There are rockers, and there are rock ‘n’ rollers. John Fogerty is one of the few major musicians who can claim to be both, bridging the guitar-driven, band-based rock of the late ‘60s and ‘70s with the R&B and country-rooted rock and roll—think Little Richard and Elvis—of the ‘50s into the ‘60s.
Fogerty celebrates the agelessness of both—and his own inability to age. Sure, by 2008, when John Fogerty: Live at Soundstage, was performed and recorded, he was 63 and showing a few wrinkles.
Very few, actually, which is amazing, considering what he’d gone through, with his estrangement from the rest of Creedence Clearwater Revival and from his original record label, attended by exhausting lawsuits.
To watch Soundstage, you wouldn’t know that he’d ever had any problems. He had a new album (Revival) out, including a composition called “Creedence Song” and a couple of angry anti-war (and George W. Bush) tunes. He and a crack band sprinkled the new songs into the concert, but filled the setlist with CCR classics, including “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” and “Travelin’ Band.” (Note: Fogerty’s concert, as you might have noticed, is in two parts. Hits in the second volume include “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Fortunate Son,” “Green River,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” and the baseball classic, “Centerfield.”)
Not that Fogerty needed to sugarcoat his new songs. “Don’t You Wish It Was True” (a wistful vision of a more peaceful world), “Long Dark Night” (a critique of Bush’s handling of the aftermath of Katrina) and “I Can’t Take It” (his anti-war attack on Bush, echoing “Fortunate Son”) gave proof to Fogerty’s continuing power and passion as a songwriter.
And singer, too. Unlike so many vocalists of his generation, he sings at full throttle and at the original keys of his hit songs,” and executes falsetto catches with perfection. He bounces around the stage, matching his sizzling guitar up with the bassist for one song; with the riveting drummer, Kenny Aronoff, on many others. He invites the crowd to help him out on “Midnight Special” and “Proud Mary.”
Fogerty just issued a new album, Wrote a Song for Everyone, and has been out promoting it everywhere. He sounds as powerful as ever. His brand of rock—and rock ‘n’ roll—will never die.