John Fogerty Enlists Country Stars For His New Duets Album
Miranda, Brad and Alan among those singing on “Wrote a Song for Everyone”
He may be a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but John Fogerty will be the first to admit that the swampy songs he has become known for, both as a solo artist and with his legendary band Creedence Clearwater Revival, are firmly rooted in country music.
“I think that was a well-kept secret at the time. My influences were showing pretty visibly,” says John of his CCR output. “A lot of those songs, if I’m in a country band, I’d be playing those right now.”
Indeed, hits like “Bad Moon Rising,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” and “Lodi” could easily be added to country radio playlists today.
And with the release of John’s new duets album, Wrote a Song for Everyone, which finds the California native singing with Nashville stars like Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert and Alan Jackson, and assorted rock artists, they just might be.
Unlike many projects of this ilk—all-star re-recordings of hits that seldom do justice to the originals—Wrote a Song for Everyone stands as its own album, fueled by inventive interpretations of the classic-rock staples and John’s own vibrant singing style.
Remarkably, he turned 68 on May 28, the day the album was released.
“It’s like a hurricane of a vocal,” says Keith Urban, who tackles the Fogerty solo song “Almost Saturday Night” on the album. “I grew up playing so many Creedence songs. And it’s really surreal, because John’s voice sounds exactly the same as it always has. Nobody sings like that, with his power and his ferocity.”
John says Keith was the first artist he recruited for Wrote a Song for Everyone.
“We have been buddies over the years and talked about doing this or that, but you never quite know. I think in the back of both of our minds, we thought someday we’d do something more permanent together, like write a song or make a record,” John says. “So I’m sure I called him or texted him and said, ‘Hey, Keith, you in on this?’ And he was, ‘Sure, just tell me where.’”
The finished version of “Almost Saturday Night” features so many of Keith’s touches, like the vocal mmm-mmms Keith drops into the intro, that you might think it’s actually his song.
“That’s what John wanted, me to do my thing,” Keith says.
It was also John’s prime directive to all the artists. “I wanted everybody to give me a fresh take on the song,” he says. “In fact, the other artists start singing before I do in all cases. It was more like I was a guest on their track. When I was working with Brad Paisley, I thought it was actually Brad’s track. It was new to me, you see?”
Brad’s contribution was the obscure “Hot Rod Heart” from John’s 1997 Blue Moon Swamp album.
“I picked that song,” Brad says. “He said, ‘That’s the last thing I thought I’d hear someone say.’ I’ve always loved it and felt like that should have been a single.”
Their recording session quickly became a guitar duel.
“Brad said he wanted to have a shootout on Main Street. I’m looking at him, and I thought, ‘He’s Clint Eastwood and I’m already dead!’” John laughs, praising Brad’s guitar virtuosity. “But I was game and it was fun.”
“He’s intense in the studio,” says Brad of working with John. “He will play a song 500 times and I am like three or four times. But he did [say] everybody’s track should be their track and their take on [his] song. . . . Isn’t that neat?”
John says all of the artists on the album, from Bob Seger and Kid Rock to Foo Fighters and Jennifer Hudson, ran with that freedom. But it was Zac Brown Band who really thought outside the box, adding their tropical harmonies to “Bad Moon Rising.”
“It’s so different from the old Creedence track that you have this new version of it. When it goes to the solos, they come back in with that signature thing they do,” John says enthusiastically.
And he’s equally effusive in his praise for Miranda Lambert’s bluesy rendition of the title track, a cut originally found on CCR’s 1969 Green River release.
“You may be wanting to get some duct tape to shut me up once I start talking about Miranda,” John jokes. “I love her voice. I love her whole persona. She is a strong personality and knows who she is. All that confidence and self-assurance comes through on her vocals. She was the very first song that we recorded.”
Likewise, John was honored by Alan Jackson’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” considering the low-key singer a country statesman.
“It’s like having Lincoln on your record. When I found out that he had agreed and he was going to be on my record, I was flabbergasted. I’m a huge fan and I’ve been a fan and been buying his records since 1989,” says John, who counts Alan’s albums among his all-time favorites. “They are the greatest records being made.
“I got to go to his home turf, in Brentwood [Tenn.], and I was just in complete awe. When he first starts to sing, I said, ‘That’s your weapon, man.’ It’s untouchable.”
Ironically, John is not. For all his honors and status as one of American rock’s architects, he is a most down-to-earth artist. Whether he’s speaking candidly about his love of music or cracking wise—“I just came back from running an hour ago. That’s the only way I keep my girlish figure,” he quips—John exudes a boyish wonder. It explains why his music, whether with Creedence or on Wrote a Song for Everyone, is still so full of life.
“It truly has been a labor of love,” John says of his new album, his ninth solo effort. “Think about it. I got to meet all these people and work with them. Working with Alan Jackson, I almost want to say Mr. Jackson. If you’re a fan and you buy a guy’s record and you’ve spent countless hours in your car just smiling at a song like ‘Little Bitty’ or ‘Small Town Southern Man,’ there’s a certain approach and philosophy you learn. Now, not only are you getting to see him up close, which is what a fan would die for, but the fact that you’re working on a song together and you’re recording it for your own record, it’s just an amazing experience.”
Which we’re sure is exactly what Brad, Keith and company are saying about John.