Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music Paperback – October 25, 2016 by John Fogerty (Back Bay Books)
I am a John Fogerty fan from way back, and I bought his book, Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, the minute it came out. It is a truly good autobiography and takes us through both the highs and lows of his life and musical career. John is brutally honest in it. He has always been known for his high principles, his honesty and integrity, as well as for his incredible talent, unique singing voice, and songwriting genius. The book lets us get to know the kind of person John Fogerty is inside and gives a clear inside story of the rise and fall of Creedence Clearwater Revival, the group that became the best band in the land (even surpassing the Beatles) before They imploded from internal conflict at the pinnacle of their career. Like a shining star, they burned brightly for about 5 years and then they were extinguished (by themselves, sadly.)
I like his simple, easy-to-read style, and John is very open about his feelings in the book. Most of his life he has been a poor communicator and could only seem to say what he felt in music and songs. He seems to have overcome his communication problem, thanks to his second wife, Julie, who always reminds him to just "speak from his heart." John is still pretty much of a perfectionist at heart with an awesome work ethic, but that plus his incredible talent and passion for music have gotten him where he is today. He is the reason CCR soared to such great heights so quickly.
I loved reading all about his early childhood in El Cerrito and could just see him as a little boy...a little boy who loves music and especially loves rock-n-roll. I feel deep sympathy for him over all the adversity he has to endure and overcome in order to finally get back to his dream. The abandonment of their family by his alcoholic father deeply affects him. Then comes all the betrayals by the evil record label, and by his band mates, even by his own brother. Zaentz cheated CCR out of millions in royalties and then used the
CCR money to become a millionaire himself. Zaentz and his Fantasy cronies and accountants also cause CCR to lose their life savings in an overseas bank scam. Then come the lawsuits...litigation after litigation by the label against John---even Zaentz suing John for plagiarism, saying he sounded too much like himself. (I love the way John wins that lawsuit. It is great to hear him tell about the trial.) But the worst thing to John is that he does not even own his own CCR songs. Zaentz and the label own them and can do wha they please with them plus they won't release John from the contract like they released the other members. John would owe them songs for the rest of his life. John's anger and bitterness are consuming him. He loses his songwriting gift due to stress and depression and can't even write new good songs anymore. He is overwhelmed. He cannot or will not sing his CCR songs and make Zaentz more money. He finally turns to alcohol in order to cope and goes through an awful and very long dark period of his life. When he finally makes a great comeback with Centerfield, that's when the vindictive Zaentz sues him again. I understand John's anger and bitterness, but I think he holds onto it too long, too many years. He cannot let it go. The fact of his turning to alcohol was quite surprising and disappointing to me because as leader of CCR, he allowed no drugs and demanded the band stay clean. He had principles and expected the members to all abide by them. They were known as the cleanest rock-n-roll band of that psychedelic era of druggie bands back then. CCR was known as "the Boy Scouts of Rock-n-Roll." But they were the best! Turning out hit after hit and rising to the top.
In his book, John gives a good explanation of his creative process, how he writes songs, his musical influences, and his instruments.His wife, Julie, adds some more information to the story from her point of view.. Julie brings out the best in John, I am so happy that he found the love and trust with her that he had been seeking all his life. He credits her for his having emerged from that terrible dark pit in which he was wallowing for so long. And he is now in a happy place in his life, his music career is again going strong, and he even gets to perform with his son Shane playing guitar by his side. John deserves this happiness.
This is a well-told honest story of the life and music of a famous, multi-talented, legendary much loved superstar, and I give it 5 stars. John Fogerty fans will love it. Most CCR fans will too, as wll anyone from that generation, especially the VietNam vets. CCR appealed to people from all walks of life back then and still does today. John has sell-out crowds of both old and young at all his concerts and he enjoys performing as much as they love hearing and seeing him. It's never too late for renewal of life. This is a very good book and I highly recommend it.