February 2012

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Reading David Cavanagh’s cover story this month, I was reminded of a time when it seemed that the most likely reason someone had gone to all the trouble of inventing the radio was to make sure that wherever you were in the world you could switch one on and more often than not find yourself listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Those, as they say, were the days.

Down the years, I’ve found myself in frequently far-flung locations, on trips that have taken me hither and yon across the globe. Not unusually these jaunts were to places where I’ve ended up propping up bars in the company of people whose language I wasn’t always able to speak, a predictable hindrance to conversation, meaningful or otherwise, but where music, however, would be a language we eventually found we shared. Everyone, everywhere, in my experience was as fluent in CCR as they were in The Beatles, Stones or Bob Dylan. I can’t think of anywhere I’ve variously found myself – from chilly Lapland to the sunny antipodes – where, let’s say, “Proud Mary” didn’t make sundry gatherings of disparate souls feel like they were at the point it was played on the wireless or jukebox part of a single community, a nation without boundaries, a chorus with a single voice.

CCR split after an astonishing run of hits, in 1972. But 40 years on, how much more immediate and still of the moment their music seems whenever you hear it, whatever the circumstance, the radio inclined to sound like it’s turned up its own volume whenever something by them comes on, just about every minute of music they put their name to an undiminished thrill all these years after they originally claimed the world’s attention.

“Creedence weren’t the hippest band in the world,” Bruce Springsteen reflected in his Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame induction speech. “But,” he was quick to add, “they were the best.”

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