Ringo said something along those lines in Hard Day’s Night, and I was a firm believer in the idea. But I kind of got out of the habit of reading anything other than web pages, until mid-year last year, since which I’ve read several non-fiction works.
My current reads include two relating to The Music: “Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music” by John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and “Anatomy of a Song” byMarc Myers. And I have another one in mind when I finish one or both of them.
I’m about half-way through the Fogerty autobiography, and am somewhat confident I can make it to the end. The CCR frontman — and he continually reminds you that he WAS the frontman — spends a lot of time preemptively score-settling, even before the narrative timeline gets to the point where his rock and roll juggernaut went off the rails.
In that area, Fogerty is somewhat reminiscent of ex-Pink Floydster Roger Waters, who left the group and then bitched about those who carried on getting rich off “his” songs. But at least Waters doesn’t blame one of his former bandmates for not having their record-company contract reviewed by his lawyer father.
Nor does Waters claim that he shared songwriting credit with his bandmates out of the goodness of his heart. It will be interesting to see what Fogerty has to say when the narrative gets to what he refers to as “the mutiny,” which broke up the band only five years after it stormed to national stardom.
Fogerty is also positively Mr. Chatty Cathy, babbling on about what seems like trivia, but perhaps may later be revealed as relevant. There is a co-writer credited on the book cover — but if that dude is a professional, consideration perhaps should be given to revoking his poetic license. Or at least restrict his/their use of the exclamation point.
Fogerty’s rationalizations for starving himself so that he could get out of the Army Reserves, which it seems he joined to avoid being drafted — effectively equating himself with a draft dodger, and then claiming some sort of bond with those who did serve in Vietnam — are pretty tiresome. So are his cartoon-cutout theories about the “why” of that Godforsaken war; “they done it so capitalists could get rich” would make a good bumper sticker — or, come to think of it, an all-too-obvious song lyric.
All of the above will make it hard to hang with the rest of Fogerty’s life story. But I will give it a chance, because CCR did make some great music, and the author also has done some great things on his own. I’m just hoping that he will back off the “I was robbed” and “I was the brains of the operation” themes.
I’ve just scratched the surface of the Myers book, a compilation of columns penned by a Wall Street Journal writer and music historian. Each “chapter” takes an important song from the rock and roll canon, or one that influenced the same, and breaks it down with analysis and commentary from those involved in making it.
I thought it would be a book where I could just pick and choose columns, and jump around amongst them, but there is a historical thread to the pieces, tracing the development of rock, so I think I will read them in order. If, for no other reason, to figure out why Myers chose the songs he did — they’re not all obvious. Still, I think it’s going to be a fun read.
Another rock-related book I plan to get, and think I will enjoy, is “Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story” by Roger Daltry. I heard the Who lead singer co-host Ron and Gail Bennington’s Deep Tracks GPS show on SiriusXM — each episode of that program focuses on a city important of rock, in that case London during the Mod-Rocker period — and it sounds like he is indeed grateful (an impression confirmed by a review I read). Daltry talks about his childhood growing up in post-World War II England, and how it affected his life and musical career. Somehow, I don’t think John Fogerty would laugh as much as the Who vocalist, if put in the same situation.