|Mike Dariano||Aug 27, 2019|
“I did’t like how Beethoven had composed it.” John thought Ludwig Van Beethoven erred. “I preferred hitting the first chord hard for emphasis, not the fourth.”
John was a songwriter trying to get his start. He’d just been honorably discharged from the Army Reserve - and avoided the Vietnam War - and with that ambiguity lifted picked up his guitar and played his version of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
That song had a title. Two words he wrote in a notebook. They sounded good together, though “I didn’t really know what those two words meant.”
He kept playing, writing, and strumming. “When I added the rhythm to the chords, the song had the motion of a boat. I had always loved Mark Twain’s writing and the music of Stephen Foster, so I wrote the lyrics about a riverboat.”
He took the song to his band. They recorded it but ran out of tape during the last take. When John listened to it he hated the way the guys sounded. “When I told the guys I was going to overdub the vocal harmony track myself, we had a big fight.”
The manager quelled the dispute took the band out to dinner while John tinkered with the song.
Let’s take stock. John thinks Beethoven was wrong. John thinks his band is wrong. John has lived his entire life in California yet knows enough to write a song about life on the Mississippi River. John was twenty-two.
But it worked. Proud Mary was released and reached number two on the Billboard pop chart. When Tina and Ike Turner covered the song it reached number four. John Fogerty had no credentials—but in music no one does. And it’s not just in music, it’s everything. Credentials like degrees are nouns. What really matters is what’s behind that, verbs, the things we do.