Thursday, February 17, 2011

Creedence Clearwater Revival -- "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" (1970)

I know that a man ain't supposed to cry, 
But these tears I can't hold inside
Losin' you would end my life, you see
'Cause you mean that much to me
You could have told me yourself
That you love someone else 
Instead I heard it through the grapevine

If I had to pick one band as the personification of rock music, American-style, I would pick Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Here's what the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame says about Creedence:
Creedence Clearwater Revival . . . were progressive and anachronistic at the same time.  An unapologetic throwback to the golden era of rock and roll . . . [t]heir approach was basic and uncompromising, holding true to the band members’ working-class origins.

The term "roots rock" had not yet been invented when Creedence came along, but in a real way they defined it, drawing inspiration from the likes of Little Richard, Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and the artisans of soul at Motown and Stax.  In so doing, Creedence Clearwater Revival became the standard bearers and foremost celebrants of homegrown American music. 

"I Heard It Through The Grapevine" had been a huge hit -- not once, but twice -- for Motown artists.

But that didn't scare off CCR.  Their version of "Grapevine" was released on the Cosmo's Factory album in July 1970.  That was only about 18 months after Marvin Gaye's version of the song had been #1.

Creedence's version of the song -- which is one of the few cover versions of a great song that is equally great -- is eleven minutes long.  I'd be happy if it was an hour long.  It has the no-frills feel of a live performance -- compared to the Motown versions, it's a white T-shirt and a pair of blue jeans.

By the way, did you know that CCR performed at Woodstock?  Thanks to the Grateful Dead's endless jamming, Creedence didn't take the stage until 3 AM.  CCR frontman John Fogerty thought their performance wasn't up to snuff, so they are missing from the movie and the original soundtrack album.  (The 25th-anniversary Woodstock box set does include six CCR songs.)

Creedence Clearwater Revival at Woodstock

One other odd fact that somehow seems to fit Creedence, which I think never got the respect it deserved:  the band never had a #1 hit, but had five #2 singles.

Here's CCR's "Grapevine":

Here's a link you can use to buy the song from iTunes:

I Heard It Through the Grapevine - Cosmo's Factory (40th Anniversary Edition) [Remastered]

Here's a link you can use to buy it from Amazon:


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