Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Creedence Clearwater Revival: "Porterville" (1967)

One of the many benefits I get from not listening to the radio is that it doesn't bother me that 3 or 4 of CCR's best tracks get overplayed. They do: I won't contest that, and on the few occasions in my adult life when I've been stuck listening to the radio, that bothers me.

But since I usually don't listen to the radio, I don't get sick of hearing "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," and "Down On The Corner." I only hear them when I get in the mood for Creedence, and that's a good mood to get in, and I'm glad I can get into it. 'Cause when I get into it, I always find there's more to Creedence than "Proud Mary," "Bad Moon Rising," and "Down On The Corner." Which you wouldn't necessarily know if you just listened to the radio.

Take for instance this song, "Porterville," a single in 1967 and a feature on their eponymous first album in 1968. You never hear this on the radio. This was before CCR had any hits, so this song gets forgotten, but that's not right. Why? 4 reasons.

1) That rusty barbed wire guitar rhythm. Doesn't sound like a freight train, more like an empty produce truck that you hitched a ride on bouncing through the Central Valley during a drought.

2) That first instrumental break: big full-band stomp-stop, and two bent sour notes on a guitar. Repeat four times. Yeah.

3) John Fogerty already has his Little Richard scream down: it makes his lead vocal sound so much tougher than the backing that the "I don't care!" refrain sounds almost cute.

4) The title is never mentioned in the lyrics. Is it this Porterville or this one? Geographically it's probably the one in California, but given CCR's Southern obsession it just could be the one in Mississippi. Does it matter? Isn't part of CCR's point that the South, the beauties and maladies associated with it, is everywhere in America?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It does matter. One of the members of CCR grew up in Porterville, Ca. It's not about the South.