John Fogerty

John Fogerty

Happy birthday

May 28, 1945

John Fogerty
photo: bluejayblog

Proud Mary

I guess “Proud Mary” was the first time I heard Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was pretty good. Straight-forward rock with a taste of, I didn’t realize then, bayou.

I also didn’t know who Creedence Clearwater Revival was: Stu Cook, Tom Fogerty, Doug Clifford, and John Fogerty. The band’s name was confusing, but less so that any Dylan lyric, so I was ahead of the game.

While Creedence was the sum of its parts, those songs, the catchy song after catchy song, was from John Fogerty.

California beginnings

John and his older brother Tom Fogerty grew up in El Cerrito, California, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

At first the four friends were the Blue Velvets but became the Golliwogs when they signed with Fantasy Records, mainly a jazz label. Their singles fared poorly.

After a stint in the Army Reserve, the four band mates became Creedence Clearwater Revival. And as if John had gone down to the crossroads, suddenly a spate of songs came forth.

An abundance of hits

  • Susie Q
  • Proud Mary
  • Born on the Bayou
  • Bad Moon Rising
  • Lodi
  • Green River
  • Commotion
  • Down on the Corner
  • Fortunate Son
  • Travelin’ Band
  • Who’ll Stop the Rain
  • Up Around the Bend
  • Run Through the Jungle
  • Lookin’ Out My Back Door
  • Long as I Can See the Light
  • Have You Ever Seen the Rain


Despite John Fogerty’s sense that their performance at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was below par due to a sleepy audience, I for one can say that my sense is the opposite and when asked “Who was your favorite at Woodstock?” my somewhat evasive answer is “I went home and bought Creedence.”

CCR’s Nantucket sleighride lasted until 1971 when brother Tom left the band. There are many stories why Tom left; generally it seems that John’s larger than life influence on the band, its music, its direction, and its performance was more than Tom could take.

CCR’s last album, Mardi Gras, did well but comparatively poorly. Stu Cook and Doug Clifford left and CCR was over.

John Fogerty

John continued in a sometimes sporadic way. He released an album as the Blue Ridge Rangers, but there were no rangers. It was only John. Subsequent albums were simply under his name.

Legal issues with Fantasy Records limited his production. It wasn’t until he settled that issue, much to Fantasy Records benefit and his loss, that he was able to move forward.

In 1985 he released the album Centerfield and it became a huge hit.

Brother Tom died in 1990 and CCR was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. John Fogerty did not perform with his former band mates.

John Fogerty continues to write and perform today [site].

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Released May 27, 1963
Freewheelin Bob Dylan
photo by Don Hunstein
“I’ll let you be in my dream, if you let me be in yours.”

Now we all know Bob Dylan. We have heard the songs on his first album, Bob Dylan. We may know that he only wrote two of that album’s 13 songs: “Talkin’ New York” and “Song to Woody.”  His premier album an iconic moment in American history

We didn’t realize it at the time. We probably didn’t buy it either. The album sold about 2,500 copies its first year.

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Times Changed

The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan changed that story. Other than “Corina Corina,” Dylan wrote all its songs and as funny as “Talkin’ New York” may have been and as touching “Song to Woody” was,  Freewheelin’  showed Dylan’s genius blooming.

The album, produced by John H Hammond, has a minimalist sound that concentrates our listening to Dylan’s lyrics. To note the personnel is important nonetheless:

  • Bob Dylan – guitar, harmonica, keyboards, vocals
  • Howie Collins – guitar
  • Leonard Gaskin – bass guitar
  • Bruce Langhorne – guitar
  • Herb Lovelle – drums
  • Dick Wellstood – piano

Each of these musicians deserve separate recognition. A personal favorite is Bruce Langhorne, the inspiration for Dylan’s “Mr Tambourine Man.”  (follow above link)

Freewheelin Bob Dylan


Side One

  1. Blowin’ In the Wind
  2. Girl from the North Country
  3. Masters of War
  4. Down the Highway
  5. Bob Dyan’s Blues
  6. A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall
Side 2

  1. Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
  2. Bob Dylan’s Dream
  3. Oxford Town
  4. Talkin’ World War III Blues
  5. Corrina, Corrina
  6. Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance
  7. I Shall Be Free
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Don Hunstein

As memorable as each of the album’s songs is, Don Hunstein‘s cover photo is equally so. Hunstein first began as an amateur photographer while in the Air Force and stationed in Europe. His interest became a hobby and after returning to the US and living in New York City, his hobby became a profession. As with so much in life, his timing was serendipitous.

Rock and roll was in a growth spurt and Hunstein landed a job at Columbia Records. Also lucky for Hunstein, Columbia recognized Hunstein’s talent and had him take pictures not just for albums, but of artists while recording. In their casual most human moments.

That is what he re-created for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan. Though posed, the photo presents Dylan and Suze Rotolo, his then girlfriend, as if in a candid moment.

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
another photo that same day also by Don Hunstein
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Suze’s Take

In a 2008 NY Times article, Rotolo said of the photo, “He wore a very thin jacket, because image was all. Our apartment was always cold, so I had a sweater on, plus I borrowed one of his big, bulky sweaters. On top of that I put a coat. So I felt like an Italian sausage. Every time I look at that picture, I think I look fat.”

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
photos by Don Hunstein
Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Temporary change

Freewheelin’ was more than a moment. It was a prediction. Dylan would record two more albums in its style before going rogue in 1965 and quitting work on Maggie’s farm. That choice changed the American music scene as much as any single event in the history of American music and in many cases, 20th century Western civilization.

Though Dylan may have been referring to the human tendency toward violence when he sang…

How many roads must a man walk down
Before you call him a man?

Freewheelin Bob Dylan
Pro and Con

The words turned out to be a prediction of Dylan’s change of artistic direction. Many fans hated 1965 because of that change.

Decades later, we can list dozens of songs we’d not have with us if it weren’t for that change and Dylan’s freewheelin’ attitude.

As Stephen Thomas Eriwine writes in his All Music reviewIt’s hard to overestimate the importance of The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, the record that firmly established Dylan as an unparalleled songwriter, one of considerable skill, imagination, and vision. 

Freewheelin Bob Dylan

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

Happy Birthday
Remembering and Appreciating
May 26, 1940 — April 19, 2012

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

Mark Lavon Levon Helm


My memory is vague concerning how I first heard about the Band. I certainly did not know that they were Bob Dylan’s back up band. I just as certainly did not know they were mostly Canadian musicians, except one guy.

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

Music From Big Pink

I presume  I first heard about Music From Big Pink from Rolling Stone magazine.  If I did,  then I did read about the Dylan and Canadian connections. I definitely would have noticed that Al Kooper wrote the review. that “You can believe every line in this album and if you choose to, it can only elevate your listening pleasure immeasurably,  and that he said it was his album of the year.

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

Staten Island Ferry

I sat on the Staten Island Ferry after working as a Wall Street runner at Dempsey – Tegeler where I  had learned the quickest route from 110 Wall Street to the Chase Bank in the rain. I sat on the ferry cuddling Music from Big Pink.  If Kooper, the mainspring of the Blues Project [a source of several epiphanies) and Blood, Sweat and Tears  [Child Is Father to the Man] said The Band were It, then Amen.

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

Mono Greatness

My little mono record player was literally that and could not even dream in Hi-Fi, but it gave its all. And I listened.

What was this? Not rock. Not blues. At least not any rock or blues that I’d ever heard. Deliberate, its songs required patience that this 18 year old lacked.

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

The Band

With time and their second album I fell under the Band’s spell. Little did I realize that Levon Helm, Garth Hudson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel, and Robbie Robertson repeatedly proved the point of their music being greater than the sum of their parts. Not even the Beatles were as instrumentally multi-talented as The Band.

When the original Band ended it’s run in 1977, a run longer than the Beatles had had, fans hoped that it was simply a postponement, not a cancellation.

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

Lifer Levon

It was and it wasn’t. Levon Helm certainly kept on playing music. Thank you! The others did, too, but Levon in particular remained the source of that sound I had, at first, not understood.

Mark Lavon Levon Helm

Better late than…

Now I get it. Now I want it. And Levon, despite many challenges, kept pace, and kept the faith. With a partially re-formed Band and without. On his own. With a voice and sometimes without one. His credits cover a lifetime of sincere and truthful music. (All Music credits)

And what Al Kooper said in 1968 about Big Pink, was true about Levon Helm until the day he died:  [His] singing is…honest and unaffected….There are people who will work their lives away in vain and not touch it.

Excerpt from PBS Special “Levon Helm Ramble At The Ryman” premiered nationwide on August 2009. Featuring John Hiatt, Sheryl Crow, Buddy Miller, Sam Bush. Levon Helm brough his Midnight Ramble to the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN.

Mark Lavon Levon Helm