I have to confess, even though I have lived through one previous incarnation of the Pet Shop Boys, I’ve never been what you would describe as a fan of their music. All that said, their electronic warbling has never particularly offended me either.
With that lack of offence in their favour, when my dear old friend Kim at Fresh Independence called me and asked me if I would review the Pet Shop Boys Latest album I felt somewhat duty bound to rise to thechallenge.
So, after slipping a copy of the ‘Shoppers’ playlist into my car’s stereo,dressed as an Archbishop, complete with staff and mitre,I set off on the three and half hour journey to the Lake District and my brothers 50th birthday party.Settling back into the drivers seat with my mitre tilted at an angle just jaunty enough to squeeze into the space between head an sunroof, I turned the keys, applied pedal ‘A’ and pressed the play button.
John Fogerty’s memoir “ Fortunate Son” By Doug Hall
“The sound of it! Like a bolt to the brain.” …. A recollection of the first time he heard a song and it stuck – at 5 years old – still clear for the songwriter on his 70th birthday. And still clear to me or any other fan is the memory of the first time we heard that hungry bellow, “Cause Your Miiiine !!” or surging chant “Heey-AH To-night!!” or other “utterances” unique to this man’s voice. He is the maker of his own distinct anthology, a country rock-in’, mystical, deep-rooted Americana sound that takes us right there in “Proud Mary” “Green River” “Born on the Bayou” “Up Around the Bend” or “Bad Moon Rising.” We can thank the timelessness of John Fogerty, and hear his vocals shake us and the songwriting put us into the backwoods, running scared or foreboding a night or chasing a riverboat dream. With all these places he takes us, Fogerty becomes a true chronicler of his own creation – of the swampy, dark, reckoning and challenge of human fortitude and then reversing the tempo in the very next tune to an upbeat – foot-stompin’, country-flavored rock and blues cut, with intro guitar riffs and vocal twang and grammar (“Chooglin”, “Bye-You”, Boy-Nin”) – all a part of his indelible sound and signature.
Finally, in his own words, Fogerty has written a telling memoir, “Fortunate Son.” Taking us on this journey, we hear about the songsmith’s world, built with these ballads and lyrics so familiar to several generations going forward. As importantly, he lets us inside his studio and shares the creative process that led to so many remarkable albums with his band Creedence Clearwater Revival (notably 3 of which, Bayou Country, Green River and Willie and the Poor Boys, outsold the Beatles in 1969 with 5 hit singles). Later, after the tumultuous break-up of his band in 1972, and fighting un-ending legal battles for ownership of his own songs and frivolous lawsuits against the integrity of his compositions, he would then spiral down a very dark hole. Fighting a wall of writer’s block induced by anger and frustration with loss of ownership of his own material from CCR, Fogerty, by his own candid admission, would nearly self-destruct.
Only by following an intuition and pilgrimage, back to the sounds, smell and feel of the Mississippi south and its blues roots, did he eventually struggle with his own soul and find his creative vein again. Searching out the origins of black blues musicians he so respected, even visiting the gravesite of Robert Johnson, Fogerty found a new will. These struggles with his own internal demons and legal circumstances, and fight to maintain his high musical standards finally produced a Grammy award-winning album in 1998, Blue Moon Swamp, after 5 years of exhaustive studio work.
He also found love again in the midst of his near miss with recovery. Julie Fogerty became his confident, supporter, counselor and best friend – and they started a new family together. There are wonderful moments in this memoir, recounting their special bond and love for one another. Through a long process of pain and eventual success in his post CCR period, she helped him find his way back and enjoy a re-birth of his professional musical life.
These are the bookends of a career, that hold in between them an amazing story of a school band to chart topping success, and the fall afterwards of betrayal and debt, and final redemption of a kind that rings true to one of Fogerty’s own heartbreak and deliverance songs. The story is a road travelled, long with no easy exits or turnarounds. A foreboding American tale also about the recording industry, the musician and his art, all told with absolute frankness and detail revealing the true nature and backbone of a remarkable songwriter and performer.
~~~~~~~~ The best part of what we do is meeting inspiring people like writer Doug Hall. His contributions are a blessing and bright light to Fresh Independence. Meet Doug… My lifelong passion for writing and literature (which are wed to each other) continues to stay active, with art and cultural freelance writing assignments for on-line entertainment web sites. Home has been New England, Rocky Mountains, and London and lots of places travelled through books and points of view. (publishing in lazysundaymag.com and bubbobar.com ) “Creativity is a continual surprise.” ― Ray Bradbury
Music has the ability to reach out and touch us in ways we never expected. Just as Bob Dylan shares the ebb and flow of his life through song, so too does London’ s own Ben Holland. He brings a genuine sincerity to his work and gives your restless heart a soft place to rest it’s weary head.
Home is where your story begins… please tell us a little about yours.
I was born in Carlisle, north west England. I went to school there and had my first few jobs there- but I knew I needed to be in London to do what I do, so I now live South of the river near Camberwell. I like London a lot and don’t see myself moving anytime soon.
When did music find you?
Bob Dylan’s to blame. I heard his music and wanted to learn it. I learned about two hundred of his songs then began to write my own.
As the week winds down we reflect on the past, live in the moment, and prepare for the next.
Be it through music, this IS the soundtrack to our life.
So many decisions in life and in the music we love can come down to a critical tug between the logic in our heads and the hot red blood beating through our hearts. Seattle’s The Head and the Heart live authentically in that crux, finding joy and beauty wedged there. Their music pulses effervescently—both explosively danceable and intuitively intelligent. With Americana roots and strong vocal harmonics that swell like a river, this band finds its anchor in solid songwriting that has even the jaded humming along by the second listen.