Green River, by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Suggested by Danny Nuttall
My first band, Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine, covered Bad Moon Rising.
It was one of our more popular songs. As a drummer, it posed few challenges, but it was infectiously bouncy and fun. There’s an endearing cuteness about it, almost a folksy jokesy watch-out-for-the-scary-ghosties schtick that’s almost Monster Mash camp. I’ve always enjoyed a clash between style and lyrical direction, and this is a fine example of an upbeat bouncer that chronicles an impeding doom. And it was hella fun to play.
It’s by far their biggest hit. In it, singer John Fogerty makes the following claim: “I see earthquakes and lightnin’.” Okay John, I’ll give you lightnin’, but you can see earthquakes, can you? Unless you’ve got a seismographs for eyes, I’ll wager what you are seeing is the effects and aftermath of a sizeable seismic event. I guess that doesn’t scan very well.
I see the bad moon a-rising,
I see trouble on the way,
I see the effects and aftermath of a sizeable seismic event and lightnin’,
I see bad times today.
While we’re on this, John, I’d also wager that, if you’re seeing the earth crack and buildings crumble, while lighting forks the sky and rents the clouds, that trouble is no so much “on the way” as it is “very definitely here”. And frankly, if the moon is a-rising, it’d probably dark so you’ll not see much of anything. Except in the dagger-slash illumination from said lightning, granted.
Basically, John, you’re talking out of your arse.
Bad Moon Rising is a great little song, definitely the standout here. As for the rest, they’re fresher and bolder than I’d expect from an album released at the business end of the Sixties. It’s a honed Rock Country sound, all swampland and bayou and alligator boots, which is incongruous as they’re all from San Francisco. Is this cultural appropriation? Probably. They used to be called The Golliwogs, if you’re looking for more PC rope to hang them.
While isn’t a duff song on this album, there’s also nothing quite as attractive as Bad Moon Rising. Both Green River and Lodi are genre staples today, and the melancholy Wrote A Song For Every paints a vivid picture of missed communication and lost love. Tombstone Shadow and Sinister Purpose both reveal dark themes in their rootsy rock and blues frame. John Fogarty’s country growl is a fine driver for this musical vehicle, and the tonal twang of the pitchy guitar adds down-home melody and cowboy colour throughout.
This is an accomplished release by an American Rock outfit. I give Creedence a creditable 7/10. Green River is a fine album, but alas, most of the songs are eclipsed by a particularly bright (bad) moon.