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Published: 2013/08/17
by Dan Berthiaume

John Fogerty
Wrote a Song For Everyone

Vanguard Records

John Fogerty has written an astounding number of hit songs over the years but somehow often gets overlooked when great rock songwriters are discussed. Part of the reason may be that most of them were released by Creedence Clearwater Revival rather than by Fogerty as a solo artist. But part of the reason may also be that Fogerty’s songs are so quintessentially down-home American that they comfortably blend into the background, like the smell of barbecue smoke on a hot summer day.

In any event, Fogerty’s musical peers and successors are fully aware of the simple but effective genius of his songs, and on the new album “Wrote a Song For Everyone,” many of the biggest stars of today and yesterday across a variety of genres join him in remaking them.

The wide breadth of performers participating in this musical project illustrates just how accessible Fogerty’s music really is. The Foo Fighters kick things off in an intense remake of the antiwar classic “Fortunate Son,” with churning guitars, raspy moaning from Dave Grohl and incessant drums giving the song a feel similar to that of a 1980s metal anthem. Fogerty wails right along, clearly caught up in the energy.

On the other end of the musical spectrum, several guest performers help bring out the country side of Fogerty’s tunes. The Zac Brown Band take the already country-tinged “Bad Moon Rising” to a new level, while Tom Morello shows a continuingly surprisingly broad range with his twangy playing on the title track, also featuring pretty vocals from Miranda Lambert. Brad Paisley raises some hell on the Fogerty solo number “Hot Rod Heart” and Alan Jackson fits in nicely on an updated version of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain.”

Other songs from the album demonstrate that Fogerty’s writing fits in with just about any American form of popular music. He turns “Lodi” into a blues shuffle, playing with his sons Shane and Tyler, while indie faves Dawes rock up the melancholy classic “Someday Never Comes” with a nasty guitar solo. The duet with Kid Rock on “Born on the Bayou” probably strays less from the original than any other song on the album, but considering Kid Rock’s gradual evolution from hip-hopper to retro rocker this is actually not too surprising. Bob Seger lends a stately tone to “Who’ll Stop the Rain” with his deep, gravelly voice, and Jennifer Hudson, Allen Touissant and the Rebirth Brass Band turn “Proud Mary” into a New Orleans funk party reminiscent of the legendary Ike and Tina cover version.

Ultimately, Wrote a Song For Everyone proves that close to 50 years into his career, Fogerty is still relevant to the sound of modern popular music. He may be most relevant to modern country, which borrows as much from roots rockers like CCR and Lynyrd Skynyrd as it does from Willie Nelson and Hank Williams. But the quality of his work still stands, no matter who is helping him reinterpret it.

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