Written by El Conquistadorko
Back in the 1960s, John Fogerty and his band Creedence Clearwater Revival churned out an incredible series of swampy blues and folk songs so convincingly rootsy that a lot of people still think the band hailed from somewhere in the deep south. Of course, the band was actually part of San Francisco’s psychedelic rock movement and none of its members had even been south of the Mason Dixon Line when they got famous. But what made Creedence truly genius was John Fogerty’s epic lyrics. In anthems like “Effigy,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Fortunate Son,” and “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” — Fogerty captured the turbulence sweeping America without once singing the words “Vietnam,” “Richard Nixon,” or “flower power.”
Oh what a difference four decades makes. Now, 40 years after the Summer of Love, Fogerty has released his best solo album to date, a straight-forward collection of electric blues and rockabilly-inspired tunes that sounds a lot like Creedence in its heyday. A lot of Revival sounds like pure nostalgia. “Lookin’ out across this town/ kinda makes me wonder how/ all the things that made us great/ got left so far behind,” Fogerty sings in “Gunslinger.” A few songs later, in a song called — groan — “Summer of Love,” Fogerty seems to be trying to say something important about the decade that shook the world, but it’s not clear what. “It was the Summer of Love/ so many people on the move/ flower children lookin’ for the truth/ will they find it or just excuse.”
Huh? Just excuse what? Fogerty never really explains, and instead moves on to more current events in songs like “Long Dark Night.” “Georgie’s in the jungle/ knockin’ on the door/ come to get your children/ wants to have a war.” The rest of the song references Hurricane Katrina — “Brownie’s in the outhouse/ Katrina’s on the line/ Gulf is a disaster/ but Georgie says its fine” — and rips on Bush’s cabinet — “Rummie’s in the kitchen/ messin’ with the pans/ Dickie’s in the back/ stealin’ everything he can.”
Things don’t get a whole lot better on “I Can’t Take it No More,” the album’s closing track. “You know you lied about the casualties/ you know you lied about the WMDs/ you know you lied about the detainees/ all over this world,” Fogerty wails. “Your daddy wrote a check and there you are/ another Fortunate Son.”
It’s hard to disagree with Fogerty’s politics and the music’s pretty damn good, but what America needs now are artists like Fogerty was 40 years ago, folks who can write a good tune and come up with lyrics that reflect the crazy shit that’s happening today, instead of trying to be cute and sounding like an intern at MoveOn.org.
The closest he comes to doing this is on “Don’t You Wish it Was True,” the album’s first song. “I dreamed I walked in Heaven/ just the other night/ there was so much beauty/ so much light/ don’t you wish it was true.” Yes, we do. We just wish the rest of Revival was more like this, and less like John Fogerty trying so hard to be like John Fogerty.