Bywater residents are used to checking out the folks emerging from 728 Piety Street in hopes of getting a glimpse at a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer or two. Last week it was John Fogerty, leader of Rock Hall inhabitants Creedence Clearwater Revival, who dropped in on producer Mark Bingham’s now-famous studio to cut a session for his upcoming album.
Fogerty enlisted another Hall of Famer for the project, legendary producer, arranger, songwriter and pianist Allen Toussaint, along with recent Grammy winners Rebirth Brass Band, Rockin’ Dopsie on washboard and Anthony “Dopsie” Rubin on accordion.
Toussaint is a regular at Piety Street Studios, and though it’s home turf for the talented Bingham, when Toussaint is in the house there’s no question about who’s the top dog.
“Comparing myself to Allen,” quips the laconic Bingham, “would be like Fredo comparing himself to Don Corleone.”
Toussaint’s task last week was to help Fogerty craft a new arrangement for one of the most iconic songs in rock history, “Proud Mary.” Fogerty’s next record will include remakes of some of his CCR classics featuring various special guests. He obviously felt the only place to re-cut “Proud Mary” was here in New Orleans.
A truly great song usually has more than one memorable version, and “Proud Mary” is no exception. Though classic rock fans know it through CCR, R&B fans might well identify it as “that song by Ike and Tina Turner.” Indeed, Ike’s arrangement, working from a slow gospel cadence to a frenzied climax, was a medium for one of the most overtly sexual performances of Tina’s galvanic career.
Accordingly, Fogerty enlisted contemporary R&B diva and American Idol star Jennifer Hudson to guest on this version. The album, titled Wrote a Song for Everyone, is scheduled for release on October 9 on Vanguard Records.
Other CCR tracks with special guests on the album include “Born on the Bayou,” with Kid Rock; “Fortunate Son,” with Foo Fighters; “Long as I Can See the Light,” with My Morning Jacket; “Have You Ever Seen the Rain,” with Alan Jackson; “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” with Bob Seger, and “Wrote a Song for Everyone,” with Miranda Lambert.
Fogerty’s presence in New Orleans provides an illustration of how profound a presence the city’s music has on American folklore. Most rock fans can identify CCR immediately by Fogerty’s trademark “chooglin’” guitar rhythm. Few realize, though, that the inspiration for the style comes from New Orleans guitarist Earl Stanley, who coined it on the 1965 instrumental by Roger & the Gypsies, “Pass the Hatchet”. The mastermind behind this track was none other than New Orleans R&B great Eddie Bo, who produced the song. Three years later the first Creedence Clearwater Revival album was released.