Friday, August 22, 2008


Creedence Clearwater Revival, "Someday Never Comes" Lyrics & Music

If someone were to ask, "What's the most American music?," a whirlwind of sound and images would jam through my mind, Robert Johnson playing his guitar and poisoned with lye, Roseanne Cash singing her high lonesomes, Louis Armstrong dealing effortless masteries, Julia Ward Howe getting martial. Flat and Scruggs, Wynonie Harris, Bruce Springsteen, Buddy Holly, Blondie, and Led Zeppelin dwell co-equal in the pantheon. Even if those last guys were Brits they did it right, and they did it good.

If someone says, "No, you can only choose one artist," the first one I'd think of is Creedence Clearwater Revival, the roots-rock band formed in El Cerrito High School, California. Most of the rhythms and chords they use are 200 years old if they're a day, their music is simple as grass and non-Americans simply would never have put it together. Americans are always going to listen to Creedence, and would always have loved John Fogerty's songs at first listen. His songs contain our core, and come from the geographies which define us.

Strong statement, I suppose. Yet you can imagine Revolutionary war minutemen absent-mindedly singing "Suzie Q" together as they trudge along a dirt road; you can see chain gangs cutting sugar cane, singing "Long as I Can See the Light," families would have fun around log cabin firesides singing "Looking Out My Back Door,"and lonely
muleskinners hauling their loads west would no doubt sing "Molina" to empty plains. "Proud Mary" might just as well have been sung on the steamboats going up rivers and around the bends. In a Simpsons cartoon episode, Homer Simpson hears a panicked Marge ask if anyone knows how to perform CPR, so he looks up into the distance and sings, "I see a Bad Moon a-risin'--I see troubles on the way." I rest my case.

CCR remains popular in the YouTube age, with most of the tunes mentioned above having been downloaded millions of times. In their hay day, the band was so popular and prolific they released four Top Ten albums in 18 months. "Someday Never Comes" was one of the last songs they wrote before breaking up. Here are the lyrics:

First thing I remember
Was askin Papa, "Why!? "
For there were many things I didn't know.

And Daddy always smiled,
He took me by the hand
Sayin, 'Someday...you'll understand."

Well, I'm here to tell you now
each and every mother's son
you better learn it fast
you better learn it young
'cause someday never comes.

Well, time and tears went by
and I collected dust,
there were many things I didn't know
and when daddy went away
he said, "Try to be a man,
and someday...you'll understand."

And then, one day in April
I wasn't even there
there were many things I didn't know:
a son was born to me,
and his mama held his hand
saying "Someday, you'll understand."

Well, I'm here to tell you now
each and every mother's son
you better learn it fast
you better learn it young
'cause someday never comes.

Think it was September, the year I went away
for there were many things I didn't know
and I still see him standing, trying to be a man;
I said, "Someday, you'll understand."

4 comments:

Davo said...

Age revealing, I guess, but Jefferson Airplane had (still have) some pertinent lyrics .. heh.

Bruce said...

Fogerty...only a genius could make great music in such a simple, pure way.

His latest, Revival, is fun because he's not trying to change a thing, sort of an homage to CCR and the spirit of those times. As Fogerty sings on one numnber, "you can't go wrong if you play a little bit of that Creedence song."

Davo said...

.. travelling off on a different track, perhaps. Have just been listening to Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Rachmaninov etc.

Those guys wrote MUSIC, the images are all in the mind. They had no need, nor intention to add "pictorial or verbal interpretations" .. heh.

MarcLord said...

bruce--

sorry to have left you off the list of examples, you belong there.

davo--

really good points. Pure MUSIC was probably harder to write in its way, and formed the basis of the later progressions of words, opera, and video.