JOHN FOGERTY PRESSEBERICHTE 2004
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS
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q: Well John, tell us about the new CD Déjà Vu. I know you’re excited about -- it’s got some great new songs on it. So, I’d like to hear it in your own words.
a: Well there are ten songs. The title track is called “Déjà Vu (All Over Again).” It’s a- hmm, how would I categorize that? I love the song. It is a song about the sorrow of war as far as I’m concerned, and I sing this song to families. It’s really not taking a political position. Another song on the album I wrote for my wife Julie. It’s called “Sugar Sugar.” I kind of had subconsciously borrowed that from her. She grew up saying that with her grandpa really, “Come here and give me some sugar.” Somehow it came out of me years later the way I wrote this song. Well there is certainly one big highlight for me; I’ve written a song for my daughter Kelsey who when I started this song really was only six months old or less; therefore she obviously wasn’t walking, but the song is called “I Will Walk With You,” and it’s basically the story of a dad’s love for his daughter -- newborn daughter.
q: Well it comes from the heart, and that leads me to my next question -- when you write songs, and you’ve been writing songs for over fifty years now, where do your songs come from, and is it a painful, time-consuming process when you write or do you just get hit with a sudden inspiration and wake up in the middle of the night or on the bus and it just flows?
a: Number one: waking up on the bus is a scary thought so don’t take me there. Writing songs for over fifty years that’s also a scary thought and it’s true. I started when I was in grammar school really- probably was second grade. The songs actually come in a variety of ways; it’s not like just one way. “Déjà Vu” was one of those songs that came as a spiritual message. I mean, there was a voice — something, somebody was trying to get through. Other songs are a lot of hard work. I hate to say it that way cause when you finally get it done and it’s right, then there is no euphoria on earth that is better than being with your family. I mean completing something when it’s a struggle and then knowing that it’s good — something just kind of snaps into place. Or at least those times when it does, it’s great. It’s the greatest feeling. The times when it won’t snap into place you feel like an utter failure and an idiot. Really I’m there more than in euphoria. I think I fail a lot as a songwriter. Hopefully you don’t get to hear those, but it is just a struggle. I’m darned if I know why I keep trying. I guess to get the euphoria part. Like I say, the songs get completed in a lot of different ways for me.
q: Well don’t quit trying whatever you do because the rest of us are enjoying all of your work including your new songs that you keep writing over the years. I know you’ve had the typical roller-coaster ride in your musical career I guess like people have had in whatever career or just part of life. But you seem, from what I can tell, to just still be having a great time doing it whether it’s recording music or getting out there on stage. Are there times it seems more work than fun? Or does it get a little tedious at times maybe like at the end of a long haul on the road? What is it about it that you still enjoy after all these years?
a: Well I’m very lucky. Where I’m at right now in my life, meaning musically and in my personal life, it’s the best it’s ever been. I’m very fortunate that God let me survive this long, but also that somewhere back there about fifteen years ago or so I really got inspired by Jerry Douglas to put a personality in it. I realize that I didn’t feel that I had done what I promised I was gonna do when I was about fourteen, which was to get really good on the guitar, and it just scared me. It was one of those things, “Oh darn! I meant to do that!” So I got busy and went to work. I had no idea it would take this long. I actually haven’t arrived yet. I was having a little story today with Jerry. But I’m pretty darn close and I feel real good about that. I’m lucky that there’s enough time in life that you can make a few mistakes, a couple of missed turns and still like make up for it. So I’m happy that -- what’s the word --that I’m pleasing myself with my own musical ability and also with the writing. But it’s come together very nicely with my family life. My wife Julie takes great care of me. She’s very involved and supports me and loves what I do, and the kids do too. So it’s not like a Jekyll and Hyde existence. It’s all one life with everything- each facet supporting the other facets.
q: What you were saying about guitar is another example that it’s never too late to try to learn something new or to improve on something you’ve been doing your whole life.
a: I took up the dobro at the age of 48- not that I’m anywhere near Jerry, but you can start at anytime and just very quickly start getting that rewarding feeling.
q: Jerry Douglass can be very intimidating when he picks up that dobro. It’s like, “Whoa. Don’t know if I’d even want to think about trying to get anywhere close to what he can do with that instrument.” He’s a magician in addition to a musician. I guess just one or two last questions: I consider you and I to be part of the same generation and I see artists half our age get out there onstage and sometimes they look like they’re just going through the motions. You seem to really thrive when you’re out there. You seem to be feeding off that energy from the crowd, and the crowd is feeling it coming off the stage from you, and you’re not content to just stand there and sing and play guitar. You’re all over the stage. You’re jumping up and down. What is it about that live performance experience that still seems to inspire you?
a: Well I can’t quite answer everything you asked or at least the — what the question implies. I will say that I made a promise to myself way, way back early on when I was seeing other artists and I made a promise to myself to never be halfhearted about music. I think there’s a certain trust your audience has with you and it’s up to you — in other words, give your best. You don’t go through the motions. You tap into whatever it is — that phone number to your heart that allows you to be totally sincere and give the very best that you can. It means a lot of focus. Sometimes there’s a lot of distractions — sometimes annoying distractions that are taking your attention away. But those people, especially when you’re in a live audience, they get it right away. I mean from the second you walk out — if you’re happy to be there and you’re aiming to please, which is what I always hope to do, then they came to see you. Nobody had to hold a gun to their head. They’re there on purpose because they came to see you. So they deserve to see your best.
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DEJA VU REVIEW, October 08, 2004 Eric Olsen
The great, ageless roots rocker John Fogerty — singer, songwriter, lead guitarist and producer of Creedence Clearwater Revival — is back with his most iconic album since the days of Creedence, as accessible as Centerfield but much more timely and pointed. On this one Fogerty makes it clear he has Something to Say.
Déjà Vu All Over Again, the album, opens with "Déjà Vu (All Over Again)," the song, an acoustic guitar and backbeat folk-rocker evocative sonically and thematically of his anti-Vietnam War classic "Who'll Stop the Rain," holding the current troubled times up to the mirror of our Southeast Asian adventure and finding disconcerting similarities:
"One by one I see the old ghosts rising
Stumblin' cross Big Muddy
Where the light gets dim
Day after day another Momma's crying
She's lost her precious child
To a war that has no end"
Once again, Fogerty wants the rain stopped. Though undeniably political and topical, Fogerty is the kind of artist who paints a picture universal enough to touch pro- and anti-war partisans alike: who cannot feel a parent's anguish at the loss of a child? Who doesn't feel the stab in their secret heart of war without a clear path to resolution?
After this cautionary rumination, Fogerty moves into a sprightly, infectious pop-rocker that draws equally from Southern soul and country to create an absolutely irresistible confection, "Sugar, Sugar," balancing the encroaching shadow of "Déjà Vu" with sweet light.
Fogerty and band — Kenny Aronoff on drums, Paul Bushnell bass — rip through riff-rocker "She's Got Baggage," and frankly, at his age who doesn't? not that you could tell from the youthful energy of the song or Fogerty's undiminished, inimitable voice. "Radar" returns Fogerty to his psychic ancestral home, the swampy South, for an organ and chanted singalong number worthy of the Sir Douglas Quintet.
Few rockers do country better than Fogerty, and "Honey Do" is up to his best standards, ruefully, but with obvious contentment and satisfaction, addressing the velvet thumb under which every happily married man has labored since before humans lost their body fur.
"Nobody's Here Anymore" shimmers with some exemplary signature Mark Knopfler guitar work — Creedence meets Dire Straits — the sound may be of a "Sultans of Swing" past, but the theme couldn't be more contemporary: the artificial electronic connectivity of the Internet, cell phones and iPods replacing real human contact, the illusion of interaction as a substitute for the real thing.
"Nobody's here any more
Nobody's minding the store
They've all gone
to another dimension
Nobody here anymore"
"I Wanna Walk With You" is as timeless as "Nobody's Here Anymore" is timely: a gnetle bluegrass-inflected love song to, I assume, the young daughter pictured on the back cover ("I will walk with you/Together we will share/Jelly beans and pink ice cream/A Christmas teddy bear") with Jerry Douglas on dobro, Bob Applebaum and Michael DeTemple on mandolins. By the end of the song, I challenge any man who has ever held his little girl to not shed one, at least inward, tear (between this and a similarly-themed, not-yet-released Sam Bisbee song I just heard, I'll never stop blubbering).
"In the Garden" wraps things up with heavy, drum-pounding, guitar-slinging, Are You Experienced style. Fogerty exhibits the energy of youth, the wisdom of age and the judgment to know the difference on this great, revitalizing album.
Eric Olsen is the publisher of Blogcritics.org
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