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Interview:
John Fogerty created a "little family band" out of pandemic quarantine
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

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John Fogerty discovered that "there's nothing like family during a crisis" this year.



For the Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, the COVID-19 pandemic gave birth to Fogerty's Factory, a "little family band" with sons Shane, a regular member of his tour band, and Tyler and daughter Kelsy. Starting during the spring, the quartet began a weekly YouTube series covering CCR and Fogerty songs including a rendition of "Centerfield" taped on Fogerty's 75th birthday, May 28 in center field at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles that led to an NPR Tiny Desk concert and a SiriusXM radio special.



Now it's resulted in a "Fogerty's Factory" album, a 12-song set whose cover re-creates the front of 1970's acclaimed "Cosmo's Factory" by CCR. And while Fogerty's in pandemic drydock like so many of his peers, he's both happy and surprised to have an album to show for a year of enforced hiatus.



"I never foresaw this coming especially, let's say, in a professional way," he says by phone from his home in southern California. "It was so much fun, and what it's got going for it is it's so innocent. The thing is so unpretentious, and we're just having fun. It's like a campfire sing or something like that. It isn't like, 'Well, one day we're gonna play Madison Square Garden.'



"It's just something we enjoy doing, and people seem to enjoy it, too."



Fogerty gives full credit to his wife and co-manager, Julie, for Fogerty's Factory. "When the lockdown came all those months ago, one of the first things that Julie said to me was, 'It'd be great if you recorded 'Have You Ever Seen the Rain' and posted it' or something like that and I looked at her and kind of scratched my head, 'Why do I want to do something like that? There's all kinds of recordings of me doing that song.'" Fogerty recalls with a laugh. "She saw everything a little different than me; She said, 'I think I would be healing.'



"So she talked me into it, and I must say the result was really cool and it was a nice touch that our dog was in there with me." The video premiered on April 24, and Fogerty adds that, "I thought, 'OK, my work here is done' and I was ready to go back into lockdown, and a little while later she asked me to do another one, and about the third one she said, 'Why don't you get the kinds involved?'"



It was, in the end, neither a stretch nor a vanity project. In addition to playing in their father's band, Shane, 28, and Tyler, 27, have their own group, Hearty Har, which will release a debut album during 2021. And Fogerty was helping Kelsy, 18, as her guitar playing moved from acoustic finger-picking to electric; She also took up drums.



"I've never really pushed myself on the kids," Fogerty notes, "but when they got to the right point there were things I could do and show 'em to help out."



"It's been fun," Shane Fogerty says. "We kinda just did one pretty low-budget, low-key, just with an iPhone. And then people started getting into it. It slowly became, like, a thing." Tyler Fogerty adds that, "I guess it shows you something that stars from nothing, just such a little thought, can have such a big impact. That's really cool."



All of the Fogertys agree that the Dodger Stadium performance of "Centerfield" has been a special moment during the process and has become even moreso since the Dodgers, who the Fogerty children grew up rooting for, won this year's World Series.



"The whole thing is really neat in a human way," says dad Fogerty, who grew up a fan of the New York Yankees and later the San Francisco Giants and Oakland Athletics. "Just walking around the stadium and seeing statues and mentions of (Sandy) Koufax and (Don) Drysdale and (Bert) Campaneris, Maury Wills, Vin Scully ... it was quite magical. And then playing with my family on the field, they knocked it out of the park. They played really well.



"There's something to be said about being out in the air and just letting it all hang out, playing a song and having fun. It happened to be my birthday, and I was there with my family. It's one I'll always remember."



The "Fogerty's Factory" album also features a selection of cover songs, including Arlo Guthrie's "City of New Orleans" and Bill Withers' "Lean on Me," the latter with a preamble by Fogerty talking about this year's civil unrest and civil rights demonstrations, which he also saw take place during the 60s.



"One of the joys about getting older, even though you may think you're as stupid as a log, is the fact that you've been around this world for seven decades and there's inherent experience and, dare I say, insight about things that younger people may not be able to verbalize yet," Fogerty explains. "That (song) was sort of my family's way of voicing our intent and our emotions as far as support for Black Lives Matter and civil rights and equality for all in our country."



Another charged moment from the album is "Fortunate Son," a 1969 protest song about privilege during the Vietnam War-era military draft that Donald Trump began using as a theme song during this year's presidential campaign to the point that Fogerty, an Army Reserve veteran, issued a cease-and-desist order that went unheeded by the president.



"The first time I heard about it, of course, I kinda went, 'Huh? Hasn't heard what the song's about?' Fogerty recalls. "That all kind of blew up on social media, too. Everybody knew it. But he kept doing it after that. I've never known another president, or anybody in this country, like that. ... He looks straight at the camera and tells you a bald-face lie or changes what he just said yesterday into a new reality. It's mind-boggling."



Fogerty is confident there will be more from Fogerty's Factory, as well as new original music in the future. But for now he's hoping the "Fogerty's Family" album will offer listeners the same kind of solace he and his children got from making the music together.



"Y'know, everybody's in lockdown to some degree or another all of us who want to be safe, at least," Fogerty says. "You have to make due with what's right there in your home. That was kind of the mindset for this little family band. It was challenging but fun, and also kind of heartwarming. I think everybody out there understands that premise, 'Well, this is what we're gonna do with the cards that have been dealt to us here. We're trying to do the best with the hands that we have.'



"I think that's the same thing so many people are doing. So hopefully it's a refreshing, uplifting and joyful thing, especially in the midst of all the heavy emotions we're experiencing in our country well, really, around the world. This is just innocent and simple, and hopefully something to enjoy."

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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