Creedence Clearwater Revival

Proud Mary

Song Review by

Creedence Clearwater Revival had a spurt of huge hit singles in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "Proud Mary" might be the best known of these, and marked not just the moment at which John Fogerty and his band found their own voice. It stands as the definitive Creedence Clearwater Revival song: one that weaves Americana and shades of swamp rock, blues, country, rockabilly, gospel, and soul together, but sounds inimitably like Creedence Clearwater Revival. Like many Creedence songs, it's built around a primeval riff, heard at the very beginning of the tune and repeated throughout. That's an emphatic downward two-chord pattern, which on the third go-round keeps going down and down before leaping upwards in an exultant fashion before the verse. There's also the insistent chorus of "rollin' down the river," the word "rollin'" repeated twice by the band before the whole phrase is sung. The chorus in particular sounds very much like an ancient gospel song in its rousing rallying cry, though it's in fact the work of John Fogerty. Those musical hooks were enough to guarantee that "Proud Mary" would be a big hit, but there was much more in the verses, where Fogerty emotionally sang of leaving the city to work on a steamboat. That fit in well with the back-to-the-country roots getting in vogue among the counterculture by 1969, but Fogerty sounded like a working man finding release, not a middle-class hippie yearning for a pastoral ideal. There's also a nicely effective guitar solo, one which Fogerty said was influenced by Steve Cropper of Booker T. & the MGs. It's odd that "Proud Mary" was titled as such rather than "Rollin' Down the River," the chorus that sticks in the listener's mind first. But it didn't keep it from becoming a monstrous hit in early 1969, reaching #2. It's been covered by many artists since then, including Elvis Presley, Wilson Pickett, and many bar bands that have never recorded. But by far the most famous of those covers was by Ike & Tina Turner, who amplified the gospel and soul elements of the sound to turn it into a raveup with the feel of a church revival. The Ike & Tina Turner version, remarkably, made #4 in 1971, just a couple of years after the Creedence Clearwater Revival original had been a big smash.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Bayou Country 1969 Fantasy 3:08
No Image 196? Fantasy
Creedence Gold 1972 Fantasy 3:07
Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits 1976 Fantasy 3:07
Oldies But Goodies: Legendary Hits 1979
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:06
No Image 1982 Fantasy
Rollin' on the River 1988 Fantasy 3:09
Creedence Clearwater Revival [Time Life] 198? Fantasy 3:08
Oldies but Goodies, Vol. 4 1990
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:06
Dick Clark's All-Time Hits, Vol. 3 1990
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:05
Creedence Clearwater Revival: 1968/1969 1991 Fantasy
The Ultimate Rock Collection Gold and Platinum, Vol. 1: 1964-1970 1997
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:09
The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival [Fantasy Canada] 1998 Fantasy 3:07
Ultimate Collection 1998 Mushroom Records 3:08
Collection 1999 Fantasy 3:08
Keep on Chooglin' [Festival] 1999 Festival Records 3:09
At the Movies 1999 Fantasy 3:08
Oldies But Goodies, Vol. 4 & 5 2000
Various Artists
Original Sound Entertainment 3:06
Creedence Clearwater Revival [Box Set] 2001 Fantasy 3:17
Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival [EMI] 2003 EMI Music Distribution 3:08
Platinum 2004 BMG International 3:07
Legends: Pluggin' In 2004
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:08
Greatest Hits [2005] 2005 Rock 3:08
The Long Road Home: The Ultimate John Fogerty/Creedence Collection 2005 Fantasy 3:05
Absolute Originals 2006 APO (Analogue Production Originals) 3:08
Legends Informercial Set 2007
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:08
Forever Creedence Clearwater Revival 2007 Madacy 3:08
Rock Legends 2008 Concord Neu 3:09
Best Of 2008 Universal International 3:08
Collected 2008 Universal Distribution 3:07
40th Anniversary Editions Box Set 2009 Universal Distribution / Concord / Universal / Fantasy 3:09
The Singles Collection 2009 Concord / Fantasy 3:12
'60s Music Revolution 2012
Various Artists
Time / Life Music 3:08
Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival: Greatest Hits & All-Time Classics 2012 Concord / Fantasy 3:07
Greatest Hits 2014 Fantasy 3:07
No Image Phantom
No Image Craft Records 3:50
Pure 60's
Various Artists
Universal 3:08