A memoir by the Creedence Clearwater Revival founder and writer of canonical 1960s songs such as “Proud Mary” and “Down on the Corner.”
Sensitive readers will cringe from the beginning, when Fogerty, that great exponent of gritty swamp rock though a child of the Bay Area, hazards that the fact that he had a black babydoll as an infant “predisposed me to love black music, black culture,” while a beloved recording of “Camptown Races” predisposed him to imagine himself a Southerner just as Stephen Foster, a native of Pittsburgh, did. Certainly the poverty of his childhood gave the author authentic working-class credentials, though he became a working musician as a teenager and hit stardom early on. Fogerty’s account of that ascent is full of previously aired grudges against Fantasy Records head Saul Zaentz, who locked him into a punishing contract that he admittedly didn’t read. He doesn’t have a lot of good to say about his former band mates, either; he grumbles that they were suing him over trademark issues even as he was wrapping up this book. One wishes better of Fogerty, who’s written so many enduring songs but whose best moments here are in the fannish geekdom of 45 records and guitar heroes—even if some of the worst moments are tossed-off assessments of his own contemporary favorites. On Brad Paisley: “He is obviously one of the most talented guitar players that has ever lived.” On Bruce Springsteen: “A really great guy.” The least satisfying moments are when Fogerty turns over authorship to his wife, Julie, who may have saved him from addiction but who can’t quite redeem this book. “I try and have him be in the moment,” she writes blandly, “unrehearsed and wonderfully him.” The effort, joint and individual, is obviously well-intentioned, but the book is largely unrevealing, a pale shadow compared to, say, Keith Richards’ Life (2010) or Neil Young’s Waging Heavy Peace (2012).
Fogerty has had better luck than most, but overall, this is an unfortunate autobiography.