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Declaring that it “may be the best thing I’ve ever done,” John Fogerty hosted an intimate playback of his forthcoming duets album, “Wrote A Song For Everyone,” Thursday (Feb. 20) afternoon for about three dozen journalists and radio programmers.
The set, out May 28 (Fogerty’s 68th birthday), features the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer performing Creedence Clearwater Revival and solo songs with Foo Fighters, Jennifer Hudson, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, My Morning Jacket, Brad Paisley, Kid Rock and Bob Seger among others.
Nestled among the classics are two new songs, “Mystic Highway” and “Train Of Fools.”
Seated on the state of the premiere Los Angeles singer/songwriter club Hotel Cafe, Fogerty went through each song with journalist David Wild, talking about either the song’s creation or the new recording.
The idea for the collaboration came from Fogerty’s wife of nearly 22 years, Julie. “She said why don’t we get a bunch of your friends you really like and sing a bunch of your songs, and I thought, ‘Christmas!’” He cringed at the thought of calling it the obvious, such as “Duets,” and, once again, Julie came to the rescue and suggested “Wrote A Song For Everyone,” the title of a song from 1969’s CCR album, “Green River.”
The album kicks off with a full-throttled version of “Fortunate Son” with Foo Fighter Dave Grohl and Fogerty trading guitar solos. Miranda Lambert, who performs “Travelin’ Band” in her show, joined him for “Wrote A Song For Everyone.” Fogerty heard Lambert’s voice on the radio before he knew who she was. “I didn’t know who she was... I just knew I loved that voice,” he says. Lambert responded “hell, yeah,” when asked. After recording their parts, Lambert told him she thought the song needed a “face-melting guitar solo.” “I thought ‘I’ll do a solo like Tom Morello’ went through my mind for a nano-second. Then I thought, ‘No, we’ll get Tom Morello’.” And so they did.
In addition to Lambert, the album emphasizes the deep country roots that have always run through CCR and his solo music by such pairings as Keith Urban, Zac Brown Band, Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson. Among the top tracks is “Hot Rod Heart,” a guitar shoot-out with Paisley that leaves the listener breathless. “Brad is probably one of the greatest guitarists who ever lived,” Fogerty says. “Brad is my idol as far as playing Telecaster.”
Zac Brown Band turns “Bad Moon Rising” into a jubilant, fiddle-fueled outing, and is one of only two tracks recorded without Fogerty in the studio at the same time as the guest the artist. The other Fogerty’s pairing with Kid Rock for a funked up “Born on the Bayou.”
One of the most striking tunes is “Long As I Can See The Light” with My Morning Jacket, where Fogerty let the jam band do its thing. “I was the observant ringmaster,” he says. Jim James delivers an inspired vocal on the track that sounds like CCR crossed with The Band.
The most touching song on the album is “Someday Never Comes,” a tune Fogerty wrote about having to tell his young children about his divorce from his first wife, which is also informed by his memory of his father having the same talk with him when his parents divorced. Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith takes a tender approach to the vocals, with Fogerty as the older wiser voice. Then Taylor and his brother Griffin sing the last verse.
The best blend of both artists’ styles is on “Who’ll Stop the Rain” with Bob Seger. Seger originally planned to follow the original, but when the two were in the studio, Fogerty overheard Seger playing the tune on acoustic guitar and singing softly and encouraged him to follow that path. The song feels like a mash-up of “Rain,” “Night Moves,” and Seger’s cover of Rodney Crowell’s “Shame on the Moon.”
The album closes with a complete reinvention of “Proud Mary” featuring Jennifer Hudson on vocals. She planned to replicate Tina Turner’s version, and she starts the tune that way, but then it kicks into a New Orleans-style, Zydeco-leaning re-imaging of the tune with horns and accordion. Also featured on the track, which was recording in New Orleans, are Allen Toussaint and the Rebirth Brass Band.
Fogerty closed the event the way it started with "Fortunate Song," this time playing it solo, seated on a stool with his fuzzy guitar filling every corner of the small club.
With the right push, it’s easy to see the album taking on a life of its own, like Lionel Richie’s similarly-themed “Tuskegee.” Country radio should gravitate toward the Zac Brown Band track and rock radio could grab “Fortunate Son.”
1. Fortunate Son (with Foo Fighters)
2. Almost Saturday Night (with Keith Urban)
3. Lodi (with Shane Fogerty and Tyler Fogerty)
4. Mystic Highway (John Fogerty solo)
5. Wrote a Song for Everyone (with Miranda Lambert feat. Tom Morello)
6. Bad Moon Rising (with Zac Brown Band)
7. Long As I Can See the Light (with My Morning Jacket)
8. Born on the Bayou (with Kid Rock)
9. Train of Fools (John Fogerty solo)
10. Someday Never Comes (with Dawes)
11. Who'll Stop the Rain (with Bob Seger)
12. Hot Rod Heart (with Brad Paisley)
13. Have You Ever Seen the Rain (with Alan Jackson)
14. Proud Mary (with Jennifer Hudson feat. Allen Toussaint and the Rebirth Brass Band)