|Single by Creedence Clearwater Revival|
|from the album Willy and the Poor Boys|
|A-side||Down on the Corner|
|Recorded||1969, Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, California|
|Genre||Roots rock, blues rock, hard rock|
|Creedence Clearwater Revival singles chronology|
"Fortunate Son" is a song by Creedence Clearwater Revival released on their album Willy and the Poor Boys in 1969. It was released as a single, together with "Down on the Corner", in September 1969. This song reached #14 on the United States charts on 22 November 1969, the week before Billboard changed its methodology on double-sided hits. The tracks combined to climb to #9 the next week, on the way to peaking at #3 three more weeks later, on 20 December 1969. It won the RIAA Gold Disc award in December 1970. Pitchfork Media placed it at number 17 on its list of "The 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s". Rolling Stone placed it at #99 on its "500 Greatest Songs of All Time" list. In 2014, the song was added to the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."
The song is a counterculture era anti-war anthem, criticizing militant patriotic behavior and those who support the use of military force without having to "pay the costs" themselves (either financially or by serving in a wartime military). The song, released during the Vietnam War, is not explicit in its criticism of that war in particular, but the clear attacks on the elite classes (the families that give birth to "fortunate sons") of America and their withdrawal from the costs of nationalistic imperialism are easy to contextualize to that conflict. The song was inspired by the wedding of David Eisenhower, the grandson of President Dwight David Eisenhower, to Julie Nixon, the daughter of President Richard Nixon, in 1968. The song's author and singer, John Fogerty, told Rolling Stone:
- "Julie Nixon was hanging around with David Eisenhower, and you just had the feeling that none of these people were going to be involved with the war. In 1968, the majority of the country thought morale was great among the troops, and eighty percent of them were in favor of the war. But to some of us who were watching closely, we just knew we were headed for trouble."
The song has been widely used to protest military actions and elitism in Western society, particularly in the United States; as an added consequence of its popularity, it has even been used in completely unrelated situations, such as to advertise blue jeans.
It attracted criticism when Bruce Springsteen, Dave Grohl, and Zac Brown performed the song together at the November 2014 Concert for Valor in Washington D.C.. Fogerty, a military veteran, defended their song choice.
The song has since been recorded or notably performed by Bob Seger, La Renga, Gordon Downie and the Country of Miracles, Brandi Carlile, Pearl Jam, U2, Sleater-Kinney, Corrosion of Conformity, Death Cab for Cutie, Cat Power, The Dropkick Murphys, 38 Special, Circle Jerks, Jeff B.R.I.C.K. & The Mortiboys, Minutemen, Kid Rock, W.A.S.P., Todd Snider and Patty Griffin, Bruce Springsteen, Santana featuring Scott Stapp, The Ghost Inside and Aloe Blacc. The Screaming Jets recorded a cover of "Fortunate Son" and released it as a B-side to their 1996 single, "Sacrifice". Wyclef Jean's cover of the song was played over the beginning and ending credits of The Manchurian Candidate (2004). Sleater-Kinney also performed a cover of the song, which they dedicated to George W. Bush, during the WedRock benefit concert on April 28, 2004. Fogerty recorded a version of the song with Foo Fighters for his 2013 album Wrote a Song for Everyone.
The song is used in the introduction sequence of the game Battlefield Vietnam where it is among a list of in-game playable tracks. The song was also used during the E3 announcement trailer for Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam and is also the main menu song for the game and plays mid-game in vehicle radios. "Fortunate Son" was also included in the game Call of Duty: Black Ops at the start of the level S.O.G. Its use is an anachronism, as the level S.O.G. takes place during the Battle of Khe Sanh, a year before the song is released. In Homefront, the song is played during the chapter "Golden Gate". A cover of the song was released as DLC for Rock Band in 2007. The first appearance of the song came out before real instruments were integrated. The original version was made available to download on March 1, 2011, for use in Rock Band 3 PRO mode which takes advantage of the use of a real guitar / bass guitar, along with standard MIDI-compatible electronic drum kits in addition to vocals. The master recording by CCR was made available as well in 2010. The song is also playable on basic controllers in Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.
The song is featured in the video game Grand Theft Auto V on the in-game radio station Los Santos Rock Radio, though the song is only available for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 and PC versions of the game.
Movies and TV
"Fortunate Son" is featured in the film Forrest Gump, and is the introduction song in the scene where Forrest and Bubba are shown flying in a U.S. Army UH-1C Huey Helicopter, to the combat zone, in South Vietnam, c. 1968, in the Vietnam War. Most recently, "Fortunate Son," performed by Creedence Clearwater Revival, is featured in the film "Little White Lies," called the French "Big Chill," in part for its use of American rock classics.
The song also appeared in the film Live Free or Die Hard and in an episode of American Dad! entitled "In Country...Club", during a reenactment of the Vietnam War, when Steve sprays the actors dressed as Vietcong with orange paint and the intro is played at when Steve and Stan enter the reenactment. Another film is Tropic Thunder, an action satire film about three actors making a Vietnam War film. The song is also played in the Battleship ending credits. In the 2011 TV series Lights Out it is played in the last episode, "War", both when Patrick "Lights" Leary is approaching the ring for his final confrontation with Richard "Death Row" Reynolds and when the match is over.
A cover version of the song is played by Lyle Workman at the end of Sons of Anarchy episode 108. It also appeared on Chuck in the third season episode "Chuck Versus the Beard", covered by Jeffster! "Fortunate Son" is used in the film Dale.
A highly edited version was used in a Wrangler commercial because John Fogerty "long ago signed away legal control of his old recordings to Creedence's record label, Fantasy Records." In this case, the advertiser eventually stopped using the song, as Fogerty related in a later interview:
Yes, the people that owned Fantasy Records also owned all my early songs, and they would do all kinds of stuff I really hated in a commercial way with my songs. ... Then one day somebody from the L.A. Times actually bothered to call me up and ask me how I felt, and I finally had a chance to talk about it. And I said I'm very much against my song being used to sell pants. ... So my position got stated very well in the newspaper, and lo and behold, Wrangler to their credit said, "Wow, even though we made our agreement with the publisher, the owner of the song, we can see now that John Fogerty really hates the idea", so they stopped doing it.
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- Battlefield: Bad Company 2: Vietnam debut trailer
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- "Internet Movie Database". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2014-10-08.
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- Baker, Bob (2002-10-23). "Their 'Son' was Fogerty's baby; The last thing the singer wants is a Creedence corporate revival, but he doesn't own the rights, so 'Fortunate Son' now sells jeans". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. Retrieved 2010-03-29.
- "John Fogerty Experiences a Musical and Personal 'Revival'". Spinner. 2007-10-05. Retrieved 2010-03-26.
- Classic Tracks: Creedence Clearwater Revival "Fortunate Son"
- Library of Congress essay on the song's addition to the National Recording Registry.