Proud Mary - Creedence Clearwater Revival

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"Proud Mary" - Creedence Clearwater Revival (1969)

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s "Proud Mary" was written by singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist John Fogerty. Released in January 1969 it peaked at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the first of five consecutive hits of CCR that would reach number 2.

It’s been said the song resulted from the time John Fogerty spent in the National Guard yet thanks to his military commitment, he hadn’t ventured further east than Montana.

The riffs for “Proud Mary “were conceived and arranged by him from parts of different songs along three separate levels: “Proud Mary,” “Riverboat,” and “Rolling On A River.” The line “Left a good job in the city” was from a movie by Will Rogers.

Fogerty remembers about the song:

“Because I was writing – this is late ‘67 and early ‘68 – it occurred to me one day that what I liked was song titles. So I got myself a cheap little notebook, and I made myself a title page that said “Song Titles” [laughs], and the first thing I wrote was “Proud Mary”. I looked at it and said, “Hmm… what does that mean? Maybe it’s like a domestic worker, a maid.”

Then he began to write the melody. He says that the flow sounded good, but had no idea what it was about. He explains:

“So I went back to the song-title book and “Proud Mary” is sittin’ there, and dang if it didn’t sound like a paddle wheel goin’ around. I said, “Man, that sounds like a riverboat!” Now, that’s the magic, the myth, the voodoo of this whole deal. I began to write the song – the story – of that boat, Proud Mary. It was the central character. That’s exactly how it happened; it’s no more mythical than that.”

Fogerty says that when he recorded it he knew what I wanted the backgrounds to sound like:

“I said to the group: I’m gonna sing all the parts” – ‘cause I’d been doin’ that for years with my tape recorder at home, and I knew harmony, and the other guys in the band, frankly, did not. Instead of delving into the underground, my Elvis-and-Beatles upbringing came directly into play. When I finished recording Proud Mary I said to myself, “Wow, that’s my first standard.”

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