Sunday, November 22, 2009

'Green River' by Creedence Clearwater Revival is a perfect album

When a person refers to art as 'perfect,' the word is used in a subjective way. After all, artistic creations impact different people in different ways. This fact is one of the great elements that stimulate impassioned artistic debate. With this in mind, I believe Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival is a perfect album.

Released in 1969, it was CCR's first album to top the charts, and the band was performing at its peak. John Fogerty (vocalist, lead guitar), Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar), Doug Clifford (drums), and Stu Cook (bass) had been performing for years, and by the point of this album's release, they were as tight and sharp as any band on the planet.

Four songs on the album are still radio staples today. The title song hearkens to the joys of youth, and it comes across as a musical cousin of the band's first big hit 'Proud Mary' (though the lyrics are very different). 'Bad Moon Rising' cloaks itself in apocalyptic imagery and says a lot in only two minutes and eighteen seconds. 'Commotion' also sings of unrest. Songwriter John Fogerty was correct to dip both 'Bad Moon Rising' and 'Commotion' in images instead of specific events when it came to the lyrics. Because of this, the songs are just as relevant today (maybe more so) than they were back then. For example, even though Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young's powerful song 'Ohio' strongly delivered the outrage of the Kent State massacre in 1970, the song has lost some of its punch today because that specific event was so long ago.

The last song heard a lot on the radio from this album is 'Lodi.' It is a song about a struggling band playing in a dump and wondering if they will ever make the big time. It is a song every band can relate to, and even a non-musical person like me can relate as well. Haven't we all been struggling at some aspect of our lives and found ourselves somewhere we didn't want to be?

The rest of Green River is full of strong album cuts. 'Tombstone Shadow' is about a whimsical visit to a fortune teller. 'Wrote a Song for Everyone' is a poignant ballad about the inability to communicate on a person-to-person level. 'Sinister Purpose' deals with a Rasputin-like person with evil on his mind. 'Cross-Tie Walker' is a country-flavored delight.

Green River was the second album in a remarkable five-album run for the band. In 1969 and 1970, CCR released five albums all of which made the Top 10 and sold more than one million copies. That is a career for many bands.

Green River is a remarkable achievement. If it is not in your collection, then get it right now. You've lived too much of your life without it already.

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