With Creedence, the songs remain powerful

Published on October 15th, 2018

By Jim Dail

Photo by Jeff Dow

When a band has nine Top Ten hits, including 5 that hit the Number 2 spot, and 5 Top Ten albums, with two topping the chart, there’s a good bet that people know the music.

“We’ve done a lot of shows in Mexico and it is a pretty young crowd, but they know the songs,” said Creedence Clearwater Revisited drummer Doug Clifford.

They will perform Friday at the Pechanga Showroom.

Certainly the band has quite the history. It is, of course, the modern version of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Formed by Clifford, Stu Cook, Tom and John Fogerty, Creedence Clearwater Revival piled up the hits, such as “Proud Mary,” “Down On The Corner,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Fortunate Son.” In some ways, the band was a recording machine.

“We had four years, seven studio albums and live albums, rehearsed like crazy and did the records exactly as we went to,” he said.

And the music is certainly a powerful legacy.

“It’s a combination of things,” Clifford said. “Personally, the songs we would do we did a lot of jamming to gather new material.”

Part of that was, of course, the drumming of Clifford.

“On first appearances, a lot of the beats I’d do make sense, but as the song progressed I might change them sometimes,” he said.

Most of the time the songs were ready to be recorded by the time they got in the studio.

“Rarely, it wouldn’t be finished but we always had a feeling and that’s what John wanted to do for the song,” he said. “But it was more maybe ‘Green River’ might be a shuffle. Or the songs might be an up-tempo rock song. We worked that out.”

Often, Clifford was just wanting to lay down a groove that might be different but worked within the parameters of the song.

“For example, for ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain,’ I put the snare drum in the verse to make it different, to give it more spice,” he said. “So there I put two breaks that separated it from a typical song. That tempo just gave it something unique. I think that is part of what made a difference.”

“Well, a rear view mirror works when you parallel park, but I am happy with the way things turned out musically,” he said. “Going back and wishing serves no purpose at all.”

In the beginning, some of the experimenting was out of necessity.

“When you look at a song like ‘Susie Q,’ the original was more of an 8-note rockabilly song that we did back in the club 6 days a week,” he said. “Material was so important that there was a concern about running out of material. So for that one I came up with quarter note on a cymbal and it was still 4 eighth notes in between. It’s a different count and it really opened it up for the guitar. That meant we couple play the song longer!”

That meant more dancing and that was perfect.

“It became a dance favorite because they wanted you to play so people could dance and get hot and drink beer,” he said.

In some cases, there was little toying with the song.

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain” was likely a completed song and it was done in a way there was no room for experimentation,” he said.

In other cases, there was a difference in opinion.

“Sometimes there were disagreements, of course, like with the pattern for ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain,’” he said. “I knew I was right and it helped it was song about politics though John says it’s more about Woodstock. I did single stroke notes on that.”

Perhaps a strong element to their success was that the music could be straight rock, rhythm & blues or country.

“Bad Moon Rising” was a typical Texas two-step, a flat out country pattern,” he said. “That’s real country music, like Buck Owens and Hank Williams. Stuff today is more pop but back then it was definitely something different.”

Songs like “Fortunate Son” and “Up around the Bend” have become pretty synonymous with Vietnam period films.

“It was good theme music, a themed music for a soundtrack of life,” he said. “That’s why they are in a lot of films. We weren’t trying to make a soundtrack song. It was just the subject matter. We did pretty much run the gamut with our music.”

Even perhaps their most noted song, “Proud Mary,” was not expected to be the big one, especially given that it was the B-side of the “Born On The Bayou” single.

“We absolutely did not think that was the big hit,” he said. “The song pickers had these sheets and charts of what they thought would be a hit. They would then fill their sheets. We’d had a cover song, ‘I Put a Spell on You,’ and we knew we needed an original. It got flipped over by the same guy who picked ‘Susie Q.’ Turned out he had the right record. He just had to turn it over.”

IF YOU GO

When: 8 p.m. Friday, October 19

Where: Pechanga Resort and Casino, 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula

Admission: $69-$79

Information: https://www.pechanga.com/entertain/creedence-clearwater-revisited

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