Before John Fogerty wrote a song for everyone — and the man has written many of popular music’s most timeless standards like “Proud Mary,” “Fortunate Son,” “Born On The Bayou” and “Who’ll Stop The Rain” to name just a few — he first wrote songs for himself.
“Every now and then, I did try and write a song for everyone, but it would all start because I would feel something deeply and personally that would mean a lot to me,” Fogerty explains today. “Something in the world would strike me as being bad or tragic or unfair like in `Fortunate Son’ and so I would get pissed off in a way that was very personal. Then as I was in the writing process, I would try to make the statement larger than just myself, and so in some small way, some songs became universal. But it wasn’t ever calculating. I couldn’t write commercials and jingles. I just began to think of ways to make the songs larger than myself, and the songs just kept growing.”
Wrote a Song For Everyone is a testament to the fact that the songs written by John Fogerty over the past forty-five years continue to speak in a powerful way to generations of music makers and music lovers. The stellar result is a heartfelt celebration of the impact Fogerty’s iconic songbook that find Fogerty working together with some of the most acclaimed and popular artists in music today. As Fogerty explains, “Writing songs can be very private, but making music is best made with other people. And on this album, I’ve had the honor of making music with many of my favorite people in music now.”
Wrote a Song For Everyone is a very big and moving album that reminds us once again how profoundly universal the songs John Fogerty has written truly are. “I must say that every now and then, there’s a song I’ve written that I felt like existed before me, and `Proud Mary’ is definitely one of them,” says Fogerty. “There’s other songs around in the world that feel like that — certainly more than a few by Dylan and the Beatles, to put myself in some very exclusive company. But in an abstract way, I’m kind of detached from it. I don’t walk around like I’m Irving Berlin. I think I’m an All American kid, so it blows me away to be associated with a song like that because in my heart of hearts, I know it’s pretty good. I felt like something or someone had touched me with that song. That was the first one like that. But I don’t think I was ever the spokesman of my generation. Bob Dylan can have that title. I used to joke around about that – like “Someone hand me the phone now — I need to get in touch with my generation.”
Wrote a Song for Everyone takes its fitting title for a Fogerty song that first appeared on Green River, the 1969 album by Creedence Clearwater Revival, the legendary group that Fogerty led so brilliantly. “My wife Julie came up with calling this album Wrote a Song For Everyone, and the second she said it, I was like `Of course,’ because it made so much sense,” Fogerty explains. “We didn’t have a title when we started. I would blanche when someone called it Duets. I feel like that title has been used. Julie had suggested the project, and her idea was a little different and more interesting than how I perceive most of these get-togethers. Julie said, `Instead of these people doing your songs for you, why don’t you pick some great people work together and create something different and unique?’ She got it. Then the light finally went on in my head that I could get to meet some of my favorite artists and make a record with them. Suddenly, this get together became an very exciting prospect.”
“It dawned on me gradually that I could work with this new generation of men and women I admire who are full of music,” Fogerty says. “But as time went on we realized we should tell them what the project was, let it resonate with them, and see if they had a concept so that they could bring their own thing to the process. We wanted to leave room for the artists to have a vision about it or pick a song rather than me trying to horse collar everyone. Sometimes I would go to them with an idea about the song, but all the artists had their take on how it should go. I love that because that’s what made it interesting so that it’s not just a copy of the original.”
Here’s what John Fogerty had to say about the collaborators with whom he shared some of his greatest songs on Wrote a Song For Everyone:
FOO FIGHTERS (“Fortunate Son”)
I am a rock & roll kid. I grew up on mainstream AM rock and roll as rock and roll was being born. I heard some Sun, some Chess from Chicago, and suddenly there was Elvis on Ed Sullivan and everyone knew what rock was. When you walk in the room and the Foo Fighters are blasting away, and you’re standing next to Dave Grohl and singing “Fortunate Son” you feel you’re at the center of everything. I’ve gotten to know Dave a little bit, and we even sat down one day and wrote some, and I’m here to say that he and his band really are carrying the flag of rock and roll today. There are no bones about it – and I’m glad he’s the one doing it. Dave has hit the rock and roll bulls-eye. And we’ve had a great musical connection — it’s not just about our mutual love of flannel.
KEITH URBAN (“Almost Saturday Night”)
I’ve known Keith Urban for a while now. We did a CMT Crossroads together about 2005, and I was honored he wanted to do it with me. It took me a while to say yes, as it usually does, and I’m glad I did since we had a blast. I have known Keith so long that my wife Julie was giving Keith dating advice – before he met Nicole. Keith is just a great singer and guitar player, and a great guy too. We did something together for Neil Young at his MusicCares event — and for this album we had a blast doing “Almost Saturday Night” which was on my 1975 solo album John Fogerty, and keeps coming back to life over the years. “The first time I recorded it alone, so it’s great to share the song now with a musician of Keith’s caliber.
SHANE & TYLER FOGERTY (“Lodi”)
As a proud father, it was kind of a dream for me to get the chance to record “Lodi” again with my two talented sons, Shane and Tyler. When we first starting talking about how to do “Lodi,” the guys wanted to take the song in more of a Fleet Foxes direction, but I more and more felt like it should have a bluesier sound than that. Eventually, we figured it all out, and we made things even better, we got to record “Lodi” at Abbey Road studios while I was on tour. How was recording at Abbey Road? Well, as you might guess, it was Fabulous.
NEW SONG (“Mystic Highway”)
“Mystic Highway” is one of the two new songs on the album, but it’s a title that I first jotted down in my notebook many years ago. Some songs take their time coming, but they can be well worth waiting for all the same. I thought writing a few new songs for this album was an important challenge. I’m still just as passionate as ever about making music, and I wanted the new songs to earn their place on this album. I guess it’s fitting that “Mystic Highway” is a long trip of a song.”
MIRANDA LAMBERT WITH TOM MORELO (“Wrote a Song For Everyone”)
The first cut we actually did was with Miranda, who I have become a huge fan of in recent years. These are all people who I buy their records. I like what they do. So the fact that they feel the same way means so much to me. Somehow Miranda found a day to do this the weekend before her latest album was coming out. Her calendar was totally full, yet she penciled me in and I was touched that she insisted on finding the time to work with me in the middle of all the demands coming her way. During a run-through, Miranda called out for a “face-melting guitar solo” after a verse. And in the end, boy, did we get one — thanks to Tom Morello who came in and really blew me away.
ZAC BROWN BAND (“Bad Moon Rising”)
Songs are living things, and their tone and meaning keep changing based on the times, and based on your life too. This latest version of “Bad Moon Rising” has a lot of the love and joy and the Zac Brown Band puts into their unique and rootsy music. I love what Zac and the band brought to the song and this recording. This is a group that has made it big by being very true to themselves, and that’s because they know who they are. They have a little jam band in them, and it really was a pleasure to jam with Zac and the guys.
MY MORNING JACKET (“Long as I Can See the Light”)
I’d listened to a few of My Morning Jacket songs, and have been hearing how great they are for years. I was very happy to hear that they were thrilled like kids to record this song with me, and when we got together at Blackbird, so was I. It took a little while to get the song in their comfort zone, but then they zeroed in like great bands do. I think when people hear our version of “Long as I Can See the Light” they will be pleasantly surprised. It’s not exactly like the original — it’s clearly an artistic vision – and a really radiant record with such a vibe about it. They choose an interesting song and brought a lot of character and soul to it. This is very fresh and different, but true to the spirit of the song.
KID ROCK (“Born on the Bayou”)
I’ve gotten to know Kid Rock a little bit more over the last few months and he’s a delightful guy. Bob Seger kept talking about Kid Rock, and eventually we went to his place and hung out in LA. “Born on the Bayou” came out really cool. Kid Rock has a unique sound, and it makes the track all the more fun.
NEW SONG (“TRAIN OF FOOLS”)
At the risk of sounding too pleased with myself, I am very proud of this new song. It’s a pretty dark song that has some rage in it, but I believe that it’s a very righteous rage. As a writer and a man, I’ve always thought a lot about what’s right and what’s wrong. So this song is a dark ride, but musically it’s one I loved taking.
DAWES (“Someday Never Comes”)
I think that it was originally my kids and Bill Bentley at Vanguard’s idea to record with Dawes. They had a lot more music in them than I ever expected. They’re the kind of the new country rock folk band that I’m coming to discover and appreciate through my kids. The guys really impressed me as solid musicians who were willing and able to explore. Our version of “Someday Never Comes” turned out really nice, and the two brothers – Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith — do that brother thing like the Everly Brothers, and that always works for me.
BOB SEGER (“Who’ll Stop The Rain”)
Bob and I met once at one of my shows way, way back, and then he came to see me in Detroit in the 90s. He had stepped back from music then, and he was more into sailing at that point. I don’t think I was bold enough to ask him to do something then, but his wife was elbowing him. He didn’t seem that interested and I understood that because I went through my own long period of not wanting to make music and join the human race again. When you’re ready, you’re ready. Generally, if someone is good and can do it and isn’t, there are some pretty good reasons, and you have to respect that. How does he sound? He sounds great. We recorded at Blackbird in Nashville, he was strumming and singing “Who’ll Stop The Rain” and once I heard that, I knew we needed to get that spirit rather than just remake the Creedence record. I was hearing the voice of Bob alone with a guitar, and we needed to start there. Bob strums unusually and soulfully, and the chords sounded almost like “Night Moves.”
BRAD PAISLEY (“Hot Rod Heart”)
I revere Brad because he’s so incredibly musical. I revere him more like the older artists who I look up to – which is funny because he’s a lot younger than me. We had met before and traded licks, and I knew he was a gear head like me. I told him how I loved his instrumental album Play – which is something I had thought about doing. I knew he loved great cars and old guitars and played the heck out of them. He suggested doing “Hot Rod Heart” from my 1997 album Blue Moon Swamp – which was so cool. Most people would pick one of the big monsters. Brad told me when he was 13 he played “Centerfield” at some festival. He turned it into a Tele song. This is kind of a new golden age for country guitar guys, and Brad deserves lots of credit for that.
ALAN JACKSON (“Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”)
I’m a huge fan of Alan’s, and have been one for a long, long time. He always seemed tied to that Golden Age when lots of country records were also rock & roll records — starting with “Blue Suede Shoes.” Alan’s sound is rooted in that golden age. In my mind, everyone would approve — the great country artists and the great rockers. I was a little intimidated, but it turned out I didn’t have to worry – he liked me too. I had lived in Nashville for a year around the turn of the century, and we recorded in this place I had passed by many times called The Castle just south of Nashville. That’s where Alan made his sound. He had his producer Keith Stegall there. This was his team and cats like Brent Mason. We did “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” and I’d see his mic technique, and his sound sent chills up my spine. It blew my friggin’ mind to be there getting that Alan Jackson sound. In my eyes it’s like recording with Lincoln – pretty cool.
JENNIFER HUDSON WITH ALLEN TOUSSAINT AND THE REBIRTH BRASS BAND (“Proud Mary”)
“Proud Mary” is a song I wrote that has a lot of history. Sometimes I pinch myself knowing I was the one who wrote that song; I am very proud of it. The way it came together was special and means a lot to me. It started with a different song of mine that I was trying to rearrange, and I vaguely suggested maybe it should have a bit of New Orleans in it. My wife Julie said, “No! John, it should be Proud Mary, and you have to do it full-on New Orleans-style – Cajun, Zydeco, horns…all of it!” It made so much sense and worked so beautifully. The lovely thing is that Jennifer is who she is – she’s so full of heart and soul. There are a lot of people who sing well in this world, but Jennifer gets in front of a microphone and she isn’t like anyone else in the world. She’s one of a kind and I’m just glad to capture it on this song. We went to New Orleans and worked with the legendary Allen Toussaint and The Rebirth Brass Band. The experience was wild, and eventually we figured out how to capture it all here. It’s something of which we can all be proud.”
For John Fogerty, Wrote a Song For Everyone is truly the album of a lifetime, and yet at the same time it is a new and vital piece of music that brings this legend together with some new fans and friends that happen to be some of the most exciting names in music today. “I’m honored and humbled that my music still means something to so many people including the artists on this album,” Fogerty says. “I love making music. So the idea that I get to do this for a living still instead of selling insurance, well, that means the world to me.”