The former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman talks about "vindication" and a solo hit from 1985.
When John Fogerty visited Soundcheck, he was midway through a two-night stand at the Beacon Theatre. He talked about playing a classic Creedence Clearwater Revival album in its entirety at each show (first "Cosmo's Factory," then "Green River"). And, he told us about meeting one of his early musical heroes, Pete Seeger, at the tender age of nine.
Fogerty also spoke about a dark period in his life that followed the bitter breakup of CCR in 1972. After a long legal struggle with Fantasy Records and its owner, Saul Zaentz, he'd ceded the rights to his own songs and just didn't feel up to performing in public.
"I got tied up in my own emotions, you might say, for the longest time. It was about 25 years," Fogerty told Soundcheck host John Schaefer. "Eventually, I met my wife Julie. She really caused the transformation in me."
Chart success also played a role in Fogerty's return to form. His third solo album, "Centerfield," went to No. 1 on Billboard's album chart in 1985. It also spawned a couple of big hits, the ballpark favorite "Centerfield" and a deeply personal song called "Old Man Down the Road."
Schaefer asked Fogerty if "Old Man Down the Road" was about spending so many years in the musical wilderness during his epic legal battle.
"I was just kind of talking about that evilness – and perhaps even that evil person," Fogerty said. "It tells a story about a guy standing in your way with a suitcase covered with rattlesnake hide, eyes as black as coal, that sort of thing."
He recalled the first time he heard the song on the radio. "I’m driving down the road, the same freeway that I’ve driven many, many, many times. It connects El Cerrito [California] to Berkeley -- I live in El Cerrito, and the Fantasy Records building is in Berkeley. I’m driving down the road, the same freeway that I’ve driven many, many, many times. It connects El Cerrito [California] to Berkeley -- I live in El Cerrito, and the Fantasy Records building is in Berkeley. I’m driving along the Bayshore Freeway there, and 'Old Man Down the Road' comes on the radio as I’m driving. I mean, this is like within the first week of it being out, and I’m overjoyed. And I actually said [shouting] 'Take that, you old man!'"
Fogerty took a moment to find the right word: "There was a bit of vindication in all of that."