Kenneth is a rural citizen of Hamilton, Ala., and has begun to observe life and certain things and people helping him to write about them.
Dreams are nothing more than wishes (your wish will come true)
And a wish is just a dream (your wish will come true)
You wish to come true (your wish will come true)
(Your wish will come true, your wish will come true)
— Songwriter: Harry Edward Nilsson, The Puppy Song
In The 60s and 70s
We, the American citizens, who did pay attention, saw change appear as if a cheap back-street magician with whiskey on his breath and a lie on his lips, handed us a fancy top hat, waved his hand once, and a certain, stylish Music had two feet and started walking and stumbling over the floor. This infant was Creedence Clearwater Revival, or as they grew to be: CCR, as most disk jockeys hammered-out their name day and night.
For whatever reason, the foursome who formed CCR, John Fogerty and his brother, Tom; Doug Clifford and Stu Cook had the active ingredients to make a successful rock band: Sacrifice; Dedication and Unselfish devotion to (a) craft. And they did make it, make no mistake about this. Just ask Fantasy Records. CCR made these folks a bale or two of cash and (as far as I know) are still getting paid through legal channels and the residual play—although be it over those late night Oldies FM rackets. Like it or not. Performing does have its vulgar side. The Infant grew restless and labored for a few moons and soon, the sweaty labor gave way to selfishness. . .Uh, oh! you have the beginnings of an end to something sweeter than the songs sang by Higher Angels. This is true.
The Beginning of CCR
was vulgar and quite nasty, as John Fogerty; Tom Fogerty; Stu Cook and Doug Clifford soon learned—playing in “dives” and dark hallways as they were barely making food money, but the four young artists, did not bail. Instead they took their adversity as learning experience and having to pay those proverbial dues.
When CCR was first heard on (mostly) Rock Stations that sported a Top 40 Format, wiser than wise Rock Music fans begun to ask, what category does CCR belong? And the answer is multi-sided. CCR not only played, but developed Roots rock; Swamp rock and Blues rock. They played in a Southern rock style, but a far cry from the Good Ol’ Boy Bar Scene—CCR had a presence of that being a Sophisticated rock that fans started following and soon the Fogerty’s, Cifford and Cook might have let out a small sigh of relief, but they needed the right management as it related to the group’s management, recording and tour scheduing and on and on the heartless wheel continued to roll.
Some of CCR’s lyrics about topics including the Vietnam War. The band even performed at the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair in Upstate New York, but as soon as the emcee would blare over the PA system, let’s hear it for CCR, that was enough to start a small riot. The foursome begun to taste success and were tempted to take a needed rest—not just from work, but themselves, as most successful groups do at one time or the other—the Beach Boys; Chicago and even the Beatles. With success comes a drain on the mental and physical bodies. Dues have to be paid if one more show isn’t performed, a hundred sharks with briefcases would be lining-up the hallways at Fantasy Records.
If any discerning CCR fan were looking, they did not have to look far to see the obvious tension among the four California boys who ended up as Creedence Clearwater Revival—and with talk, mostly rumors running like a wild jack rabbit about a possible break-up and to top it all, John Fogerty, the principal songwriter, co-manager of the CCR name, was talking in loud terms about striking out on his own and when talk like this occurs, two sources can be attributed to such talk: a personal truth from the one talking and the Masters of Spin who know how to write a certain phrase which is really a truth being written in another style. I tried to read the background for John Fogerty, but stopped by a serious migraine headache.
The Products of CCR
not just limited to one group or people. “Green River,” was a driving, jyrating jam that displayed the band’s complete wall of sound—in short, all eight cylinders were firing. Fans loved it. I loved it. Many is the day during school and I was studying for an upcoming test that I would raw CCRs album covers as well as design a set of lyrics for (that) album and when the project was finished, I felt good about myself. So why didn’t the masses who followed CCR share my enthusiasm for this band? This is a multi-faceted amswer. Inner-turmoil, management riffs, and other personal fall-outs attributed to the Finality of CCR and no one was as sad as I was to hear it. The break-up was comparable to a shiny wooden ship that sailed from Europe, then sank only two miles from our eastern seaboard with millions in treasure and the crew—sure, it was awful. Sure, it was bloody, the squabbles with CCR personnel.
But . . .the foursome knew how to forgive and learned how to look beyond those annoyances that hurt anyone. Soon it was new songs, mostly written by John Fogerty and brother Tom, with Doug and Stu finishing out those Bayouish Swamp Tunes “Green River,” to name one, and now fame and fortune were happy walking into many sundowns with huge bucks in CCRs banking accounts and their photos on every teenage social magazine . . .even Tiger Beat.
Enter “Joan,” WVOK, and a Broken Heart
I remember 1971 like it was last Tuesday. I was 14, no after-school job to earn some money because a rural guy with lots on the ball has to have scratch to rock and roll in this very ruralistic southern town. You are all welcome to visit the people in Hamilton anytime you please.
A typical summer day in 1971 was like this: get dressed, swig black coffee from 6 to 7:30 a.m.; hop aboard the school bus then find one of my buddies and share some lies about talking to “several” girls over the phone last night and labor from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., this is when Real Life began for me and the other Rural Prisoners in the south. Hamilton to be exact. (I do want you to visit me at anytime.)
When I got off the school bus at 3:30 p.m., I immediately forged for food in our refrigerator or what was left-over from dinner last night and sitting (under a neat cover) on our dining table. Then I would weld myself to my transistor radio with THE only 100,000 watt Rock Station (in Bessemer, Ala.), but this was more than your garden variety radio station. This was the Mecca of Rock ‘N Roll music, bands, and something called The Shower of Stars—that this 100.000 watt station fully-sponsored each June when summer was rolling.
Even the kids, hip kids, cool kids, kids that climb on rocks, attended The Shower of Stars—Paul Revere and The Raiders featuring Mark Lindsay, who went solo and released, “Arizona,” take off your Indian bracelet . . .or something like that, and I am glad that with (my) writing, you do not have to get a ringer, but a Lean-to will work.
Other folks who attended what the kids and their parents, (hip parents labeled The Shower of Stars “The Concert” of all Concerts and the WVOK guys reached out even further to sign,Gene and Debbie “Lovin’ Season,”; The Lemon Pipers “Green Tambourine,” and Roy Head, a singer whose trademark was doing the splits—even Herman’s Hermits, man, the kids in 1971, in my hayseed town, Hamilton, Ala., loved WVOK because WE all hit puberty pretty much at the same internals. Even my first girlfriend, “Joan,” and I cannot tell you her last name for she might have relatives. But she was so pretty and knew how to work her feminine charms and I lapped it up like a hungry hog. Now can you distinguish the difference in me and Hunter S. Thompson? He would have no qualms in telling you her last name and more about her eighth-grade charms.
“Joan” and I fell in love. Me in the seventh-grade and her in the eighth. In the summer, we talked a lot on the phone and I confess that right then and there: we were aiming to get married when we graduated. You can laugh now. But when she went to the ninth grade and me in the eighth grade, she broke up with me on the phone . . .and I tried to nail down THE reason why she broke up with me . . .”Welllll, take me back down where cool water flow . . .Well, take me back down where cool water flow, yeh Let me remember things I love Stoppin' at the log where catfish bite, Walkin' along the river road at night,Barefoot girls dancin' in the moonlight . . .” “Green River!” I would let my young voice impersonate John Fogerty and CCR over our phone to “Joan.”
So now you know. The REAL reason why we broke up and now a heavy burden has been lifted from my chest.
And one thing that I AM better at doing than the late Hunter S. Thompson: Do you see in the beginning of THIS narrative just how much I put in the information about CCR? I did this for a reason: Because there was not that much to talk about with “Joan,” but for many years, I hated her so much.
No more WVOK. No more CCR. No more “Joan,” whom I met in junior high school and I can report that I have reconnected with her on an off-brand social site. The hurt was still evident. That was until we chatted for the first time when she told me about her life with this “Dwayne” character and their two children, both grown. And what really made all of the suffering worth the wait for her . . .
She confided in me that why she went with “Dwayne,” and not me. It was, as she chatted, he made her feel like her brother . . .and I left THAT tidbit ALONE.
February 13, 2019_____________________________
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© 2019 Kenneth Avery