One of the questions former Creedence Clearwater Revival singer and songwriter John Fogerty has had to respond to regularly throughout his life is “How did a kid from the Bay Area wind up sounding like he came straight out of the bayous of Louisiana?”
It’s easy, he typically responds. “All the great music I loved as a kid came out of the south.” That was obvious in the swampy sound that ushered Creedence onto the pop charts in 1968 with their drawling version of Dale Hawkins’ ’50s rock hit “Suzie Q.” And it was a signature of their original tunes, which yielded a remarkable string of hits for the next three years, many of them emerging as classics of the rock era: “Proud Mary,” “Fortunate Son,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Green River,” “Down on the Corner” and several more.
Those records were built around Fogerty’s gravelly high tenor voice and an inspired blend of twangy electric guitars, relentlessly driving bass and drums and lyrics that evoked Fogerty’s mythologized view of life in the American south. He also brought stinging social commentary into the band’s songs.
He hit a wall, however, after Creedence disbanded in 1972, fighting with his record company over control of his music, a battle he later acknowledged sapped much of his creative energy. He put out a critically lauded solo album in 1973 under the name Blue Ridge Rangers, a roots-country collection for which he played all the instruments himself. Then after his first bona fide solo album “John Fogerty,” in 1975, he disappeared for a decade, until he famously declared “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play!” in the 1985 hit single and album “Centerfield,” a stirring return to form.
Fogerty has continued to mine the rich wellspring of American roots music in the recordings he’s made in the ensuing 25 years, although it has only been in the last dozen years that he has made new music with any regularity. His latest, “The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again,” revisited the traditional country songbook he explored back in 1973, but this time he did so with a band of fellow country and bluegrass players. In his 60s, he has become a road warrior once again, often with his two sons as members of his touring band.