The Creedence Clearwater Revival song John Fogerty called “mythical”

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In the 1960s and 1970s, it was a prevalent myth that Creedence Clearwater Revival was a group of southern swamp rats.

In songs like “Proud Mary” and “Ramble Tamble,” CCR romanticized the sights and sounds of the South, yet the band itself was from the San Francisco Bay Area.

In fact, songs like “Green River” and “Lodi,” which both make references to regions in the band’s home state, may contain hints.

‘Born on the Bayou’ perfectly encapsulated the band’s love affair with the South. Most listeners assumed that the band would be from someplace near Louisiana after hearing John Fogerty’s booming voice talk about chasing down hoodoo and rushing through forested bays.

Fogerty claims that the song’s inspiration struck him during a sound check at San Francisco’s Avalon Ballroom.

“We were the #7 act on the bill, bottom of the totem pole. And as the first guys to go on, we were the last to soundcheck before they opened the doors.” He told Rolling Stone, “It was like, ‘Here’s the drums, boom, boom; here’s the guitar, clank, clank.’ I looked over at the guys and said, ‘Hey, follow this!’ Basically, it was the riff and the attitude of ‘Born on the Bayou,’ without the words.”

He also admitted, “‘Born on the Bayou’ was vaguely like ‘Porterville’, about a mythical childhood and a heat-filled time, the Fourth of July. I put it in the swamp where, of course, I had never lived. It was late as I was writing. I was trying to be a pure writer, no guitar in hand, visualizing and looking at the bare walls of my apartment.”

He added, “Tiny apartments have wonderful bare walls, especially when you can’t afford to put anything on them. ‘Chasing down a hoodoo.’ Hoodoo is a magical, mystical, spiritual, non-defined apparition, like a ghost or a shadow, not necessarily evil, but certainly other-worldly. I was getting some of that imagery from Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters.”

In his sparse apartment, Fogerty wrote “Born on the Bayou,” “Proud Mary,” and “Keep On Chooglin,” dreaming of removing himself from San Francisco’s urban environment.

Fogerty said in the book Band Moon Rising, “I was writing these at night, and I remember that Bobby Kennedy got killed during this time. I saw that late at night. They kept showing it over and over. ‘Bayou’ and ‘Proud Mary’ and ‘Chooglin” were all kind of cooking at that time.”

He claimed, “I’d say that was when the whole swamp bayou myth was born—right there in a little apartment in El Cerrito, It was late at night and I was probably delirious from lack of sleep. I remember that I thought it would be cool if these songs cross-referenced each other. Once I was doing that, I realized that I was kind of working on a mythical place.”

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