You've probably heard your grandparents, or even your parents listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR)… but do you know their political and military history?
With the recent release of the Netflix documentary "Creedence Clearwater Revival (Travelin’ Band) Live at the Royal Albert Hall 1970," I was inspired to write about the band's brave and historical stance on the war that plagued the nation. And that begins in El Cerrito, California in the late 1950s, when the band started out with members Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, Doug Clifford, and later, Tom’s brother, John Fogerty.
Most people don’t realize the political impact the band had on the military. Between their first attempts at forming a band, over half of the members were drafted. With John Fogerty in the Army Reserve and Doug Clifford serving in the Coast Guard Reserve, the band took a halting stop until the young men had returned. They then formed the band we now know as Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Yet, CCR wasn’t their first shot at a band; first came The Blue Velvets, followed by two other attempts at forming a band. It wasn’t until the late nineteen sixties that they truly took off. A cover of "Suzie Q," originally sung by Dale Hawkins, took the music scene by storm. It was their first successful single, and with John Fogerty’s unique voice, they instantly became adored. Their self-titled album did very well, followed by the albums Bayou Country, Green River, and Willy and the Poor Boys.
With three more albums after that, the band flourished. Playing venues, shows like the Ed Sullivan Show, and even Woodstock 69’; however, some of their most successful songs were based on the time that John and Doug spent serving our country. Songs such as "Fortunate Son" gave us a side of anti-war propaganda that many needed. John Fogerty’s experience in the armed forces wasn’t exactly the best time of his life, which began the band's anti-draft and anti-war stance.
The draft was a difficult thing for families everywhere, and "Fortunate Son" portrayed the unreasonable side of the silver spoon because they weren’t senators' sons, as most weren’t. The song was sung from the perspective of the poor youth of the Vietnam war. The draft was avoidable for those from affluent backgrounds. Leaving people like John Fogerty pushed into traumatizing experiences purely based on class. Vietnam was obviously unsafe and unruly, and it was truly unfair that the young men of the sixties did not have a choice to defend their country. It was chosen for them.
Creedence Clearwater Revival took those emotions of pain and trauma and turned them into classics that we know and love today, but this wasn’t their only military-based song. They had several based on the time served by the members, such as "Bad Moon Rising," "Proud Mary," "Green River," and "Down on The Corner," which were all associated with Vietnam. These songs became instant classics and prospered.
Most milteens don’t know the significant political history of this band - it’s truly a tale for the ages. In my opinion, the members aren’t that different from us. The military can be harsh, disappointing, and downright sad. CCR portrayed those feelings excellently, almost like a political military time capsule to the tune of the struggles of the generations before us as well as our own.
This article is in honor of my loving grandparents, whose favorite band just so happens to be this one.