Originally published: January 27, 2014 3:18 PM
Updated: January 28, 2014 9:06 AM
By STEVE KNOPPER. Special to Newsday
Photo credit: Getty Images / Mark Davis | Musician John Fogerty performs at The Paramount in Huntington on Wednesday, 1/29 and Thursday, 1/30, at 8 p.m. (May 23, 2012)
Any story about John Fogerty must begin with some combination of the following song titles: "Proud Mary," "Fortunate Son," "Who’ll Stop the Rain," "Down on the Corner."
Thanks to bad business deals and litigation, the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman, 68, lost control of these ’60s classics for decades and refused to play them until recently. Last year, Fogerty collaborated on many of them for "Wrote a Song for Everyone," featuring Miranda Lambert, Foo Fighters, Bob Seger and others. Fogerty, who plays Wednesday night and Thursday at the Paramount in Huntington, took a break from writing his memoirs to talk by phone from his Los Angeles home.
In an ’80s MTV interview, you were asked for music-business advice. You said, "See a lawyer, then see another lawyer to look at that lawyer, then see another lawyer after that to see those two lawyers, and don’t sign nothin’ until your mom reads it." Still true?
Well, my mom is no longer with us, and you know what, now I probably wouldn’t burden her with that sort of thing, anyway. … I don’t react to the questions with the same emotional content that I used to. If your life is happy, you tend to not want to pick up a rock and throw it at somebody.
Can you be totally clear about something — do you have the right of refusal if a movie, TV show or commercial wants to license one of your songs?
All the older songs I wrote during the Creedence era are owned by Fantasy Records. It wasn’t long before they started acting like a record company, especially with the shrinking radio and record sales. … That put them at odds with me. Years ago , Wrangler jeans — actually, I’ve certainly worn Wrangler jeans and think it’s a great product — used "Fortunate Son" as part of campaign. And I said, "Oh, my God, they’ve turned my song into pants." It really bothered me, so I spoke about it. … To their credit they said, "Oh, John doesn’t like this, let’s pick on somebody else."
"Wrote a Song for Everyone" came out eight months ago. How has the re-entry process been for writing and recording new songs again?
I’m never very far away from it. I have a guitar in my hands every day, and I pretty much get in about four hours of practice every day. I’m still very much trying to get better.
WHEN|WHERE Wednesday night and Thursday night at 8, The Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO $64.50-$149.50, ticketmaster.com
Five essential albums
Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Green River" (1969). One of the most distinctive electric-guitar riffs in rock history kicks off this album of fantastic songs, both intense and catchy, from "Green River" to "Lodi" to "Bad Moon Rising."
Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Willy and the Poorboys" (1969). Hard to go wrong with CCR’s first five albums. This one opens with party-time "Down on the Corner" and intensifies through Fogerty’s political masterpiece, "Fortunate Son," and "Effigy."
Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Cosmo’s Factory" (1970). The seven-minute opener, "Ramble Tamble," and the 11-minute closing version of Marvin Gaye’s "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" suggest a looser and more experimental CCR, but in between are compact, explosive rockers, including "Who’ll Stop the Rain" and "Travelin’ Band."
John Fogerty, "Centerfield" (1985). By far, Fogerty’s best solo album, "Centerfield" retains some of CCR’s greatest qualities — the voice, the guitar-playing, the songwriting. But "The Old Man Down the Road" and the nostalgic baseball celebration "Centerfield" are both more lighthearted than anything Fogerty did in the past.
John Fogerty, "The Long Road Home: In Concert" (2006). This live CD-and-DVD retrospective captures a 60-year-old Fogerty leading his still-killer band through CCR and solo favorites. Beginning with the opening "Travelin’ Band," it’s obvious he’s really into this.