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John Fogerty Gets Back to the Country

Album The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again
Due Out August/September
Producer John Fogerty, T Bone Burnett

Andy Greene Jul 21, 2009

When Creedence Clearwater Revival dissolved in 1972, frontman John Fogerty found himself suffering severe writer’s block and stuck in a legal quagmire with his record label. “I felt like a neutron bomb had gone off in my soul and mind,” he recalls. “I didn’t feel like the same person I had been.” Just to stay busy, Fogerty released an album of roots-music covers under the pseudonym the Blue Ridge Rangers in 1973 ”“ playing every instrument himself, despite his limited drumming abilities. “I’ve long been kind of embarrassed about the album,” says Fogerty. “At the time, I told myself, ”˜If you ever do this again, you’re getting real guys to play on it.’ ”

Thirty-six years later, Fogerty is in Berkeley St Studio in Santa Monica, listening to his cover of John Prine’s 1971 classic ”˜Paradise’ ”“ one of 12 songs he’s cut for a sequel disc, The Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again. This time he’s recorded with “real guys” ”“ including session aces like drummer Kenny Aronoff, pedal steel guitarist Greg Leisz and bassist Dennis Crouch ”“ and roped in guest spots from Bruce Springsteen and Don Henley. Co-produced by T Bone Burnett, the disc has a strong back-porch, country vibe ”“ with plenty of fiddle and pedal steel. Massive hits are eschewed in favour of rarely heard gems such as Delaney and Bonnie’s ”˜Never Ending Song of Love,’ John Denver’s ”˜Back Home Again’ and Pat Boone’s ”˜Moody River.’ “They were all famous songs in their time,” says Fogerty. “But in the passage of time, J Lo has become more important than Patsy Cline.”

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The album was nearly finished when Fogerty’s wife and manager, Julie, suggested he reach out to his long-time friend Bruce Springsteen to see if he’d want to cut a duet. “He’s played a lot of my songs live, and I think he’s secretly always wanted to record with me,” says Fogerty, who travelled to Springsteen’s New Jersey home studio in February to record the Everly Brothers’ ”˜When Will I Be Loved?’ “He squeezed it in during the busiest time of his career, right around the Super Bowl, when he was about to launch a tour.” Fogerty also reached out to Don Henley and Timothy B Schmit to sing on Ricky Nelson’s ”˜Garden Party.’ “I relate to that song so much,” says Fogerty. “The idea of a guy insisting on not just rehashing old memories. Don and the Eagles have been through that too.”

Fogerty, who isn’t signed to a label, plans on releasing the disc in late August or early September. “At this moment I can’t reveal any labels,” he says. “There’s more than one in the running ”“ and it may even wind up being self-released.