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John Fogerty Tag

“I see great things in baseball. It’s our game — the American game. It will take our people out-of-doors, fill them with oxygen, give them a larger physical stoicism. Tend to relieve us from being a nervous, dyspeptic set. Repair these losses, and be a blessing to us.” — Walt Whitman

“I believe in the Church of Baseball. I’ve tried all the major religions, and most of the minor ones. I’ve worshipped Buddha, Allah, Brahma, Vishnu, Siva, trees, mushrooms, and Isadora Duncan.. I’ve tried ’em all, I really have, and the only church that truly feeds the soul, day in, day out, is the Church of Baseball.”  — Annie Savoy

Bull Durham

This post originally ran five years ago, on the eve of the 2009 All-Star Game. It was pretty popular at the time, but the links had gone dead. With this year’s All-Star Game set to be played on July 15, I thought it’d be a nice opportunity to revisit the post, update it a little, and add some bonus features to make it “fresh” for those of you read it back then. Oh yeah, the music is live again, too.

At the time, I suggested to Kelly Stitzel that she feature Bull Durham for an installment of her wonderful Soundtrack Saturday column. I was shocked — shocked, I tell ya! — to find out she’d never seen writer-director Ron Shelton’s 1988 summer hit, one of the best sports movies of all time, if not the best movie about baseball. It’s also one of the finest romantic comedies of the past 25 years (I’m sure that Kelly has seen it by now, right Kelly?). Kelly offered me the opportunity to compile the complete soundtrack to one of my favorite films.

First-time director Shelton drew from his own experiences as a minor-league ball player for Bull Durham‘s screenplay, and he was blessed with a stellar cast that brought his richly drawn characters to life. It’s a movie full of smart dialogue, and character-based comedy that celebrates the lunacy, hijinks, and joys of America’s two favorite pastimes — baseball and sex.

Susan Sarandon, radiant as ever, flew on her own dime from Italy to audition and win theBull-Durham-mv02 role of Annie Savoy, a part-time teacher in Durham, North Carolina. Annie dedicates each summer of her life to tutoring one player on the Durham Bulls, the local minor-league team, that she believes has the best potential to get a call up to the majors. However, Annie isn’t interested in improving the player’s understanding of literature, and she isn’t a coach, although she knows as much about baseball as any manager. No, she’s more of a spiritual and sexual adviser. As she says, “You know how to make love, then you’ll know how to pitch.” Annie reads Walt Whitman to her lover-players, and plays Edith Piaf records in the hopes of making them well-rounded human beings and therefore better ball players. At the top of the film she chooses as her new student Ebby Calvin “Nuke” LaLoosh, the Bulls’ latest gifted pitcher, a kid with a million-dollar arm, but a five-cent head on his shoulders.

The role of Nuke went to Tim Robbins in a breakthrough performance. Shelton had to fight to get Robbins cast in the part; up to that point the actor’s most visible role had been in the infamous flop, Howard the Duck. Besides being a part of that box office disaster, Robbins’ other jobs were mostly blink-and-you-missed-him bit parts (raise your hand if you recall him in Top Gun). In addition to his lack of experience as a leading man, executives at Orion Pictures felt that a woman as classy as Sarandon would never fall for a regular looking guy like Robbins. Luckily, Shelton prevailed and the two actors worked wonderfully on the set. Moreover, they fell in love, started a family, and were together for 23 years. Shows you how smart movie execs can be.

Soul Serenade

Al Wilson - Who Could Be Lovin' You (Other Than Me)While a perfect storm called Nemo was blowing through New England last weekend, another perfect storm was developing for this week’s column. While Nemo left behind a couple of feet of snow, the soul storm left us with this week’s featured song.

It all began with my favorite DJ. You’ve heard me talk about him before. Dave (The Rave) Kapulsky is a Jersey guy with an amazing radio show called “Relics and Rarities.” For the most part Dave plays music from the ’60s, but as the show’s name implies it’s not the usual radio fodder. He digs deep and comes up with music that you’ve never heard before, but will never forget once you’ve heard it.

Dave’s five hour radio show can be heard at topshelfoldies.org on Saturday nights at 10 pm eastern. There’s also a one-hour syndicated version of the show. Check Dave’s website to find out where you can hear it.

So a few weeks ago I get this e-mail from a girl named Liz which directs me to her website. Now normally, I don’t really post links to other people’s site here though I thought this one was worth it.

Liz and I seem to be cut from a little bit of the same cloth. She says she never really knew much about music so she decided to take on a task that I had often thought about but was too chickenshit to do – listening to albums that comprised the book 1001 Albums You Must Listen To Before You Die. She’s listening to each album and posting her thoughts each day on one record. She’s over one year in and hasn’t given up yet.

How could I not share this blog with you, as just like this journey through the world of Bottom Feeders – that shit’s crazy as well. So read this and then head on over after you’re done. I still have 362 album reviews I have to read.

But before that, we continue with the letter F, looking at songs that hit the rock charts but failed to cross over into the Hot 100.

Mick Fleetwood
“Rattlesnake Shake” 1981, #30 (download)

A little bluesy number for Mick Fleetwood off The Visitor, the only solo song of his that would chart. It’s a remake of the Fleetwood Mac track on 1969’s Then Play On album and features original member Peter Green on vocals and guitar.

Fleetwood Mac
“Straight Back” 1982, #36 (download)
“Isn’t It Midnight” 1987, #14 (download)
“Tango in the Night” 1987, #28 (download)
“No Questions Asked” 1988, #37 (download)

It’s understandable why none of these four tracks crossed over into the Hot 100. None of them are radio friendly or even very good for that matter. I’ve always been a fan of Fleetwood Mac but I can do without any of these songs.

“Tango in the Night” is the best of the bunch written solely by Lindsey Buckingham off their ’87 album of the same name. The two Stevie Nicks tracks are truly boring – “Straight Back” from Mirage and “No Questions Asked” – one of two new tracks on Fleetwood Mac’s 1988 Greatest Hits disc. The other track – “Isn’t It Midnight” was written by Christine McVie and Lindsey Buckingham.

John Fogerty is on very many levels the American version of Robbie Robertson. Or maybe Robertson is the Canadian Fogerty. Either way, they have quite a lot of things in common: both were the lead songwriters for Hall of Fame bands from the late ’60s and early ’70s known for merging rock and roll to other forms of “American” music. Both are underrated guitarists. After their bands broke up, both spent long periods of time in the ’70s and ’80s away from the studio before returning with critically acclaimed solo albums. And, both are well known as jerks who may have manipulated their band’s contracts for their own financial benefit, held lifelong grudges against their bandmates, and have put out a stunning lack of good music in the last 35 years, likely in part due to their inability to get over themselves and their own legacies.

Robertson’s story has already been detailed in an earlier entry in this series. As with Fogerty, most of the crap that can be be laid at his feet arose from him acting as default manager and voting bloc of one for Credence Clearwater Revival (or CCR for short). With no business background, Fogerty negotiated what bandmate Stu Cook (who had a degree in business) called “the worst record deal of any major American recording artist” with their label Fantasy Records, run by Saul Zaentz. It was this contract that became a touchstone for a band feud that caused John’s brother Tom to quit CCR in 1971 and become estranged from his brother pretty much for the rest of his life (Tom died of AIDS in 1990 after contracting HIV via a blood transfusion).

When the Small Claims version of Rock Court was being kicked around, one very specific rule was initially put into play – no actual, litigated cases. Still, one got through that was too tantalizing to refuse. Popdose Podcast Poobah Dave Lifton suggested the very strange case of Fantasy Records versus John Fogerty, the former accusing the latter of duplicating a Creedence Clearwater Revival tune. The twist is obvious – that would mean John Fogerty, in essence, ripped himself off purportedly out of spite against Fantasy chief Saul Zaentz.

This was too good an opportunity to pass up. It was also too good to mess around with, so we contacted our commentator friend (and real friggin’ lawyer,) Jonny the Friendly Lawyer, posed the question to him and, in a stroke of good fortune for all of us, he agreed to lay out this rather perverse case. Without further ado, we present Jonny the Friendly Lawyer and Fantasy v. Fogerty.

doug04[1]When you talk about classic rhythm sections, you probably think about John Bonham and John Paul Jones or Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. But Doug Clifford and Stu Cook, drummer and bass player, respectively, for Creedence Clearwater Revival, were responsible for recording some of the most driving and potent rhythm tracks ever laid down on tape. Clifford was a very simple drummer, but had a feel that perfectly complemented the songs of John Fogerty. For years, “Cosmo,” as he was affectionately known to friends, backed the guitarist/singer on a number of hits including “Proud Mary,” “Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising,” and a host of others. But egos and politics came into the picture and a band that had sold millions of records, performed on the Ed Sullivan Show, appeared at Woodstock, and developed a sound that would live on for decades, was broken apart.

For years, Doug Clifford has toured as part of Creedence Clearwater Revisited, a group that performs all the CCR songs in a type of greatest hits package. Stu Cook is on bass, of course, and the group is rounded out by Fogerty soundalike John Tristao on vocals, Steve Gunner on keyboards and guitars, and Tal Morris on lead guitar. The songs sound uncannily like the originals, driven in huge part by the presence of the original CCR rhythm section.

When you play all of these Creedence songs on tour, what feelings to they bring back? Are they good memories? Bad memories?

Well, it wouldn’t be bad memories, or otherwise I wouldn’t be out there flogging it, because traveling is not easy these days and you’ve got to have something to look forward to. The songs are great; they always have been. Anything that happened in between and after the fact really doesn’t matter to me — and certainly not when I’m playing the songs.

basementsongs

fogerty1The other night I let Sophie stay up past her bedtime to listen to the last inning of the game between the Red Sox and Indians. One of the things I love about the Internet is the ability to listen to every Indians game with the Cleveland radio play-by-play announcers making the calls — it’s really kept me in touch with my hometown. Ironically, baseball was not a huge part of childhood in northeast Ohio; during the ’80s, there was little to root for when the Indians took the field. Oh, each year there was a glimmer of hope for the home team that lasted until the end of April, by which time the Tribe was usually in the basement of their division. In addition to the woes of the Indians, baseball was just never a presence in our house, which is strange, because if you ask my dad about the ’48 and ’54 championship Indians teams, he can rattle off players and some of their accomplishments. The radio was always tuned to music in our house, though, and I found televised games a bore. I took in the occasional game, but the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium was a dungeon: cold, damp and cavernous. It wasn’t a lot of fun to sit in the stands.

The only Indians game I recall vividly occurred in the mid ’80s. It was actually a doubleheader, and my cousin Dave and I rode the rapid transit downtown, to take in both games and then hear Crosby, Stills and Nash give a full-length concert afterward. It was a perfect day: Sun shining; women roaming around in bikini tops; hippies singing out of tune at the top of their lungs; and the Tribe won both games. It was unbelievable. Dave and I returned home around 11 PM and man, was my dad pissed. Turned out he didn’t realize it was a doubleheader and a rock concert. I think he was just worried.

I credit the movies for stirring my interest in baseball. I cried my eyes out each time I saw Gary Cooper gave the Lou Gehrig farewell speech in The Pride of the Yankees; I cheered each time I watched Robert Redford’s Roy Hobbs shatter the stadium lights in The Natural. However, it was the release of Ron Shelton’s Bull Durham in 1988 that made me appreciate the nature of the game. I don’t believe any other baseball film has ever captured the essence of life on the field and off as well as Bull Durham — plus, Kevin Costner, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins and the late Trey Wilson are a dream cast. Almost a year later, David S. Ward’s comedy about the hapless Cleveland Indians, Major League, hit theaters. The film, starring Tom Berenger, Rene Russo, Charlie Sheen and the incomparable Bob Uecker, is a love letter to the city of Cleveland, a town with a self-confidence problem ever since the Cuyahoga River caught on fire in 1969. While both films are very funny, they are also hopeful, which is what I love about the game. One day, your team can lose by 10 runs and look like complete incompetents; the next night, those same players can be in sync and look like champions.

I know I said I’d be quitting the intros for a while, but I had to put this all into perspective. I hadn’t thought about the scope of this series since I first agreed to do it, but the other night it kind of hit me and put me into shock.

This is post #32. Usually I get about 20 songs in each post. Which means over the course of this series so far I’ve posted somewhere around 640 songs. 640! That’s a good 50-disc box set there.

Then it hit me that we’re only on the letter F. Take out letters like X and Z and we’re still only about a quarter of the way through the entire series at this point. Again, this is the 32nd week; at this pace we’re looking at 120-plus weeks, total. So by the end we’re talking two years and a few months and probably around 2,500 songs. But the good news is that I still enjoy putting each week’s post together even after eight months of them. Whew.

Well, here’s another disc and a half’s worth of the eventual ultimate Bottom Feeders box set, as we continue looking at songs that charted from 41 to 100 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the 1980s.

Fleetwood Mac
“Sisters of the Moon” — 1980, #86 (download)
“Fireflies” — 1981, #60 (download)
“Family Man” — 1988, #90 (download)
“As Long as You Follow” — 1988, #43 (download)

“Sisters of the Moon” was the last of the four singles released in the U.S. off of Tusk (1979). Someone needs to introduce Kanye West to this one. The beat seems right up his alley for a sample.

“Fireflies” is from Fleetwood Mac Live (1980), written by Stevie Nicks and one of the three tracks recorded in Santa Monica for friends of the band.

“As Long as You Follow” is the only one of the four tracks here that’s still heard on the radio today. It was one of the two new songs on their Greatest Hits album (1988), which is widely thought to be the last album released on eight-track.

I know Lindsey Buckingham is a Popdose favorite, so I’ll let you guys talk about the Buckingham-penned “Family Man,” from 1987’s Tango in the Night, in the comments section.

Sometime in 1985, a new label-wide policy was instituted regarding all new signings. There were to be none. Nada. The staff was called into a departmental meeting to receive the news, which, to my mind, might as well have been notice that the oxygen supply to the building was being abruptly cut off. Success at the major label level involves constant evolution. Like the care and feeding of a miniature bonsai tree, sculpting, shaping, and pruning the roster is a delicate and subtle business that eventually yields strong roots and fine blossoms. To withhold basic nutrients is to doom the entire undertaking to a slow and withering death, and not one I cared to be a party to.

But this new edict, however strange it seems, actually led me straight to my next signing.

That morning I had gone through the previous day’s mail, sorting promising looking demos into one stack, and depositing the rest in the trash. Exactly what a “promising demo” looks like is anyone’s guess, and tossing the others is not flattering behavior for an A&R man, but the company also had one of those “no unsolicited tapes” policies so I suppose any route out of the building for these offerings was more or less the correct one.

On this particular day I received a twelve-inch vinyl record in a white sleeve with a picture of three large bowling balls in triangular formation. These bowling balls bore the inscriptions “Steve,” “Bob&,” “Rich.” I took one look, declared the item preposterous, and threw it away. Two hours later, fuming from the meeting which ended all further A&R activity, I returned to my office and declared out loud to no one in particular, “Well, if I’m going to waste my time, I might as well waste it on this!” With that, I fished Steve, Bob, & Rich out of the wastebasket and slapped in onto the turntable. I cranked the stereo’s volume way up, figuring to disturb just about everybody within earshot with this complete rubbish. What emerged from the speakers, however, was not the misguided and amateurish attempt at immortality that I had imagined but rather an incredible piece of writing and performance called “Let My People Go-Go” (download). Even the track’s count off, not “1-2-3-4” but rather “Father, Son, and Holy Cow!” had me going wild. The lyrics were sublime:

Moses went up to the mountain high
To find out from God, “Why did you make us? Why?”
Secret words in a secret room…
He said, “A wop bop a loo bop a lop bam boom!

What a hoot! Still, there was a moratorium to be observed, so I simply made a cassette copy of the record and threw it in the bottom of my tape bag to enjoy again at my leisure.