Creedence Clearwater Revisited has a lengthy list of hit songs from which to draw when putting together a concert set list.
“Down on the Corner,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Proud Mary,” “Green River,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Lookin’ out My Back Door,” and “Fortunate Son” all were major hits in 1969-1970 — and that’s just for starters.
“We just get out there and play the heck out of these songs every night,” said Stu Cook, Creedence Cearwater Revisited’s bassist.
There’s only one problem: John Fogerty, the writer and singer of those songs, whose voice was such an integral part of the band formerly and more famously known as Creedence Clearwater Revival, refuses to play with his former bandmates.
That’s the dilemma facing Cook and Doug Clifford, the rhythm section of Creedence Clearwater Revisited, and fans of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Is it Creedence without Fogerty? And if it’s not, is it still worth hearing?
“People know why they come to see us,” Cook said in a recent phone conversation. “We just come to have a good time and we hope audiences will join us in that.”
That’s the plan, anyway, when Creedence Clearwater Revisited closes out the Down by the Riverside concert season Sunday night at Mayo Park.
Fogerty has been feuding, personally and legally, with Cook and Clifford, and with the band’s former record label, almost since Creedence Clearwater Revival broke up in 1972. Twenty-three years later, in 1995, Cook and Clifford started jamming together.
Cook picks up the story from there:
How did you guys start playing Creedence songs again?
“It just evolved. It was ‘What kind of music should we play? Why not Creedence? Nobody else does.’ Fogerty wasn’t. In fact, he was boycotting it. So we said, ‘Let’s see if anybody cares.’ I’ve got to admit, I was surprised, especially by how many young people were Creedence fans.”
You guys recorded so many songs in such a short time in the heyday of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Are you surprised how long it takes bands nowadays to record an album?
“Yes and no. You have to have the material. When we were recording, John was writing songs fast, and we were recording them just as fast. We would record singles until we nearly had an album, and then just add on some album tracks. We were over-prolific. I think it took its toll. We worked at such an accelerated pace. It just got ahead of us.”
Does all the rancor of the breakup and the lawsuits get in the way of enjoying the music?
“It’s always a distraction. But it doesn’t take away from the fun, no. I try to keep them separate.”
Given all the hits and great songs in your back catalog, how do you choose a set list?
“We’ve been playing the same set list for many years now. We think we’ve hit on the right combination of hits and album tracks. The order builds in energy. We like the way it flows.”
Top Creedence songs
Creedence Clearwater Revival had a wealth of great material, due in large part to the songwriting talents of John Fogerty. For all their hits, the band scattered equally good songs on their albums. Here’s one fan’s list of the five best, most important Creedence songs.
“Fortunate Son” — Anybody who got sent to Vietnam could relate to this angry song. Would be viciously funny if it weren’t so sadly true.
“Who’ll Stop the Rain?” — A song for the ages, or at least until someone stops the rain.
“Green River” — Fogerty, from the turmoil of the late 1960s, looks back at a more innocent, idyllic time.
“Bad Moon Rising” — Another song that eerily and succinctly captured its era, and yet seems so timeless.
“Proud Mary” — A song that, in its many cover versions, just keeps rollin’ along.
If you go
What: Creedence Clearwater Revisited in a Down by the Riverside concert. Opening act: Crazy on You: A Tribute to Heart.
When: 7 p.m. Sunday
Where: Mayo Park, Rochester