That ’70s song, Vol. 7

Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the first bands I really dug. Today, I rarely listen to them.

Part of it is having heard it all so many times. I know every note, every line of the good tunes.

Part of it was the realization one day that although Creedence introduced me to swamp rock and roots rock — and I am grateful for that introduction — there are more authentic sources for those kinds of music. Creedence was, after all, four guys from northern California. They weren’t born on the bayou. They just sounded like it.

Few bands were hotter than Creedence in the third week of February 1970. They managed a rare feat, putting both sides of the same single in the Top 10 — the downbeat “Who’ll Stop the Rain” backed with “Travelin’ Band,” a wild rave-up reminiscent of Little Richard.

Apparently a little too reminiscent of Little Richard, whose music publishing company sued Creedence in 1971 for cribbing it from “Good Golly Miss Molly,” which Creedence had covered on its “Bayou Country” LP in 1969. (They settled out of court.)

I was reminded of this not too long ago when Deadspin excerpted Greil Marcus’ story about a memorable episode of “The Dick Cavett Show” during which Little Richard interrupts a bitter sparring match between “Love Story” author Erich Segal and New York critic John Simon.

“WHY, YES, IN THE WHOLE HISTORY OF AAAART! THAT’S RIGHT! SHUT UP! SHUT UP! WHAT DO YOU KNOW, MR. CRITIC? WHY, WHEN THE CREEDENCE CLEARWATER PUT OUT WITH THEIR ‘TRAVELIN’ BAND’ EVERYBODY SAY WHEEE-OOO BUT I KNOW IT CAUSE THEY ONLY DOING ‘LONG TALL SALLY’ JUST LIKE THE BEATLES ANDTHESTONESANDTOMJONESANDELVIS!”

From “Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll,” Greil Marcus, 1975.

WHEEE-OOO, indeed. So, did “Travelin’ Band” borrow from “Good Golly Miss Molly”? As always, you be the judge.

“Travelin’ Band,” Creedence Clearwater Revival, from “Cosmo’s Factory,” 1970.

“Good Golly Miss Molly,” Little Richard, 1958, from “Little Richard’s Grooviest 17 Original Hits,” 1968. It’s out of print, but the tune is available digitally or on just about any greatest-hits compilation.

Also worth noting: If you are somehow new to Creedence, or simply wishing to fill the gaps in your collection, you may wish to check out “The Singles Collection,” which was released last November. It has 30 singles from 1968 to 1972. It’s a two-CD box set with a DVD. The set also is available as 15 vinyl singles — reproductions of the original 45s. Either way, they’re the original single mixes, many of them mono.

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5 Comments

Filed under February 2010, Sounds

5 responses to “That ’70s song, Vol. 7

  1. Terry Anderson

    Jeff – there’s no doubt that CCR was liberally borrowing (a polite way to say pilfering) from Little Richard. But isn’t that the story of music – art for that matter?

  2. I agree, it is pretty subjective to say the least. Any blues or rock band playing traditionally based music is bound to have songs that sound like any other blues or rock song. You could say Little Richard cribbed his routine from Louis Jordan!!! Fogerty was even sued for ripping himself off! haha

  3. Ron Pfeifer

    Little Richard was, of course, quite a character. When he was here two summers ago, his need to push his religious views got in the way of his music — too bad. His stuff still makes me smile; it seems so uncontained, so natural. What a guy!

  4. he was paying little richard a compliment. imitation is the ultimate form of flattery. the most notable similarity is the vocal approach. he borrowed the vibe, but no direct lifts here. the music melody is different and the vocal rhythm is also. little richard did not make up the pieces he recombined to create his song either.

  5. Yeah, I guess they did. So did a lot of ‘em. Rock and roll!

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