|Single by Creedence Clearwater Revival|
|from the album Bayou Country|
|B-side||"Born on the Bayou"|
|Format||7" 45 RPM|
|Studio||RCA Studios in Hollywood, California|
|Creedence Clearwater Revival singles chronology|
"Proud Mary" is a rock n' roll song written by John Fogerty and first recorded by his band Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song was released by Fantasy Records as a single from the band's second studio album, Bayou Country, which was released by the same record company in January 1969. The single is generally considered to have been released in early January 1969, although at least one source states that it came out just before Christmas 1968. The song became a major hit in the United States, peaking at #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in March 1969, the first of five non-consecutive singles to peak at #2 for the group.
- 1 Background and recording
- 2 Chart performance
- 3 Solomon Burke version
- 4 Tina Turner versions
- 5 Accolades
- 6 Other versions
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Background and recording
In a 1969 interview, Fogerty said that he wrote it in the two days after he was discharged from the National Guard. In the liner notes for the 2008 expanded reissue of Bayou Country, Joel Selvin explained that the songs for the album started when John Fogerty was in the National Guard, that the riffs for "Proud Mary", "Born on the Bayou", and "Keep on Chooglin'" were conceived by Fogerty at a concert in the Avalon Ballroom, and "Proud Mary" was arranged from parts of different songs, one of which was about a washerwoman named Mary. The line "Left a good job in the city" was written following Fogerty's discharge from the National Guard, and the line "rollin' on the river" was from a movie by Will Rogers.
"Proud Mary's" singer, a low-wage earner, leaves what he considers a "good job," which he might define as steady work, even though for long hours under a dictatorial boss. He decides to follow his impulse and imagination and hitches a ride on a riverboat queen, bidding farewell to the city. Only when the boat pulls out does he see the "good side of the city"—which, for him, is one in the distance, far removed from his life. Down by the river and on the boat, the singer finds protection from "the man" and salvation from his working-class pains in the nurturing spirit and generosity of simple people who "are happy to give" even "if you have no money." The river in Fogerty and traditionally in literature and song is a place holding biblical and epical implications. ...Indeed, the river in "Proud Mary" offers not only escape but also rebirth to the singer.
The song is a seamless mix of black and white roots music..."Proud Mary" is, of course, a steamboat traveling up and down the river. Fogerty's lyric sketches out a vivid picture of the protagonist finding a comfortable niche in a community of outsiders...The story connects back to Mark Twain; it brings the myth [of "the rambling man and life along the Mississippi"] into the sixties.
In the Macintosh program "Garage Band", Fogerty explained that he liked Beethoven's Fifth Symphony and wanted to open a song with a similar intro (descending by a third), implying the way "Proud Mary" opens with the repeated C chord to A chord. Fogerty wanted to evoke male gospel harmonies, as exemplified by groups he was familiar with such as the Swan Silvertones, the Sensational Nightingales, and the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi; especially on the line, "Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river"; and in the guitar solo he did his, "best [imitation of] Steve Cropper." The basic track for "Proud Mary", as with the other songs on the album, was recorded by John Fogerty (lead guitar), Tom Fogerty (rhythm guitar), Stu Cook (bass), and Doug Clifford (drums) at RCA Studios in Hollywood, California, with John overdubbing instruments and all the vocals later.
Solomon Burke version
|Single by Solomon Burke|
|from the album Proud Mary|
|B-side||"What Am I Living For"|
I know a lot of you folks would like to know what the old Proud Mary is all about. Well, I'd like to tell you about her. She's nothing but a big old boat. You see, my forefathers used to ride the bottoms of her as stokers, cooks, and waiters, and I made a vow that when I grew up I'd take a ride on the old Proud Mary...— intro
In 1969 Solomon Burke had a small hit with his cover of the song, which was his second release for Bell and was co-produced by singer Tamiko Jones, who was being rehabilitated after a bout of polio, and was at the time Burke's fiancé and manager. Burke recalls: "We went to Muscle Shoals and recorded Proud Mary, which they didn't like at all. They thought it was stupid to record a song Proud Mary, which was already on the charts. I was explaining to them that it was a very big record, but it's a very white record, a pop record. We will redo the record, open up the doors for it to get on the r&b charts and make the black stations to play the record... It was a Solomon Burke record made in Muscle Shoals. We proved that we can make a hit record without Jerry Wexler eating sandwiches with us. This record was a hit without anybody's help. Proud Mary was only promoted by Tamiko Jones and myself." According to Mark Denning, "While that may have seemed like a bald-faced bid for pop radio play, in Burke's hands the song became a bracing tale of life in the Deep South as African-Americans searched for liberation aboard the ship that carried them as slaves and put them to undignified labor serving wealthy whites."
John Fogerty, the song's composer, was impressed by Burke's version of his song: "Two thousand miles away this man had crawled right up inside my head to learn what Proud Mary was all about. Sure, it's great when someone sings your song, but when he understands it, you listen like it was the first time." "Reworked as a celebration of black consciousness, his potent mix of gospel and country – the kind that defined his earlier sides for Atlantic – and driven by a Southern funk-like strut, .... it returned Burke to the US R&B Top 20", with the single reaching #15 on the R&B charts and #45 on the pop charts. According to Burke in a 2002 interview: "I was in Vegas for sixteen weeks at the Sands Hotel. I missed this record being a hit, because we weren't there to promote the record, we had no backing. The greatest thing I ever did was tell Ike Turner, "Hey man, you should get on this record… I think you and Tina could tear this thing up." On 24 May 1969 Burke sang his version of "Proud Mary" on American Bandstand.
Tina Turner versions
|Single by Ike & Tina Turner|
|from the album Workin' Together|
|Released||January 30, 1971|
|Recorded||1970, Los Angeles, California|
3:15 (7" version)
|Ike & Tina Turner singles chronology|
|Single by Tina Turner|
|from the album |
What's Love Got to Do with It
|Released||November 19, 1993|
|Tina Turner singles chronology|
Ike & Tina Turner first covered "Proud Mary" in 1970. This version was released as a single from their Workin' Together album and the song differed greatly from the structure of the original, but is also well known and has become one of Tina Turner's most recognizable signature songs. The Turners' version was substantially rearranged by Soko Richardson and Ike Turner. The song started off with a slow, sultry soulful tone in which Tina introduced the song and warned the audience that she and the band were gonna start it off "nice and easy" as "we never do nothing nice and easy" but said they would finish it "nice and rough". After the lyrics are first sung softly by the Turners, the song is then turned into a funk rock vamp with Tina and the Ikettes delivering gospel-influenced vocals. It reached #4 on the pop charts on March 27, 1971, two years to the week after Creedence Clearwater Revival's version was at its peak, and won the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group in 1972.
In the Tina Turner biopic, What's Love Got to Do with It, the song is performed in a timeline of events in Ike and Tina's career in which the couple are transformed from an opening act to The Rolling Stones to a major headlining act by the mid-1970s. Ike and Tina first performed a version of the song on The Ed Sullivan Show on January 11, 1970 just days before they entered the studio to record the song. The Revue later performed the song on Soul Train on April 22, 1972.
In 1988, a live solo version was included on the album Tina Live in Europe. Tina Turner later re-recorded the song in the studio for the biopic's 1993 soundtrack album of the same name. This version was released as a promotional single issued to radio stations and DJs. Tina's solo version was later included on her 2004 greatest hits album All the Best. After a contestant's performance of the song on The X Factor in 2010, this version entered the UK Singles Chart at #62 and fell to #121 the next week, it also entered the Scottish Singles Chart at #40.
Another live version was released in 2009 on the Tina Live album. It was recorded on March 21, 2009 in Arnhem, Netherlands as part of Turner's 50th Anniversary Tour. The song has now become a staple in all of Tina's live shows, including live duet versions with Beyoncé and Cher.
Formats and track listings
1993 US 7" and cassette single
- "Proud Mary (Edit Live Version) – 4:32
- "The Best" (Live) – 5:22
1993 US CD single
- "Proud Mary (Edit Live Version) – 4:32
- "Proud Mary (Edit) – 4:10
- "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)" (Live) – 4:55
- "The Best" (Live) – 5:22
Ike & Tina Turner version
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||16|
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||11|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||21|
|Italy (Hit Parade Italia)||57|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||5|
|US Billboard Hot 100||4|
|US Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles||5|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||96|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||7|
|US Billboard Hot 100||55|
Tina Turner version
|Scotland (Official Charts Company)||40|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||62|
Certifications and sales
Ike & Tina Turner version
|United States (RIAA)||Gold||1,000,000^|
|United Kingdom (BPI)||Silver||200,000|
^shipments figures based on certification alone
"Proud Mary" placed at #155 on Rolling Stone's 2004 list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Both CCR and Ike & Tina Turner's versions of the song received Grammy Hall of Fame Awards, in 1998 and 2003, respectively.
"Proud Mary" has, over the years, been covered by a number of artists. Anthony Armstrong Jones' 1969 version reached number 22 on the U.S. country charts. Also in 1969, a version recorded by the Checkmates, Ltd. and produced by Phil Spector reached number 30 on the U.K. Singles Chart and number 69 on the Billboard Hot 100. In 1970, the song was recorded by Leonard Nimoy, in his album The New World of Leonard Nimoy.
Elvis Presley began incorporating "Proud Mary" into his live shows in 1970. Presley's version is a full out rocker and is featured in his 1972 concert film Elvis on Tour and on his albums On Stage (1970) and As Recorded at Madison Square Garden (1972).
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