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How ‘Bayou Country’ Put Creedence Clearwater Revival On The Map

Released in January 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s album Bayou Country put the band on the map thanks to the singles ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Bayou Country’.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival Bayou Country

“Out of the west comes Creedence Clearwater Revival, a San Francisco band with a crunching R&B sound, a haunting way with blues and sturdy rock repertoire,” is how Billboard magazine announced the band’s debut album in late June 1968. Two weeks later, it was released, and, not long after, the self-titled album made its debut on the US album chart. It climbed to No 52, propelled by single ‘Suzie Q’, which made its own journey to No.11 on the singles chart. It was against this background of limited, but encouraging, success that CCR began work on their follow-up, Bayou Country, at RCA’s Hollywood recording studio in October 1968.

The album was completed before year’s end and hit stores on 6 January 1969. Ahead of the album’s release, Fantasy Records put out single ‘Proud Mary’, backed by ‘Born on the Bayou’ in mid-January (can you imagine making the latter excellent song a B-side?). By the end of the month, the double-sided single had crashed onto the Billboard singles chart, where it peaked at No 2 for three weeks in March. It was kept from the top by Tommy Roe’s ‘Dizzy’.

Listen to Bayou Country right now.

A week after ‘Proud Mary’ hit the stores, Bayou Country was officially released. With the momentum generated by the single, Bayou Country began its steady climb on the album charts, and by early April, it made the top 10, peaking at No.7 in May. Coincidentally, this was the same week that ‘Bad Moon Rising’ entered the singles chart, setting up the band’s third album, Green River, which would be released two weeks before the band performed at the Woodstock Festival that August.

‘Born on the Bayou’, with its swamp-like feel, is the opening cut on the album, and it establishes the mood for the whole first side of the long player.‘Bootleg’ and ‘Graveyard Train’ both carry on that vibe of voodoo, New Orleans mysticism and an altogether different America from the cities in the North and the California coast. Not everyone fully appreciated the power and potential of these songs, however. Critics were less than effusive. Even Rolling Stone wrote, “The good cuts are very good; but the bad ones just don’t make it.” Of course they would have been right, if there was a bad cut…

Before the band went into record Bayou Country, John Fogerty had already written many of the songs, including ‘Proud Mary’, which he didn’t have a title for. “I go 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.”

Strangely, perhaps,‘Proud Mary’ is placed as sixth out of the seven tracks on the album; conventional wisdom would say that is not the ideal place to put your strongest song, yet it works. Side two opens with a cover of Little Richard’s ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’, but it really isn’t a cover at all; it is a total reworking of the classic rock-and-roller that gets the full CCR treatment.

The blues of ‘Penthouse Pauper’  precede ‘Proud Mary’ – it’s another excellent song that has some searing lead guitar from John Fogerty against the solid rhythm section of Doug Clifford’s drums and Stu Cook’s bass, serving as a hallmark of the band and this album.

‘Keep on Chooglin’’ rounds the whole thing off with its Canned Heat-like boogie, but it has a quintessential Fogerty lead vocal that propels the track along, accompanied by his insistent guitar. It’s a perfect closer for what is a near-perfect album, but one that has had much less attention than it deserves, compared with the band’s more successful albums.

By the time that CCR took the stage at Woodstock, they were just about the most popular band in America on the strength of ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Bad Moon Rising’. During their hour-long set at the festival, they played both songs, along with ‘Bootleg’ and ‘Keep on Chooglin’’ from Bayou Country – and, in keeping with its status as the album opener, they began their set with ‘Born on the Bayou’.

We’ll let John Fogerty have the last word: “By the time we got to Woodstock, I felt we were the number-one band. Assuming that the Beatles were God, I thought that we were the next thing under them.” He was not wrong.

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Bayou Country can be bought here.

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24 Comments

24 Comments

  1. Donnie West

    August 23, 2014 at 12:13 am

    been listening to CCR,Like forever!! An inspiration that will forever live.. hit track.#Looking for a reason.

  2. Hawkeye

    August 23, 2014 at 1:29 am

    I have been a CCR fan since I first heard them and I still am. I am sorry they can’t overcome their differences but nevertheless-they were the GREATEST band of the laate 60’s and early 70’s and their music lives FOREVER !!!

  3. BENEDITO LIMA

    August 23, 2014 at 2:09 am

    EM PRIMEIRO LUGAR CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL ,DEPOIS VEM OS BEATLES E OS OUTROS……..

  4. Loretta McMichael

    August 23, 2014 at 3:44 am

    I GREW UP WITH CCR ( I HAD AN OLDER BROTHER ) I’M 53 NOW AND STILL LOVE THIS MUSIC . YOU KNOW IT’S THE BEST WHEN YOU LISTENED TO IT AT 12 AND STILL LISTING AT 53 YEARS OLD . MUSIC CAME AND WENT UNTIL THE LATE 60’S AND THE 70’S . AND THEN IT STAYED . CCR AND THE ROLLING STONES CAN NOT BE BEAT BY ANY OTHER BAND PAST OR PRESENT . THEY ARE THE BEST !!!!!!!!!!!
    LOVE YOU CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIRAL !!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Leo Löppönen

      August 23, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Loretta! You are wrong as saying….”..it`s best as you listen … it`s CLOSER the best as from 12 to 58…and STILL loving it! 🙂

  5. Ted Johns

    August 23, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Just saw John play this entire album plus other material last fall. It was a great show. I never expected to ever hear John play Graveyard Train live but by golly he did and it was great. Ive seen John several times in the past 10 years and he just keeps rockin. CCR forever.

  6. Ron Henney

    August 23, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    I saw John Fogarty here in Australia for my 50th a fantastic evening it was at Rochford Winery open air. Kids from 15yrs of age to people older than me new all the words and sang along . I have a 66 Mustang and when I’m not listening to the motor I’m listening CCR

  7. Luis R Morales

    August 23, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    John Fogerty still playing “his” hits better than ever , I

    • alvin karpas

      January 5, 2018 at 6:32 pm

      yes, he still playing, not better than ever

  8. Александр

    August 24, 2014 at 6:45 am

    Самая любимая пластинка великих – огромный респект за классику!!!

    The most favorite record great – huge respect for the classics !!!

  9. Cândido Borges (portuguese name)

    August 28, 2014 at 10:40 pm

    I Agree !!!

  10. Cândido Borges (portuguese name)

    August 28, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    Belissimo !!!

  11. Michelle T

    September 22, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    My dad listened to CCR. So I have been listening to them for as long as I cam remeber. I can go as far back as being 5 or 6 yrs. old. I’m 50 now.

  12. christina

    October 16, 2014 at 7:39 am

    I love them… This band was my dads favorite group..
    R.I.P RICHARD BERMUDEZ….. I MISS U

  13. Denny Mac

    January 18, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Hard to pick but mine would be Keep on Chooglin.

  14. Jimmie McBride

    January 19, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    I have loved CCR from the time I first heard them I ’68 or ’69. I’m 64 now. I have their music on LP and CD!

  15. Jimmie McBride

    January 19, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    I’ve been a big fan of CCR from the time they sold their first record. I think I have all their music on LP and CD! I raised my kids on classic rock,and Creedence was one of my very favorites!

  16. Cyro Cabral

    January 19, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    The best bar band ever

  17. Spikeymom

    January 19, 2015 at 10:46 pm

    I’ve been a fan of CCR since their first recording hit the airwaves.
    CCR forever! “Proud Mary” forever!
    Please keep on “rollin’on the river” a long as you can!

  18. Mark Wroblewski

    January 20, 2015 at 4:23 am

    Saw CCR the beginning of August of ’69 when I was just 13 years old with my older brother at the Atlantic City Pop Festival and they just blew everybody away singing and playing one song after another and getting standing ovations after each song. Just a powerful quartet back in those days and just a wonderful time that I will always remember to this day. Keep on chooglin’ always!

  19. Eddy

    January 20, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    I still remember buying my first CCR album, Bayou Country, I was 14 years old at the time and loved the sound from the beginning. I have all the CCR albums & some CD’s versions in the meantime, everyone is great ,even the last one, Mardi Grass.
    I went to all John Fogerty concerts in Belgium, the man is still playing great music, bought all his solo albums & CD’s too. It is indeed a pity that they never came & played together again. But I know , next time John F. comes to Belgium , I’ll be there!

  20. Gethin Evans

    February 8, 2015 at 11:30 pm

    CCR along with the Rolling Stones had a knack of putting there own flavour on covers that made them unique and there own. John Fogarty talents as a singer and musician is mind boggling.I love his guitar solo’s my favourite track has to be Pagan Baby obviously for the guitar solo among other parts of the song.

  21. stewart

    February 9, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    The musicis as good as it did when it was first released

  22. danie

    January 19, 2016 at 5:20 am

    I still remember how who”ll stop the rain got me through the army in 1982 what a great band pitty money split them up

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