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10 Best Creedence Clearwater Revival Songs

Despite releasing their first album in 1968, Creedence Clearwater Revival weren’t hippies. Frontman John Fogerty represents blue-collar America, addressing working-class issues like the Vietnam War, while there’s a heartland warmth to their swampy rock. The band sounded like they came from the southern states, but were actually Californian.

Creedence Clearwater Revival are notable for their unlucky streak of reaching #2 on the US single charts on five different occasions without ever making the top spot. Putting their songs in a list, it’s noticeable how visceral they are. There’s always something moving in a Creedence song – rolling on the river, running through the jungle, or a bad moon rising. My theory is that they’re one of the most widely loved bands ever – tuneful and rocking, but without a hint of pretense.

It’s ridiculous how prolific the band were – these ten songs are drawn from the five (!) studio albums that CCR released in 1969 and 1970. Creedence Clearwater Revival have plenty of terrific singles, and you could easily make a great list with just their radio staples. My list of top ten Creedence songs is a mix of the big hits and some choice album tracks.

Ten of the Best Creedence Clearwater Revival Songs

#10 – Pagan Baby

from Pendulum, 1970
CCR’s sixth album Pendulum represented a break from the band’s usual swamp rock – the addition of organ gave some songs a more soulful sound. Opening track ‘Pagan Baby’, however, is a great riff-rocker that continues the sound of their previous records. It’s more abrasive than usual – the rhythm guitar part is electrifying, and Fogerty’s vocal is especially raw.


#9 – Ramble Tamble

from Cosmo’s Factory, 1970
Creedence Clearwater Revival’s fifth album, Cosmo’s Factory, is so jam-packed with great material that almost any song could have been a radio hit. The opener ‘Ramble Tamble’ adds a psychedelic haze to CCR’s swampy choogle, extending over seven minutes with a lengthy instrumental section. AV Club music journalist Steven Hyden later named ‘Ramble Tamble’ as “the most rockin’ song of all time”.


#8 – Wrote A Song For Everyone

from Green River, 1969
CCR’s third album Green River was still dominated by their chooglin’ swamp rock, but there were hints of diversity. ‘Lodi’ is folk-rock, while ‘Wrote a Song For Everyone’ echoes The Band’s ‘The Weight’. Fogerty writes about how striving for band success was causing domestic issues.

Inspired by my young wife at the time. It was early ’69, and I was 23 years old. We had our first child, who, at the time, was two and a half. I was sitting in my room, writing the songs, pushing my career. Without the songs, the career ends. You might be a great band, but without the songs, you’re not going anywhere. At one point, my wife and I had a mild misunderstanding, I wouldn’t even call it a fight, She was miffed, taking our young son out, wishing I would be more involved. But there I was, the musician, manic and possessed, the only guy holding things up. Without me, it all collapses, so I’m feeling quite put upon. As she walks out the door, I say to my self, “I wrote a song for everyone, and I couldn’t even talk to you.”

John Fogerty

#7 – Who’ll Stop The Rain

from Cosmo’s Factory, 1970
Creedence Clearwater Revival have two notable songs about rain, both concerning the Vietnam war. The three verses of ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ are each set in a different time period in America’s history – the third verse was inspired by CCR’s appearance at Woodstock. Each verse concludes with the question ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ – Fogerty later told Rolling Stone that “certainly, I was talking about Washington, when I wrote the song.”


#6 – Proud Mary

from Bayou Country, 1969
From Creedence Clearwater Revival’s second album, ‘Proud Mary’ was the band’s breakthrough hit. Fogerty wrote it two days after his discharge from the National Guard, and the lyrics about rolling in a river evoke a feeling of freedom. The unusual chord change from C to A in the intro was inspired by Beethoven’s 5th. ‘Proud Mary’ was the first of five CCR singles to reach #2 on the charts, and Ike and Tina Turner’s 1971 cover also reached #4.


#5 – It Came Out Of The Sky

from Willie and the Poor Boys, 1969
Another great song that could have served as a singlw, ‘It Came Out of the Sky’ is a fable about a UFO crashing in heartland America. It references prominent political figures – “Ronnie the popular” is then-Californian governor Ronald Reagan, while Spiro is Spiro Agnew. The combination of science fiction and country-rock is unusual.


#4 – Fortunate Son

from Willie and the Poor Boys, 1969
‘Fortunate Son’ was a protest song about class divides in the USA. Fogerty later said that it’s “the old saying about rich men making war and poor men having to fight them.” In his 2015 memoir, Fogerty wrote that it was inspired by the courtship of Julie Nixon and David Eisenhower. It’s one of CCR’s most abrasive songs, and it often turns up in movies and TV series about the Vietnam era.


#3 – Lookin’ Out My Back Door

from Willie and the Poor Boys, 1970
The last of five #2 hits for Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ was rumoured to be about drugs, with its surreal imagery and reference to spoons. It was actually written to entertain Fogerty’s three-year-old son, with the song’s parade inspired by Dr Seuss’ ‘To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street’. ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’ is jaunty and eminently whistleable.


#2 – Down On The Corner

from Cosmo’s Factory, 1970
Like ‘Lookin’ Out My Back Door’, ‘Down on the Corner’ is a moment of levity from Fogerty’s pen. It tells the story of a street band, Willie and the Poor Boys, who are pictured on the cover of CCR’s third album of 1969. The song’s driven by Stu Cook’s funky bass-line, although Fogerty was later scathing of his former bandmate. In his memoir, Fogerty wrote that Cook had no rhythm and that “we spent six weeks rehearsing the song, but Stu still couldn’t do it when we got to the recording session”.


#1 – Up Around The Bend

from Cosmo’s Factory, 1970
As on the ‘Fortunate Son’/’Down on the Corner’ double a-side, the optimism of ‘Up Around the Bend’ is paired with a darker song. Stu Cook described ‘Up Around the Bend’ as kind of the opposite of ‘Run Through The Jungle’.” It was inspired by Fogerty riding his motorcycle through the Californian hills, and it speaks of optimism for the future. Despite the optimistic tone, ‘Up Around the Bend’ is abrasive, with its distinctive squealing guitar riff.


Did I leave out your favourite Creedence track? Anything you’d like to suggest?

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38 thoughts on “10 Best Creedence Clearwater Revival Songs Leave a comment

  1. Too often dismissed as a “singles band” CCR actually recorded consistently excellent albums with few throwaway tracks.Although Cosmos was a huge hit (and I recognize every note, chord and lyric – we played it a lot in the store) my favourites are the debut and Willie. Top ten:

    I Put a Spell on You. There are many great versions of this venerable song and this is my fav. In no order these are the remaining nine.
    Suzie Q
    Gloomy
    Walking on the Water (very West Coast psych)
    Bad Moon
    Fortunate Son
    Effigy
    Travelin’ Band (so Little Richard, except he was even more raw)
    Who’ll Stop the Rain
    Have you Seen the Rain
    You are correct in saying that CCR was much-loved in the day. The only naysayers were those who looked down their noses at bands who racked up hit singles (like The Guess Who)
    My son and I saw John perform in concert a couple of years ago and he still had it in spades.

    Liked by 1 person

    • CCR are a very good singles band, they just have some very good albums too. Our lists are pretty different – just shows how many great songs they have. I tend to gravitate to Cosmo’s Factory and Willie and the Poor Boys.

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  2. CCR is another one where there’s just so many to choose from that it’s hard to come up with only 10.

    Green River
    Have you ever seen the rain
    Down on the Corner
    Ramble Tamble
    Cotton Fields
    Proud Mary
    Don’t Look Now
    Pagan Baby
    Up around the bend
    Someday Never Comes

    (Runners-up)
    Lodi
    Looking Out My Back Door
    Ooby Dooby
    Bad Moon Rising
    Born on the Bayou

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  3. I should have put I Put A Spell On You, Susie Q and Hey Tonight also, now that I think about it. And probably Sweet Hitchhiker too.
    I’m one of those people who actually likes a lot of Mardi Gras. I really like about four or five of the songs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. You beat me to this one. I was thinking of doing CCR but not a Pick Six. Probably a series ‘coz there’s much drama in their story. One day.

    Did you hear the Tiny Desk thing that (I think) Hot Fox posted of Fogerty and family? It’s great

    My (unordered) ten:

    I Put a Spell On You – oozes mystery
    Proud Mary – not possible to leave off
    Fortunate Son – very political, just right for the times
    Travelin’ Band – a great slice of rock ‘n roll
    Lodi – a lonely song
    It Came out of the sky – another political one
    Long as I can see the light – forgot this one till Tiny Desk
    Born on the Bayou – Just a killer tune
    Someday never comes – wistful
    Lookin’ out my back door

    Liked by 2 people

    • I just watched some of it – that baseball bat guitar is pretty interesting. It said he’s still singing in the same key as he was in CCR, which is impressive. I was expecting your list to be bluesier than mine, but I’m not sure if that’s true this time (for once!).

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      • Actually, mine IS pretty bluesy. “I Put a Spell on You” is a straight-up blues tune. “Born on the Bayou” is very bluesy. ‘Travelin’ Band” is three-chord rock ‘n roll. The only other blues tune they covered that I can think of is “Suzie Q” which I can pretty much take or leave. The other songs that didn’t make the list are “Green River,” “Down on the Corner,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” and “Bad Moon Rising.” I’d probably also add “Wrote a Song for Everyone” now that I see it on your list. Forgot about that one. Although that said, there’s nothing on your list I don’t like. Plus some of the other commenters have reminded me of some good stuff. “Cotton Fields” almost made my list. I feel a Spotify list coming on.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I had forgotten ‘Ramble Tamble’ and never heard ‘Pagan Baby.’ Both good tunes. As to the blues, it would appear that I am a bad influence on you.

          I too am surprised no one mentioned ‘Run Through the Jungle.’ I’m absolutely astonished it’s one chord. (D Minor as it happens.) I wasn’t aware of that and it doesn’t sound like it. It’s weird that Tom Fogerty said, “It never changes key.” Most songs don’t change key. In fact it’s fairly unusual, especially in rock. I think what he meant is that it never changes chords.

          Liked by 1 person

        • I was wondering if you’ve heard Pagan Baby – it’s off one of their lesser albums, but it’s a great bluesy number.

          Often when songs change key, it’s the ghastly chorus repeat one tone up. Have you heard The Beach Boys’ ‘Girls on the Beach’ – that has some insane key changes?

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        • That ‘one tone up’ thing is called modulation. It can work really well, done judiciously. ‘Heart’ by Rockpile is a good example. No, I hadn’t heard ‘Pagan Baby.’ Not a hit here and I’d moved on by then.

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      • There were some deep tracks I’d forgotten. ‘Penthouse Pauper” from ‘Bayou Country’ is a blues. Fogerty at one point even sings, “And if I were a guitar player, Lord, I’d have to play the blues.”

        Interestingly, it turns out there was an 80’s Aussie band named Penthouse Paupers.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. The list is great…Wrote a Song for Everyone is sometimes overlooked. I could easily have a top twenty of their songs.

    Mine would be:

    Wrote a Song For Everyone
    Born on the Bayou
    Bootleg
    It Came Out of the Sky
    Fortunate Son
    Lookin’ Out My Back Door
    Up Around The Bend
    The Midnight Special
    Who’ll Stop The Rain
    Lodi

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Yeah. But two of the non-Fogerty songs actually have great hooks and good tunes. Those ones are Need Someone to Hold and Sail Away. The rest are horrible and their singing is unbearable. So all together I count five good songs. Maybe even six.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Great list, some of these are new to me. I don’t know anywhere near enough Creedence to put together a Top Ten. My five would likely include Run Through The Jungle, Fortunate Son, Who’ll Stop The Rain, Lookin’ Out My Back Door and Lodi

    Liked by 1 person

    • Their studio records are often really good. I tend to go for the middle period – Willie and the Poor Boys and Cosmo’s Factory – but others prefer the early swamp rock records.

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