Twin Cities songwriter and Music in Minnesota editor Erik Ritland releases a new article every Friday. Ranging from fun lists to serious music commentary, they are a companion to his podcast, Erik Ritland isn’t so Bad.
Even 50 years after their heyday, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s radio hits are still as catchy and recognizable as ever. Tracks like “Proud Mary,” “Fortunate Son,” and “Bad Moon Rising” are deservedly iconic. They still sound fresh.
However, buried deep on their albums – and sometimes hiding in plain sight as neglected singles – are some fascinating nuggets. Below are five of the best, from heartbreaking ballads to psychedelic freak outs.
“Someday Never Comes” (from the 1972 album Mardis Gras)
Since you’ve taken the time to open this humble article, do yourself a favor and take my advice. If you haven’t heard this song, go and do so right now. Go ahead. Reading this can wait.
Back? Great. Isn’t this one of the most beautiful songs you’ve ever heard? The lyrics are so touching that it’s hard to believe that they came from the same guy who wrote all those dark, swamp-y CCR songs.
“I’m here to tell you now/each and every mother’s son/you better learn it fast/you better learn it young/’cuz someday never comes.”
Simply gorgeous. And it kinda rocks, too.
“Keep on Chooglin’” (from the 1969 album Bayou Country)
CCR was one of those crazy bands that could come out with the shortest, catchiest singles (“Hey Tonight,” “Commotion,” “Looking Out My Back Door”) as well as endlessly jam. While most 60s bands relegated jamming to live shows, CCR released a couple on albums, notably a kick ass cover of “I Heard it Through the Grapevine.”
Their show-stopper jam, though, is “Keep on Chooglin’.” What is ‘chooglin’? Who the hell knows. Creedence leader John Forgerty was in tune with some crazy spirits back in the day.
“Good Golly Miss Molly” (from the 1969 album Bayou Country)
Each CCR album features one or two 50s throwback songs. Most of them, though, weren’t standards (“Hello Mary Lou,” Roy Orbison Sun single “Ooby Dooby,” even Screaming Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” wasn’t widely known when they released their version). This scorching version of a Little Richard classic doesn’t have the reckless abandon of the original, but it does have a better guitar solo. In that it has one.
“Effigy” (from the 1969 album Willy and the Poor Boys)
Okay, twist my arm, I’ll tell you: “Effigy” is my favorite CCR song. And it was before I even knew that another one of my favorite bands, Uncle Tupelo, did a cover version. Creedence was known to get dark, but rarely did they ever go as deep as haunting “Effigy.” “Last night/I saw the fire spreading to/the palace door/silent majority/weren’t keeping quiet/anymore.”
“Rude Awakening #2” (from the 1971 album Pendulum)
CCR closed their last great album with this track, a 6+ minute instrumental that jumped on the psychedelic bandwagon just a few months too late. It’s a trip, though, and well worth listening to. A subtle, calm beginning gives way to a very classic CCR-like section before it ends with a 4-minute freak-out of backwards guitars and other various noises.
In case you were wondering, of course there isn’t a “Rude Awakening #1.”
Did we miss any? What are some different sounding songs from your favorite bands?