166. Lookin’ Out My Back Door: John Fogerty, July 12, 2011

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John Fogerty’s top-notch set kickstarted Week Two of this year’s Ottawa Bluesfest … and triggered some bittersweet thoughts and memories for me.

166. Lookin’ Out My Back Door: John Fogerty & more, Ottawa Bluesfest 2011 (Pt. 3), LeBreton Flats, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Tuesday July 12, 2011, $19.17 (pre-sale, per night). 

Weekends may have been made for Michelob, but it appears as if Tuesday’s were made for John Fogerty as the 2011 Ottawa Bluesfest resumed for Week Two with this much-anticipated, mid-festival headlining slot by the former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman.

Your textual compare, VariousArtists, ventured out alone on this night, arriving early to sample, well, various artists on the other stages. Blimey, that turned out to be a mixed blessing.

As I entered the main area, Three Days Grace were bombasting it out on the Claridge stage. For those outside of the maple nation, 3DG are a Canadian outfit very much in the Nickelback vein — yes, another interchangeable corporate MOR-rock entity, combining the dopiest, cheesiest elements from the grunge spectrum mixed with flourishes of metal-lite and standard issue anonymous hard rock pop. I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate, hate this stuff.

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The label of my copy of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s 1970 45, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”  I’ve had this since age 7.

Making substantial haste, I found myself momentarily over at the Subway stage, segueing from contemporary-to-classic rock hell via one, Dana Fuchs. I didn’t initially know who it was up there but similarly disliked this fingernails-on-a-blackboard screechy-white-girl-murdering-old-blues-memes fifth-rate Janis Joplin knock off. Enduring it long enough to finish a slice of pizza, I suffered through Dana blathering on in between utterly gawd awful re-hashes of “Helter Skelter” and “Whole Lotta Love,” with stage patter that essentially telegraphed as “gee, weren’t all the changes in the late ’60s just fucking great, maaaaaaaan, but boy I’ve hated almost every new thing and idea to emerge since.”

She later pontificated some crap about “you can drink all the booze you want, take all the drugs you want, and have all the sex you want, but youre gonna pay a priiiiiiiiiiice.” Fantastic — some prudish, sanctimonious neo-hippie with a large side-dollop of Phyllis Schlafly/Michelle Bachmann-style moridbund religo-moralism, delivering sermons in a Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf-styled voice, championing abstemious living in between covering and lionizing Led freakin’ Zeppelin.

Where are the irony police when you need them?

Note to Dana: Some of us hedonists can actually go out there and enjoy ourselves without necessarily turning into all-consumed vice goblins, and without so much as a single, solitary shred of guilt. I’ve certainly had my fill of all three with precisely zero moral quams and plenty of funsky times in the process. Fuchs off.

All was not lost as I also caught part of Montrealer Ian Kelly’s set over at the Hard Rock Café stage. He reminded me somewhat of the now-deceased R.E.M. at their jangly best. As I climbed up from the back of the hill and on over to National Bank Stage, Kelly’s singer/songwriter tones faded into some funky sax melding with a chuggin’, groovin’ band. Could it be …. Yes, it could be. It really was … that rarest of beasts: actual blues at Bluesfest! Who’da thunk it?

It turned out to be Andrew Jr. Boy Jones from Texas. I hung out for a few numbers enjoying he and the band before deciding that it was Fogerty time.

“I am so fucking excited to see my hero, John Fogerty,” fuchsed Dana as I zoomed back past the Subway stage. “Yeah, me too Dana,” so I continued to hotfoot it over the mbna stage where a huge crowd had accumulated by this point. I waded into it as deeply as I could and then bid my time eavesdropping on a group around me who were debating as to what their favourite mash-up is (I hate mash-ups), reliving the adventures that occurred during their sojurn to the U2 gig in Toronto the previous Friday (I get it, I get it … you saw U2), and wondering which one of them remembered the British children’s character, Noddy; Mark Hudson of the Hudson brothers — and Kate’s Daddy-o; and the Hilarious House of Frightenstein (affirmative on all three, good buddy).

And then, at the stroke of 9:30, the houselights dimmed and, voila!

Ottawa Bluesfest’s interview with John Fogerty with snippets from his performance.

The first thing one notices about Fogerty when you see him is how incredibly well-preserved he is. Does he rest in brine at home, perhaps? His voice still has all the range, tone, and power of his heyday — something truly rare among his peers. As someone who’s seen Dylan shamble half-assedly through a number of concerts, and recently saw Brian Wilson give the best he could but with uneven results, Fogerty stands out as a sharp juxtaposition: someone who has lost none of his onstage faculties. It’s pretty stunning to behold.

He and his crack band hit their mark the moment they kicked things off with “Hey Tonight” and never flagged throughout the 90 minutes on stage.

The CCR-heavy set never felt like a spent oldies show but more like someone still in his prime as both musician and performer, tearing it up and digging into his classic repertoire with obvious pride and joy, volleying ascending spirit back and forth between he and his audience.

Perhaps it’s because he spent so many years not performing his Creedence material that he can come at it so freshly these days. Whatever the reason, this show never came off as phoned in and Fogerty’s love for the copious crowd that showed up — and of his simply being up there — came off as genuine.

Performing “Green River” at Bluesfest, his second song of the night, via this fan-shot video from YouTube.

One classic after another appeared, from both his CCR days and solo career — “Up Around the Bend,” “Centerfield,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “The Old Man Down the Road,” “Born on the Bayou” and many more — turning the evening into one continuous massed singalong. But it was the fifth number of the evening that was special for me: “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.”

I’ve always had a particular attachment to this song as it’s one of the first singles I ever owned as but a wee bairn of 7 in the summer of 1970. I have distinct memories of my sister and her friends, then in their mid-teens, hanging out in our backyard on hot summer afternoons, hauling out our portable, grey-black, single-unit stereo record player with the pop-up lid and clasps on either side to keep it shut when not in use.

1970 1972 Record Player

Two shots of our old stereo record player in 1970 & 1972 (Photos by VA Snr).

My kinder-pals and I would hang out and play in the backyard while they’d drink Cokes and chatter about their mod teen crises and the latest pop culture gossip while spinning the latest tunes for all of us to groove on: albums like The Beatles’ Let It Be or double and triple sets like The Who’s Tommy or the Woodstock soundtrack (the vinyl sides arranged in those days so that they would be spindle-ready stackable and flipable) and singles such as “Spill the Wine” by Eric Burden and War, “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and C.C.R.’s “Lookin’

That last one belonged to my sister’s then best-friend. I fell in love with it, asking them to play it repeatedly until I finally got my parents to buy it for me. Even then, there was a part of me that had a fondness for the twangy stuff. My parents probably didn’t mind me liking that one either, owing to its less freaky, country-ish feel. It probably came off as less threatening to them than The Rolling Stones or The Doors.Out My Back Door.”

Promo film for “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.” I had totally forgotten this even existed.  When I found it on YouTube, I had an instant flashback to seeing on TV at some point in my childhood.

I not only loved the music but also the lyrics in that it mentioned a real, identifiable person (Buck Owens), as well as also the absurd imagery in the lyrics, such as “a statue wearing high heels” and that “tambourines and elephants are playing in the band.” I’ve since read the Fogerty wrote it for his young son, so it makes sense that I connected with it as a boy.

I played that 45 to death — and still have it (see below).

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Hearing Fogerty sing it live was a particularly sentimental and poignant moment because of the association that song will always have for me with my darling, beloved sister who died 20 years ago this September.

As Fogerty performed the good-timey tunes, I sometimes shut my lids, envisioning my family’s pre-renovation kitchen as it was during that summer. Clear was the memory of actually looking out our back porch screen door and seeing my sister and her girlfriends at the start of what transpired to be a transformative decade for all of us. For those few moments, with Fogerty’s voice, live and ringing in my ears, I was transported back to that place and time, singing along with every word.

I miss you, Sis, and think about you every day. I wish you were here.

1970 PreUK Trip

(Above) VA at age 7 and my much missed dear sister, being snapped just before heading to Toronto International for our 1970 family holiday in the UK; (Below) Here I am again during the summer of 1970 in our backyard with our gone-but-not-forgotten dog, Pete.

1970 VA Dog

Mr. CCR and the band not only served up many great tunes but also treated us to some tasty playing: the long intense instrumental passage during “Ramble Tamble,” the Allman-esque guitar workout on “Keep on Chooglin’.” Closing out the main set was a spirited “Fortunate Son,” with the encores of “Rockin’ All Over the World” and “Proud Mary.” And with that, the big wheel stopped turning, although there may have been some rolling on the river as people had one more, post gig.

John, please come back and play centerfield at this festival any time you like.

And thanks for the bittersweet memories.

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Next On Stage –> Bluesfest wraps up with a triumphant Saturday night and then a tragic Sunday ….

167. Stop!: Jane’s Addiction and Death From Above 1979, Ottawa Bluesfest 2011 (Pt. 4), LeBreton Flats, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Saturday July 16, 2011, $19.17.

… and still to come …

165. On & On: Erykah Badu, The Tragically Hip, Shpongle, and more, Ottawa Bluesfest 2011 (Pt. 2), LeBreton Flats, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Saturday July 9, 2011, $19.17 (pre-sale, per night).

NOTE: I simultaneously cross-post over on my Open Salon blog, where I also have a deeper backlog of entries. 

© 2011 VariousArtists

Comments From Original OpenSalon.com Posting

VA: Sitting here about eight feet away from a Run Through the Jungle/Up Around the Bend CCR 45 sitting in a dusty slip cover on a book shelf. Fogerty was so right about the universality of keeping things simple in song writing (tho’ there may be one or two exceptions). Call me ol’ fashioned but I love a performer whose image doesn’t need more that a plaid shirt to rock it in. Fortunate Son is one of my all-time fave protest songs. We shared those Southern Ontario airwaves, VA all those songs rang out loud and clear in my backyard too. Thanks for this.

And I wish your sister was here too.

 
Thanks for the head’s up. I’ll have to see if he is coming through this way and maybe shake out the coin jar for some tickets.
 

Oh wow. John Fogerty remains among m favorite male singers in the world. I’m jealous you got to see him perform, and what a lovely tribute to your sister.

I nearly spit my coffee laughing at your account of the openers! No one should have to endure anything inspired by Nickelback.

And you can’t beat a sentence like: “Fantastic — some prudish, sanctimonious neo-hippie with a large side-dollop of Phyllis Schlafly/Michelle Bachmann-style moridbund religo-moralism, delivering sermons in a Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf-styled voice, championing abstemious living in between covering and lionizing Led freakin’ Zeppelin.”!

 
Found you today!!! yeahhhhhhhhhhhhh
I loved Creedence Clearwater.. It was the soundtrack for one of my stories. NO one makes music like these guys..
Legends in their times.
HUGGGGGGGGGGGG
 

Love the description of the happy creatures out your backdoor. We don’t get to pick our families but we can pick our music…it’s a great thing to find the best of both of those and to share among them.

I just got back from a roadtrip through the country. The only radio stations we could pick up were full of CCR…windows down, turned up loud…the best kinda karaoke!

 

Scarlett: Very cool that you were sitting within range of that 45 while typing your response. We did indeed share those Southern Ontario airwaves, just a few hours apart. As for my sister, who truly was a sweetheart without an enemy that I can recall, it’s a hole that never quite goes away although it’s easier now to remember the good times and the laughs.

Alsoknownas: I can assure you, he’s worth the coin shaking. Don’t miss him if he comes to your vicinity.

ChillerPop: Nickelback have been my No. 1 most hated act on the planet for about a decade now … I feel like I need to apologize for them on behalf of Canada. Glad you enjoyed the sentence — lord knows it was a brief visit in hell to experience — but admittedly feel bad having to drag the name of the great Witchiepoo into the mire.

Linda: I didn’t know I was missing, but always glad to be found by you, Linda! They were indeed legends in their time, and the legend lives on — and has been done proud — via Fogerty.

catch-22: Yes, I feel sort of blessed by both family and music. As for the roadtrip … I LOVE roadtrips and there’s nothing better than bombing down the highway with the music blasting (which Cublet and I will be starting to do this Friday, hitting the road for a mini-vaycay). Yours sounded like it was perfect … and with such great CCR tunes to accompany you. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Hey VA, pretty good version of Green River. It, along with Fortunate Son and Ramble Tamble are on my A-list of CCR songs. They had plenty of hits and it must have been a great concert. Lookin’ Out My Back Door is also great.

Here’s some CCR trivia for you. They were immensely popular in Argentina. My ex is Argentine and I spent several months working there during the 80s. I came to know several ex-pat Argies of my generation and they tell me of the Stones versus CCR debates they enjoyed.

Loved your descriptions of Three Days Grace and Dana Fuchs. Never heard of either but I know what you mean about the TDG music. next time you write about it, add in an extra hate for me. And good on you calling out Fuch’s bumper-sticker wisdom. I’m no stranger to those vices and the price I’ve paid is a bargain.

 
VA- Great post. We are in agreement about the awfulness of the nicklebackers of the world.
Creedence/Fogarty endure as one of the great things of their era, and of any era. Lookin Out My Back Door is one of my favorite songs.
 
Love tagging along as you snarked on Dana with no irony police in sight. I have “Centerfield” the single and played it not too long ago (on my Crosley record player)…while I wasn’t heavy into CCR, this one tune snagged me like a pop fly. As does your writing. You sis would be proud.
 

Abra: That’s interesting about CCR’s popularity in Argentina. I guess that plays into what Fogerty says in the video about the universality of the songs (although, while I love CCR, I’m definitely on the Stones side of that argument).

Yeah, I’d call that a bargain, too — the best I ever had! 😉

Kevin: I could write a 10,000 word piece on how much I hate Nickelback and their ilk, and *still* wouldn’t fully transmit the level to which they irk me. And in terms of the “any era,” there really is a timelessness about CCR’s music.

dirdnl: How nice to see you back at OS, Sharon. Glad you enjoyed the snark, although I do want to limit it. Sometimes I can be too grumbly and I don’t want to turn into a professional curmudgeon.

That’s cool about the single — and I do remember seeing your turntable in one of your posts. As for my dear sister, I hope she would be. I just know we’d be great pals were she still here.

 
I just discovered you! I love CCR even since I played the long version of SusyQ over and over again while skipping class as a senior in high school. Centerfield is my favorite although Stuck in Lodi again is a close second. Perhaps you would like to visit my YouTube channel where I have collected over 2000 videos. To get there go to:
drspud44.com
 
Dr. Spudman44: It’s a mutual discovery. I love the YouTube site, particularly the old TV show clips. I am going to launch my own YT site soon, and am digitizing some of my ancient early 80s VHS stuff. Thanks for stopping by!
 

Like Scarlett, Fortunate Son is one of my favorite songs along with Who’ll Stop the Rain. And I’m sure you know CCR does a killer version of Heard It Through the Grapevine. Fogerty’s voice is as unique as the songs; it’s hard to separate the two. Some of your memories are mine as well; it’s nice to have them brought back this way.

“Look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.
A dinosaur Victrola listening to Buck Owens.”

I love Buck Owens!

 

Margaret: Fogerty’s catalogue of songs — including his CCR and solo compositions + great, extended covers like Suzie Q and Grapevine — is so impressive in its breadth and quality. There are so many great tunes, it’s hard to pick just one or two.

Glad I was able to bring back some good memories for you.

 
This group and this artist are part of my bloodstream. Thanks for the wondeerful insight and more. JF forever…
 
Algis: Considering what great condition John Fogerty is in, he may indeed be around forever.
 
You are my favorite concert reviewer, plain and simple. Because of that I know I don’t ever need to listen to TDG or Dana Fuchs. I’m glad Fogerty still is on point. Growing up near Lodi, CA that one song has a whole different meaning! Fortunate Son has specail meaning for me: my dear friend’s husband was terminally ill and when he passed away I offered to make a dvd to play during his memorial. His daughter searched his iPod–which he’d listened to through every horrible treatment/procedure he had to endure– and found that the song listened to the most was Fortunate Son. I think of Rick every time I hear it now.
 
lschmoopie: Thanks once again, and so good to see you back. It was great to read about your own personal connections to two specific CCR songs. In situations both good and bad, it’s incredible how a song can become embedded with one’s memory of a place and time.
 

Once got into a pissing match with a bank that was using “Down on the Corner” as part of a promotion. Don’t you know it’s about poor people playing on street corners for spare change? I asked the corporate headquarters. Oh, no, they said — it’s about how our ATMs are on every corner. Not to anyone my age — and not to anyone who listens to the lyrics, I said. The ads were pulled not long afterward.

Anyway, that anecdote aside, I think this is perhaps the most fun I’ve had reading any of your reviews. CCR and Fogerty remain in the Top 5 of my personal faves from the era. From Bad Moon to Lodi to Fortunate Son to … well, the list goes on and on. Distinctive voice, distinctive arrangements, etc. Loved it all.

 
Boanerges1: I remember those commercials — I am seriously hoping you had something to do with them being pulled. Glad you had fun reading. Fogerty still really has “it.”
 
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