Craft Recordings proudly announces the 50th anniversary of America’s greatest rock band, Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was in the summertime half a century ago that CCR, a group that would reach sky-high success while retaining a resolutely rootsy, earthbound sound, released their debut album. This marked the beginning of an incredible legacy that was formed over just four years of unbridled creative output (1968-1972).
CCR's canon has become a staple in the Great American Songbook. Songs like "Bad Moon Rising," "Down on the Corner," "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," "Proud Mary," and "Up Around the Bend" have been ingrained into the pop-cultural consciousness—not just as classic rock staples, but as American standards.
As the United States speeds towards another anniversary of its own on 4th July, Craft is kicking off the CCR50 campaign by releasing an official music video (the first ever) for one of the band’s most enduring classics, “Fortunate Son,” a song as vital now as ever.
Beyond its anti-war sentiment, "Fortunate Son" is an anthem for the 99%ers, condensing a critique of elitism and class privilege into three simple, but powerfully defiant words: It Ain’t Me. Craft partnered with director Ben Fee (Band of Horses, The War on Drugs, The Lumineers, Aesop Rock) to give a whole new generation a visual entry point into the world of Creedence.
The song already has an undeniable place in history as one of the most visceral, attention-grabbing protest tunes of the Vietnam era. With the new video, Fee extends the reach of "Fortunate Son" even further. "For me, protest right now is just showing pure positivity in the face of division and anger." Says Fee, “I wanted to highlight the community and positivity that everybody shares…I wanted to show what America feels like when you actually hit the road and drive throughout the states."
Though the Vietnam war is decades away in the rearview mirror, the people CCR were speaking for in the song are still the heart and soul of America, and they're still the underdog, facing a whole new set of challenges. So, Fee turned the video into a celebration of their indomitable spirit, giving viewers a glimpse of the broad array of characters comprising the patchwork that is our country at its core.
In spotlighting the diversity and unconquerable spirit of America's so-called 99%, Fee created a concept as relevant to today's world as it is to the original 1969 setting of "Fortunate Son." "I met so many beautiful people," says Fee of the folks he shot for the video. "I went to the Taos Pueblo people, into their land, and met with the war chief, and they were very big fans of CCR. They were so welcoming because they knew the song and the band, and they really loved the idea of protest through positivity."
Fee’s video road trip took him across the country, from Los Angeles to Miami and all points in between. The footage captures people across America of diverse ages, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and locations (including Florida, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, California, Washington and Hawaii) to document the true spirit that makes up the fabric of the United States, for which CCR have been the soundtrack for 50 years.
In addition to the video, the half-century celebration will continue in the coming months to fill out the CCR story even further. Craft will be honouring the band’s musical legacy via a diverse array of media, products and events; including a special release coming this autumn. The fête will also provide fans with new ways to engage with CCR online–sharing their memories, streaming new content, and diving deeper into the band’s legendary history. Stay tuned to CCR50.com for more details, coming soon.
In the meantime, you can dig in to more from the Creedence Clearwater Revival catalogue (and build your 4th July playlists) via Apple Music (click here for the Essentials) or Spotify (click here for This Is).
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1968 self-titled debut album introduced the world to guitar-playing brothers John and Tom Fogerty, drummer Doug Clifford, and bassist Stu Cook, four young men out of El Cerrito in the San Francisco Bay Area. Though they emerged in a place and time where trippy psychedelic visions were the order of the day, CCR bucked the trends and instead tapped into a rich, traditional seam of American music that connected to blues, country, rockabilly, gospel, folk and R&B.
While their contemporaries were unfurling mind-bending musical excursions with elaborate productions, Creedence crashed into the upper rungs of the album and singles charts with songs that wasted nary a note or word, overflowing with raw soul and unbridled energy. Although the band members were only together for four years under the Creedence Clearwater Revival appellation, they managed to accomplish more than many artists do in their entire career – they released 14 Top 10 hits, six Platinum albums, and one Gold in just four intensely prolific years, all powered by John Fogerty's gut-level growl, with Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford providing just the right kind of gritty, in-the-pocket punch to propel CCR's vision.
The band's West Coast origins notwithstanding, Fogerty's voice contained echoes of everything from the Chicago blues bite of Howlin' Wolf to the Alabama twang of Hank Williams and the Memphis swagger of Elvis Presley, creating an archetypal example of Americana decades before anybody ever thought of using that term to define a musical genre.
For all the indelible guitar hooks and commanding vocals the CCR catalogue contains, their songs are more than catchy tunes. CCR was a people's band in more ways than one; hand in hand with the accessibility that made their music relatable to just about everybody, there was a strong sense of identification with America's common folks, the ones whose stories were told in the songs.
On tunes like "Born on the Bayou" and "Green River," Creedence harnessed the sonic hoodoo of almost dangerously deep, “swamp rock” grooves to propel vivid New Orleans imagery. "Long As I Can See the Light" floats luminously with the kind of sanctified soul feel that we've come to expect only from the South. And the spry country two-step of "Lookin' Out My Back Door" finds its feet in Nashville, at least in a spiritual sense. While CCR's signature song, "Proud Mary," is a Southern-soaked riverboat travelogue, with stops in Memphis and the Crescent City.
Even some of the covers of Creedence's tunes have become part of history—Ike & Tina Turner's sped-up, R&B-slathered 1971 recording of "Proud Mary" almost rivaled the original in popularity. And an astonishing array of artists, from Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson to R.E.M. and the Ramones, have recorded "Have You Ever Seen the Rain," to home in on the reach of just one of their profusely covered songs.
The group also performed a historic headlining set at Woodstock, and toured the world before disbanding in 1972. CCR's music endures today – still in popular rotation on the radio, and heard regularly in films and TV shows. Having sold over 30 million albums in the U.S. alone, Creedence received a rare Diamond certification from the RIAA in 2016, marking 10 million units in sales for their 1976 compilation album, Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits.
The appeal of Creedence Clearwater Revival isn't tied to any one era or milieu; whether it's 50 years ago or 100 years from now, all you need is a pair of ears to pick up on their sound. As John Fogerty once sang on a certain 1969 hit single, "Over on the corner there's a happy noise/People come from all around to watch the magic boys."