city
‘Til I hitched a ride on a river boat queen
Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
If you come down to the river
Bet you gonna find some people who live
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have [if you got] no money
People on the river are happy to give
Big wheel keep on turnin’
Proud Mary keep on burnin’
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river”

Oh, and I love the CCR language take on one of the comments below the video, by Alex Canton…

How to properly sing any CCR song:
Turning = Toynin’
Burning = Boynin’
Working = Woykin’
I heard = I hoyd
Moving forward in motion = CHOOGLIN’
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