John Fogerty Talks About Writing ‘Proud Mary’

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Fogerty proudly displaying his original songwriting book

He’s written some of classic rock’s most enduring compositions, for Creedence Clearwater Revival and his own solo career. On Sept. 30, 2017, John Fogerty shared on his Facebook page that the day marked the 50th anniversary of the start of his writing one of his best.

“Today is a pretty important day in my life,” he says. “Fifty years ago, in the summer of ’67, I was released from active duty in the Army Reserve. I got home to the San Francisco bay area, right in the middle of the Summer of Love. I bought myself a little binder and on the first page I wrote the words ‘Song Title.’ And then I sat down and waited for something to happen.

“After about a week, I finally had an inspiration and I wrote it down in my little music book. The inspiration was the words ‘Proud Mary.’ I didn’t write the song right away. A few months later, right when I had received my honorable discharge from the Army, I was so happy and excited, I ran in the house and started messing with my Rickenbacker and some chords came together and some words came together and I realized I was writing a song about a river boat.

“I got my little song book and opened it up and right on the first page were those words, ‘Proud Mary.’ And, by golly, I decided that’s the name of the boat!”

It wasn’t until January 1969 that “Proud Mary” was released as a single from their second album, Bayou Country. It became the first of CCR’s five songs to reach #2 on the Hot 100. (Though they scored nine Top 10 hits, they never earned a #1.) In 2005, Fogerty was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Ready to sing along to the lyric video?

Fogerty continues to tour. (Tickets are available here.)

Watch Creedence perform the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on March 9, 1969 as the single was peaking on the Hot 100

Related: Our Album Rewind of CCR’s Bayou Country

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  1. Baybluesman
    #1 Baybluesman 6 January, 2022, 15:31

    I saw John Fogerty perform his 1969/Woodstock 50th Anniversary Tour, at Pier Six Pavilion (Baltimore, MD) and The Man still has it.

    The guitar playing was phenomenal, the vocals were still strong (particularly for a musician/vocalist of that era), the set list incredible, and the band (including his two sons) was rock solid.
    Of course, having the consummate drummer in Kenny Aronoff, only added to the great performance of Fogerty’s CCR classics.

    I don’t recall exactly, but I believe he performed some 23 songs or so over the course of the evening.

    One concert which I certainly was glad I didn’t say “wait till next time” to attend.
    A concert that (in today’s inflated concert ticket prices) was well worth it.

    If John Fogerty ever tours again, I would highly recommend it, even if you are a casual fan of CCR or John Fogerty solo.

    Hopefully, he can keep up his health and stamina (he reportedly still jogs six miles each day) and perform at the level that I witnessed two years ago, and he was 74 years young at that time.

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