When I sat down with Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member John Fogerty recently to discuss his new all-star album revisiting his Creedence Clearwater Revival songbook, we spoke about many of those collaborations for the feature story that will appear in the Sunday Arts & Books section.
With more than a dozen artists participating on “Wrote a Song for Everyone,” including the Foo Fighters, Kid Rock, Brad Paisley, Miranda Lambert, Tom Morello and Jennifer Hudson, there were far more stories to tell than we could cover in one article.
One I didn’t touch on in Sunday’s story is the album’s closing track, “Proud Mary,” possibly Fogerty’s best known and most popular song. The new version features Jennifer Hudson and New Orleans musicians Allen Toussaint and the Rebirth Brass Band.
I knew of Fogerty’s affinity for all things New Orleans, having spotted him hanging out several times at the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival when I attended multiple years in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
He said the arrangement for this new look at “Proud Mary” came up by happenstance as he and his wife, Julie, who co-produced the album with Fogerty, were discussing music at dinner one night and he started throwing out ideas about ways to play one of his more recent songs, “Don’t You Wish It Was True,” during his live shows.
“I always thought ‘Don’t You Wish It Was True’ was a really good song of mine that kinda never got the exposure it should have,” Fogerty said. “I said, ‘Honey, how about if I give it a New Orleans treatment -- maybe some piano, like Dr. John, and give it that swing [and] maybe have a little horn part?’”
“She’s looking at me and her eyes are getting bigger and bigger and she says, ‘Proud Mary’! I said, ‘No, no, I’m talking about ‘Don’t You Wish It Was True.’ She said, ‘ “Proud Mary”! What you’re talking about -- you should do that with “Proud Mary.” I said, ‘What do you mean?’ She said, ‘ “Proud Mary” … New Orleans … Cajun-zydeco, the horns, the gospel, it’s like, duh, New Orleans!’ ... It goes together like beans and rice’.”
The song begins with Hudson singing it on a low simmer similar to the way Tina Turner reinvented it in 1971 in the hit version she did with then-husband Ike Turner. Then the song morphs into a rolling New Olreans second-line street-parade treatment as Toussaint and the Rebirth Brass Band join in.
“We were going to have everybody be in New Orleans, so that’s what we did, it was like her, ourselves and we met Allen down there in the studio,” Fogerty said. “It wasn’t going to be files floating around in the -- What do they call that? -- the e-space. The I-gumbo. The I-swamp. So we were all there that day at Piety Studio in New Orleans. And the Rebirth Brass Band. It worked out so great.
“Obviously, that had to be the final selection on the album,” he said, “because you can’t do anything after that.”
“Wrote a Song for Everyone” will be released May 28, on Fogerty’s 68th birthday, when he’ll also play an album release show at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles.
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