The Heart of Rock and Soul
Dave Marsh, 1989
The clues in other Creedence songs lead to a different conclusion: Fogerty is rock and roll's version of an Old Testament prophet, preaching pessimism rather than damnation. "Long as I remember," he begins, with an intonation that implies he forgets nothing, clear back to the beginning. Alternately furious and heartsick, he spins a tale that includes political events, rock concerts seen from both sides of the stage, and private attempts to make sense of his life and the world.
With his band, particularly drummer Doug Clifford, working at peak efficiency, Fogerty magisterially draws upon a broad knowledge of American music: The lyrics, the beat, the guitar line, the melody allude to folk songs, country tunes, old R&B hits, Stones-style rock and roll. Yet what draws you back is the grain of his voice, the things it contains and expresses but cannot speak. And this voice is as far from the assurance of Elvis or Aretha as you can get. Fogerty seems confident of only two things: his doubts and his powerlessness. Hooking his audience as firmly as he's hooked himself, Fogerty makes his worries ours. The final chords ring out anthemically without resolving anything at all.
The idea that rock and roll is lighthearted good time music stops here, at the gateway to its heart of darkness.