In A Tune for Everybody, John Lingan chronicles what’s been referred to as “the saddest story in rock and roll,” following Creedence from their college days, to their meteoric rise within the late Nineteen Sixties, to their acrimonious break up within the early ’70s. The e-book, nevertheless, is generally superfluous after the 2015 launch of frontman John Fogerty’s memoir Lucky Son, which recounted the whole lot a fan or fellow songwriter would need to know. What’s worse, as is widespread amongst biographers at this time, Lingan spills a lot ink moralizing. He measures Creedence’s success by its political results, judging the band towards at present trendy beliefs concerning the atmosphere, intercourse, and race. What begins as historic context ends in a sort of reproach. The music occurs within the margins.
Lingan breathlessly recounts how the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act handed Congress in 1968, the identical yr CCR occurred to file “Inexperienced River.” He reproduces the feminist author Ellen Willis’s pablum about abortion rights the next yr, then notes how the band launched “Dangerous Moon Rising.” Whereas Creedence needed you to hear echoes of black artists like Little Richard of their work, Lingan needs you to know: The band stole that sound. He speaks of them being “awkwardly in thrall to Black tradition” alongside different white musicians who would “applicable” black artwork, citing composer Steve Reich’s early success “It’s Gonna Rain.” And as for the breakup, John Fogerty was cussed, terribly cussed, and couldn’t share duty along with his brother or associates—by no means thoughts their lesser talent.
Telling the story on this manner not solely drains the band of its artistry, it deflates the private drama. It avoids the true purpose the gamers stop: resentment.
Starting the e-book with the band’s 1970 live performance at Royal Albert Corridor, Lingan places himself firmly on one aspect of that break up. (He didn’t interview John Fogerty, talking as a substitute with Clifford and Prepare dinner. Tom Fogerty died in 1990.) Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Eric Clapton had been apparently within the viewers, however earlier within the tour Fogerty had informed the band they might now not carry out encores. Lingan locations the reader backstage, listening to the chants of these in attendance and seeing Fogerty unmoved whereas his bandmates plead to return out. To Lingan, the episode reveals the tight leash Fogerty saved everybody on: He wrote all of the songs, produced all of the data, and recorded all of the background vocals as a result of he believed his bandmates couldn’t sing. Now, he was snubbing his idols. And he didn’t appear to care.
Besides Fogerty did care—concerning the music. He often belittled his bandmates of their studio (fittingly named the Manufacturing facility), however his information actually dwarfed theirs. He was exacting. When recording their cowl of the Lead Stomach track “Cotton Fields,” Fogerty turned so upset with Clifford not having the ability to maintain time on the drums that he kicked everybody out of the studio. He proceeded to chop out all of the late beats from the tape recording, then drove to the drummer’s home in a rage and threw the snippets in his face. Fogerty relates the episode in his memoir, saying he can nonetheless hear the drums are gradual on the ultimate monitor. Lingan doesn’t point out it.
The remainder of the band knew they had been driving on coattails. Fogerty’s high quality management and businesslike method to crafting hit singles yielded three platinum albums in a single yr. And since their songs weren’t overdetermined by political occasions, they loved a broad fanbase: a “outstanding vary of highschool college students, truck stoppers, heads, and miscellaneous,” as Village Voice critic Robert Christgau wrote. Bob Dylan and Elvis each picked “Proud Mary” as their favourite track of 1969. Even Joplin stumbles in halfway by means of the e-book. “I really like y’all,” she sputters, useless drunk. “You’re by no means taking part in that silly psychedelic shit.” Hippies preferred Creedence, however troopers beloved them. One squadron in Vietnam blared their music into the jungles at night time once they launched assaults on Charlie, Fogerty shares in his memoir. “I’m not making an attempt to polarize hippies towards their mother and father,” Fogerty mentioned. Music “ought to unite, as corny as that’s. You understand everybody ought to have the ability to sit and faucet their foot, or say, ‘Wow! That’s the suitable factor!’”
Creedence fed off the youthful vitality of the counterculture, however they had been by no means a protest band. It’s unusual, then, that Lingan describes their hottest track, “Lucky Son,” as a “turning away from middle-class values, whether or not leaving job or decrying the navy.” In different passages, he contradicts this studying. Not like their rock ’n’ roll friends, all 4 males had been married by the point the band hit paydirt within the late ’60s. Fogerty even took to points of navy life when he served within the Military Reserves. Throughout an interview with a left-wing journal, he frightened brazenly concerning the lack of “gender variations” within the workforce between women and men, admitted that he was “a capitalist too,” and spoke of songwriting as an expression of “what I see from the center.”
As he writes concerning the breakup, Lingan reveals the bandmates’ jealousy towards their frontman. Issues started to disintegrate when Tom made an influence seize. He pushed for a paperback author to profile the group. The embarrassing product, plagued by garish descriptions, solely additional undermined Tom’s position, presenting him because the older brother of a much more gifted sibling. The belief stung. “Even in his personal self-importance undertaking,” Lingan writes, “Tom’s worth was being referred to as into query.” Months later, he tried one other “lavish publicity stunt”: a journalist’s junket that made Clifford and Prepare dinner look equally foolish, in response to Lingan. After their next-to-last album Pendulum broke, Tom exited the band.
Within the a long time since their final album, the business failure Mardi Gras, Clifford and Prepare dinner have claimed Fogerty set them up for a fall. He had them write their very own music with none assist. Lingan leans into this account: “He might pull a rug out when it suited him. He might throw up new rules that didn’t make the band higher, didn’t make him higher, simply modified the principles of the sport.” However Fogerty remembers issues in another way. He was exhausted, having been pressured by the label’s contract to provide you with an unimaginable variety of songs. In his memoir, he writes the pair solely found how unhealthy their songs had been on tour. The crowds discovered these songs laughable. When the band returned residence, they parted for good.
For Lingan, Creedence failed as a result of Fogerty could not collaborate. His e-book is a sort of riposte to Lucky Son, which blamed the opposite bandmates for his or her egotism. The reader could take one additional lesson: Even artists study their limits.
A Tune for Everybody: The Story of Creedence Clearwater Revival
by John Lingan
Hachette Books, 384 pp., $32