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Why does Trump love playing 'Fortunate Son' at rallies? John Fogerty has a pretty good theory

By August Brown, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Like other musicians this year, Fogerty's frequent live gigs have been sidelined because of COVID-19. But a YouTube series he started with his youngest kids — Shane, 28; Tyler, 27; Kelsy, 18 — at the behest of his wife/manager, Julie, proved to be such a bonding experience during the pandemic that they cut a whole album, "Fogerty's Factory," revisiting Creedence and Fogerty solo cuts together.

Shane and Tyler have played them before as members in his touring band, but these homespun jam sessions were a bright spot in a difficult time for an artist with five decades on the road.

"Right after lockdown, when the country was still in shock, Julie came to me and said, 'You should make a video of "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" and post it.' I was puzzled: Why would the world need another video of me singing that?," he said. "But I see it now."

Maybe no living songwriter has more miles under their belt playing songs so specifically aimed at politicians who stoke division to keep power. A combination of COVID-19, climate change and racial justice movements have galvanized a new protest culture that, to Fogerty, both echoes and surpasses the late-1960s and '70s activism that helped cement his band in history.

"In the '60s, it was pretty dang tense," he said. "There was a war that young people hated. I used to shake my head and ask, 'Where are the songwriters, why isn't anyone writing about this?' Now it's a very tense time again. We need music from artists that reminds us that all is not OK, because the Black community here has certainly known that for 400 years, and you've got to be culturally and ethically blind to not be aware of that."

Fogerty distinctly remembers his first time voting — in the 1966 California governor's race, in which future President Ronald Reagan beat the incumbent Democrat, Pat Brown, in a landslide. Even then he saw the contrasts between the cheery, morning-in-America aesthetic of the conservative culture Reagan represented and the discontent that he felt at home, and that was soon reflected in Creedence's music.

 

This election season, he's already voted, and not for the guy playing his songs against his will. "I made sure the (ballot) drop box was the right kind," he said. "We didn't want to take a chance of it going through the mail."

He still has high hopes that if enough Americans do the same, Trump may not have many rallies left to play "Fortunate Son."

"It's a remarkable thing about humans — even though you're tired, sad and overwhelmed by how awful you're feeling, you somehow get some sleep and think about it; you try other angles," he said. "You have to believe you're going to get through it."

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