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!”

Watch Fogerty reminisce about the creation of one of his best compositions

50 years ago today, I picked up this very notebook and wrote down the words #ProudMary. Here’s how the song came to be:

Posted by John Fogerty on Friday, September 29, 2017

It wasn’t until January 1969 that “Proud Mary” was released as a single. 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.

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

Ready to sing along to the lyric video?

Related: Review of CCR’s 1969 archive box set

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