John Fogerty

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By Gary Graff  

The past year or so has been a homecoming for John Fogerty. Thanks to a change in ownership, he's back with Fantasy Records, where he began his recording career with Creedence Clearwater Revival. Reunited with his music catalog, he released a retrospective package appropriately titled The Long Road Home and the career-spanning DVD, The Long Road Home: In Concert, recorded live at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles. And now that he is home, Fogerty says the road ahead looks even brighter.

Q: The return to Fantasy seems to have been very rewarding for you.

John Fogerty: Oh yeah, it's great. It's simple respect. They treat me with respect and they treat the music with respect, which is a far cry, I must say, from the way that company and the old owners were for almost forty years. That was such a horrible situation. But now, to have people actually love the music and want to present it in the best way they can, and to treat it in a very reverential way, I'm just on top of the world as far as that goes.

Q: You're a guy from California. Where does that swampy, Southern kind of sound you're known for come from?

Fogerty: That whole vision kind of came out of my imagination. It took me almost twenty years to answer that question, really. After "Proud Mary" came out, people kept asking, "Well, what's all this stuff about the South?" I never had been to the South as a child, so basically the man who wrote "Proud Mary" had never seen the Mississippi River. Then I went to the first Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, and all ten of the first group of people were from the South. I looked at that and went, "Yeah, that's the answer," 'cause everybody that I loved and was first taken aback by in rock 'n' roll was from the South, and I think that was such a strong influence in my life, and especially my musical life. That and actors. I was very taken with a movie with Walter Brennan and Dana Andrews called Sawmp Fever. That made a mark on me, too.

Q: Now that you've patched things up with Fantasy, is there any chance you'll do the same with your former Creedence bandmates (Stu Cook and Doug Clifford)?

Fogerty: I seriously doubt it. I think the most you'll see from me is probably speaking of good times from the Creedence days in perhaps a more cherished manner. Those guys did a couple of, let's say, last straws that really ruined it for all time and just put me in an untenable position. I guess if I was playing in Sydney and they were playing in Stockholm, we could play together that way (laughs) -- One night only, all over the world! You gotta catch it!

Q: What kind of perspective do you have on your body of work and the way it's endured over the years?

Fogerty: If you're the person, the guy who wrote those songs, I don't think you can ever understand that. When I think about Bob Dylan, I always go, "Oh, man, what a catalog. What a great repertoire of songs." The same with the Beatles or the Stones or Bruce (Springsteen) and his songwriting. But I don't think of myself that way. You're too close to it.

Q: Ever been at a party -- a wedding or a bar mitzvah -- when the band cranked up "Proud Mary?"

Fogerty: (laughs) Oh, all the time. Actually, when I married my wife Julie back in '91, I got up and played "Proud Mary" kind of tongue in cheek. I basically said, "Well, everybody else plays this at their wedding, so by golly I'm gonna play it at my wedding!" I've certainly heard my music in some unusual circumstances. I remember being in a bar in British Columbia on a moose hunting trip, probably thirty years ago, basically at the top of the world, and the band started playing "Proud Mary". That was pretty strange!

Gary Graff writes extensively about music. His work has appeared widely in such publications as The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Detroit Free Press, and Billboard.