Green River (song)

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"Green River"
Green River label.jpeg
Single by Creedence Clearwater Revival
from the album Green River
B-side"Commotion"
ReleasedJuly 1969 (1969-07)[1]
RecordedBetween March and June 1969[2]
StudioWally Heider Studios, San Francisco[3]
GenreRoots rock, swamp rock
Length2:36
LabelFantasy
Songwriter(s)John Fogerty
Producer(s)John Fogerty
Creedence Clearwater Revival singles chronology
"Bad Moon Rising"
(1969)
"Green River"
(1969)
"Down on the Corner"
(1969)
Music video
"Green River" (lyric video) on YouTube

"Green River" is a song by American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. It was written by John Fogerty and released as a single in July 1969, one month before the album of the same name was released.[1] "Green River" peaked at number two for one week, behind "Sugar, Sugar" by The Archies, and was ranked by Billboard as the No. 31 song of 1969.

Background[edit]

The song was based on a childhood vacation spot of John Fogerty's.[4][5] In an interview Fogerty gave to Rolling Stone in 2012, Fogerty stated:

What really happened is that I used a setting like New Orleans, but I would actually be talking about thing from my own life. Certainly a song like "Green River" – which you may think would fit seamlessly into the Bayou vibe, but it's actually about the Green River, as I named it – it was actually called Putah Creek by Winters, California. It wasn't called Green River, but in my mind I always sort of called it Green River. All those little anecdotes are part of my childhood, those are things that happened to me actually, I just wrote about them and the audience shifted at the time and place.[6]

Fogerty added that the "actual specific reference, 'Green River,' I got from a soda pop-syrup label... My flavor was called Green River."[5]

Although the song seems to be mostly about idyllic memories, in the last verse a character named Old Cody Junior warns the singer that he's going to find the world smoldering but can always come back to Green River.[7] The name Old Cody Junior was a reference to the fact that Buffalo Bill Cody had owned the cabin by the creek that inspired the song.[8]

As to the music, Fogerty said that:

"Green River" is obviously a tip of the hat to the Sun Records sound, but I can't think of any real specific song. Actually, with the loping beat of the acoustic guitar and then the bass kind of doing that rocking beat on the one and the four, I tend to think of something like "Dream Baby" by Roy Orbison. Yet "Green River" was much more rocking than that song, but the rhythm treatment fit."[8]

Reception[edit]

Billboard described the single as "a driving rocker in the same vein as" Creedence Clearwater Revival's previous single "Bad Moon Rising."[9] Cash Box described it as developing "the bayou-rock style of the CCR in a slower than 'Bad Moon Rising' track that could steal the spotlight."[10] Cash Box ranked it as the No. 19 single of 1969.[11] Ultimate Classic Rock critic Cliff M. Junior rated "Green River" as Creedence Clearwater Revival's 7th greatest song.[7]

Sales and airplay[edit]

"Green River" was certified gold (500,000 units sold) by the Recording Industry Association of America on December 13, 1990.[12]

Chart (1969) Peak
position
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[13] 5
Canada (RPM)[14] 5
West Germany (Official German Charts)[15] 8
UK Singles (OCC)[16] 19
US Billboard Hot 100[17] 2

Cover versions[edit]

Mary Wilson of The Supremes worked with UK record producer Gus Dudgeon on a cover version in the early 1980s. It was released in 2021 on Mary Wilson: The Motown Anthology. Country band Alabama recorded a cover version of the song that appears on their 1982 album Mountain Music. The Minutemen included a live performance cover of the song on their 1984 EP Tour-Spiel. Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings covered it on their first album, Struttin' Our Stuff. The Hollies based their swamp rock pastiche "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" off the basic structure of "Green River"; The similarities between the two songs prompted John Fogerty to file suit against the band, alleging plagiarism. The case was settled out of court with Fogerty receiving half of the revenue from the song. Eilen Jewell realesed a version of the song on a single in 2020.

Appearances in other media[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Chronicle: The 20 Greatest Hits (CD liner). Creedence Clearwater Revival. Fantasy Records. 1991. FCD-CCR2-2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  2. ^ Stephen Thomas Erlewine. "Overview: Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival". AllMusic. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  3. ^ Green River (Expanded Reissue) (PDF) (CD liner). Creedence Clearwater Revival. United States: Concord Music Group. 2008. FAN-30877-02. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 14, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2010.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  4. ^ Thompson, Art. "John Fogerty Summons His Creedence-Era Spirit on Revival". Guitar Player.
  5. ^ a b Goldberg, Michael (1993). "Fortunate Son: John Fogerty – The 1993 Rolling Stone Interview". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 29, 2010.
  6. ^ Greene, Andy. Q&A: John Fogerty on All-Star Duets LP, Unlikely Creedence Reunion, Rolling Stone, May 4, 2012
  7. ^ a b Junior, Cliff M. (September 9, 2012). "Top 10 Creedence Clearwater Revival Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock. Retrieved June 11, 2022.
  8. ^ a b Werner, Craig (1998). Up Around the Bend. Avon Books. pp. 145–146. ISBN 0-380-80153-1.
  9. ^ "Spotlight Singles" (PDF). Billboard. July 26, 1969. p. 64. Retrieved February 20, 2021.
  10. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. July 26, 1969. p. 30. Retrieved December 8, 2021.
  11. ^ "Top 100 Chart Hits of 1969" (PDF). Cash Box. December 27, 1969. p. 22. Retrieved December 8, 2021.
  12. ^ RIAA Certification Search
  13. ^ "Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  14. ^ "RPM – Item Display: Top Singles – Volume 12, No. 5, September 20, 1969". Library and Archives Canada. March 31, 2004. Archived from the original (PHP) on October 21, 2012. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  15. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River". GfK Entertainment charts. To see peak chart position, click "TITEL VON Creedence Clearwater Revival"
  16. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  17. ^ "Creedence Clearwater Revival – Billboard Singles". Allmusic. United States: Rovi Corporation. Retrieved December 29, 2010.