Last week I had the good fortune to see John Fogerty live in concert at the Hard Rock Live. As many of you know, Fogerty was the singer and songwriter behind the legendary group Creedence Clearwater Revival, as well as his own solo recordings. He is a card-carrying member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and was on my bucket list of musical legends to see before I die.
I can cross him off my list. I just wonder which of us is going to die first. John Fogerty is 68 years old, but seems 30 years younger than he actually is. He sings and plays as good as he ever did, still wears his trademark plaid flannel shirts (which you can buy at the merch table), and runs around the stage with the energy and abandon of a twenty-something rocker. The pre-show video revealed that he practices guitar four hours a day, and runs six miles a day.
I don’t run six miles in a year.
So there he was, a living musical legend, performing songs from his Creedence and solo careers – so many great songs that have become a part of our American musical history and tradition. “Born on the Bayou.” “Green River.” “Who’ll Stop the Rain?” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.” “Hot Rod Heart.” “Midnight Special.” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” “Down on the Corner.” “Centerfield.” “Up Around the Bend.” “The Old Man Down the Road.” “Fortunate Son.” “Bad Moon Rising.” “Proud Mary.” And there were more – a lot more. His band was more than capable of meeting the challenge of keeping up with this incredible set list, and featured one of the finest rock drummers ever in Kenny Aronoff.
There will be so many cool memories I’ll have of this concert for years to come. Watching John play some of the guitars he used to record the original versions of the songs he played that night, including several of his old Gibson Les Pauls, an old Fender Telecaster, and the Louisville Slugger baseball bat guitar he used while playing “Centerfield”… the stories he would tell about the songs, especially the Woodstock story he told right before playing “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”… the energy and abandon with which he approached each song as if he were playing them for the first time.
He allowed local Shriners to sell copies of his newest CD, Wrote a Song for Everyone, with proceeds going to benefit Shriners’ Children’s Hospitals. The album features Fogerty playing new arrangements of many of his classic hits along with guest artists like Foo Fighters, Keith Urban, Bob Seger, Kid Rock, Zac Brown Band, Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, My Morning Jacket, Jennifer Hudson, and more. There are a couple of new songs as well, and the standout is a great reflective rocker about traveling through life called “Mystic Highway.”
Rolling Stone magazine gave the album five stars. After listening to it a couple of times, I certainly understand why. The songs are timeless as ever, and the duet performances reveal that making this record must have been a great time for all involved. Hearing the Foo Fighters tear into “Fortunate Son” with a vengeance, and listening to Fogerty trade guitar licks on “Hot Rod Heart” with an incendiary Brad Paisley alone make this CD worth it to have.
Musicians like Fogerty and Sir Paul McCartney continue to reinforce a theory I came up with early in my musical career: music keeps you young. There’s something about getting up on stage and singing/playing one’s heart out that takes the musician back to the first time he ever picked up a guitar or heard herself on a playback of a great recorded take. It’s mystic; it’s primal; it’s an amazing feeling that compares to nothing else. And it keeps a person in touch with the inner flame that’s in all of us. Certainly at this point in their careers, Fogerty and McCartney don’t need the money. They don’t quit because this is what they do and who they are.