Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River

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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River.jpg
Studio album by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Released August 3, 1969
Recorded March–June 1969
Studio Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco
Genre
  • Roots rock
  • swamp rock
  • country rock
Length 29:25
Label Fantasy (original U.S. edition)
Producer John Fogerty
Creedence Clearwater Revival chronology
Bayou Country
(1969)
Green River
(1969)
Willy and the Poor Boys
(1969)
 
Single from Green River
  1. "Bad Moon Rising"/"Lodi"
    Released: April 1969
  2. "Green River"/"Commotion"
    Released: July 1969

 

  "Green River" is the third studio album by American rock and roll band Creedence Clearwater Revival, released in August 1969 after their second release "Bayou Country" which was released in January of the same year. In 2003, the album was ranked number 95 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. It features two of the band's best-known songs, "Bad Moon Rising" and the title track.

 

Background

In January 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival released their second studio album "Bayou Country" and released their breakout single "Proud Mary" backed with "Born on the Bayou", which reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Producer and primary songwriter John Fogerty was the driving creative force behind CCR, which would record three albums in 1969 alone. The band's single-mindedness and work ethic drew the ire of some other San Francisco-based bands, with drummer Doug Clifford recalling to Jeb Wright of Goldmine in 2013, "We went to see the local bands and they were so stoned they weren’t even in tune and they were really terrible...We made a pact on the floor of the Fillmore, right then, where we would do no drugs or alcohol. We decided to get high on the music, or get out of the business." Going against the grain at the times, Creedence eschewed the acid-inspired free-form jams favored by many rock bands for tightly-structured roots music with an unmistakable rockabilly edge. "I didn't like the idea of those acid-rock, 45-minute guitar solos," Fogerty explained to Uncut's David Cavanagh in 2012. "I thought music should get to the point a little more quickly than that." Their musical discipline, coupled with Fogerty's prolific songwriting, would catapult the band to super-stardom.

 

Composition

CCR's third studio album includes two of their biggest hits, "Bad Moon Rising" and "Green River", both of which peaked on the U.S. chart at #2, as well as the highly regarded "Lodi" (#52) and "Commotion" (#30). "Bad Moon Rising" is notable for its jaunty, happy music juxtaposed with its dark, ominous lyrics. It was inspired by a scene in the 1941 film The Devil and Daniel Webster involving a hurricane, with John Fogerty stating that the words told of "the apocalypse that was going to be visited upon us. It wasn't until the band was learning the song that I realized the dichotomy. Here you got this song with all these hurricanes and blowing and raging ruin and all that, but...It's a happy-sounding tune, right? Regarding the title track, Fogerty recalled in 1993:

Green River is really about this place where I used to go as a kid on Putah Creek, near Winters, California. I went there with my family every year until I was ten. Lot of happy memories there. I learned how to swim there. There was a rope hanging from the tree. Certainly dragonflies, bullfrogs. There was a little cabin we would stay in owned by a descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody. That's the reference in the song to Cody Jr. The actual specific reference, "Green River," I got from a soda pop-syrup label. You used to be able to go into a soda fountain, and they had these bottles of flavored syrup. My flavor was called Green River. It was green, lime flavored, and they would empty some out over some ice and pour some of that soda water on it, and you had yourself a Green River.

In 2012, Fogerty stated:

What really happened is that I used a setting like New Orleans, but I would actually be talking about things from my own life. Certainly a song like "Green River" – which you may think would fit seamlessly into the Bayou vibe, but it's actually about the Green River, as I named it – it was actually called Putah Creek by Winters, California. It wasn't called Green River, but in my mind I always sort of called it Green River. All those little anecdotes are part of my childhood, those are things that happened to me actually, I just wrote about them and the audience shifted at the time and place.

The somber "Lodi" did not make the Top 40 but went on to become a rock radio staple and a fan favorite. It describes the plight of a down-and-out musician whose career has landed him playing a gig in the town of Lodi (pronounced "low-die"), a small agricultural city in California's Central Valley about 70 miles from Fogerty's hometown of Berkeley. After playing in local bars, the narrator finds himself stranded and unable to raise bus or train fare to leave. Fogerty later said he had never actually visited Lodi before writing the song, and simply picked it for the song because it had "the coolest sounding name." However, the song unquestionably references the town's reputation as an uninteresting farm settlement (the song's chorus, "Oh Lord, stuck in Lodi again", has been the theme of several city events in Lodi). "Commotion" has been cited as a metaphor for the social and political unrest that America was experiencing at the time Fogerty asserted in 2012 to Uncut, "I didn’t think 'Commotion' was social commentary, ’cause all this stuff was just in the air. I realized it wasn’t 'Blue Suede Shoes,' but, trust me, if I could’ve written 'Blue Suede Shoes,' I would’ve sold my soul for it. But I was writing about what was in the air, and that was what came out of me. I was just doing what came naturally."

Other significant tracks on the album include the lament "Wrote a Song for Everyone", which, according to the VH1 Legends episode on the group, deals with Fogerty's failing marriage, and the Ray Charles cover "The Night Nime is the Right Time", continuing the Creedence tradition of including classic R&B and early rock and roll songs on their studio albums, as they had with Dale Hawkins' "Susie Q" (1968's Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Little Richard's "Good Golly Miss Molly" (1969's Bayou Country). In 2012 Uncut called "Cross Tie Walker" "a quintessential Johnny Cash two-step with a nifty bassline and a tale about a hobo hopping a train and starting a new life." The phrase "cross tie walker" appears earlier in the album, as part of the lyrics for "Green River". Although Fogerty was producing, arranging and writing all the songs at this point, as well as handling lead guitar and singing duties, bassist Stu Cook insisted to Bill Kopp of musoscribe.com, "We didn't always play the parts we were given. John showed us lots of stuff he wanted specifically in songs; songwriters often do that. They come up with a song, they have an arrangement they want to hear. Some things are important, and other things are less important. We had a sufficient amount of latitude in writing and arranging our parts." Although he has always maintained that the band's artistic vision was solely his own, Fogerty himself conceded to Rolling Stone's Michael Goldberg in 1993, "Probably ninety-nine percent of the tracks we did as a quartet are played live with all four guys playing at the same room. I've heard the rumor over the years that 'after they left the studio, John went in and re-recorded all the parts.' No. I think the charm of what you hear on those records is four guys really playing." However, Fogerty has always maintained that the ideas for Creedence were his; in 1998 he asserted to Harold Steinblatt of Guitar World, "Many times — in fact, most of the time — they never heard the melodies until after the record came out...I showed the band how each part went — I showed them the music that fit the song I had written."

 

Reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 5/5 stars
Rolling Stone original (favorable)
Rolling Stone reissue 5/5 stars

Rolling Stone called it "a great album" with the reviewer further stating "they are now creating the most vivid American rock since Music From Big Pink". AllMusic gave the album 5 stars (out of 5) with Stephen Thomas Erlewine stating: "If anything, CCR's third album Green River represents the full flower of their classic sound initially essayed on its predecessor, Bayou Country. John Fogerty has stated many times that Green River is his favorite Creedence album, telling Tom Pinnock of Uncut in 2013, "“Green River” was my favourite song from the Creedence era, because it really had the whole Sun Records vibe to me – and the album, too."

 

Track listing

All tracks written by John Fogerty, except where noted.

Side one
No. Title Length
1. "Green River" 2:36
2. "Commotion" 2:44
3. "Tombstone Shadow" 3:39
4. "Wrote a Song for Everyone" 4:57
Side two
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Bad Moon Rising"   2:21
2. "Lodi"   3:13
3. "Cross-Tie Walker"   3:20
4. "Sinister Purpose"   3:23
5. "The Night Time is the Right Time" Nappy Brown, Ozzie Cadena, Lew Herman 3:09

 

 

Personnel

Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • John Fogerty – lead and backing vocals, lead guitar, piano, keyboards, harmonica, arranger
  • Tom Fogerty – rhythm guitar, except on tracks 12-14
  • Stu Cook – bass guitar
  • Doug Clifford – drums
Production
  • John Fogerty, Saul Zaentz – producers
  • Chris Clough – compilation producer
  • Basul Parik – cover art, photography
  • Russ Gary – engineer
  • Larissa Collins – art direction
  • Geoff Gans – reissue design
  • Dave Marsh, Joel Selvin – reissue liner notes

 

Charts

Album

Year Chart Position
1969 Billboard R&B Albums #26
Billboard 200 #1
RPM Top Albums #2
1970 UK Albums Chart #20

 

 

 

 

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Green River

Liming Records LM 2324 stereo (1969)

Record manufactured in Taiwan.

Album produced by John Fogerty.

The vinyl record attains a strong excellent grading, suggesting few plays.

Audio quality is very clear and strong throughout.

Both record centre labels are free from tears, stains or stickers.

The album's paper sleeve is in excellent condition, displaying only minor creasing.

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