Song 164: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Long As I Can See the Light” (1970)

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Creedence Clearwater Revival is a band that I think is constantly undervalued. We’ve all heard their hits so many times that they blend into the background, and there are so many hits. It’s astounding what this band did in so short an amount of time; in only five years, CCR made “Who’ll Stop the Rain?”, “Born on the Bayou,” “Proud Mary,” “Down on the Corner,” “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”, “Fortunate Son,” and my favorite Creedence song, “Long As I Can See the Light.”

On his recent appearance on the WTF podcast, John Fogerty said this song came from a very dark time and place. He didn’t elaborate about that time and place, but he didn’t really need to: it’s clear that the narrator desperately needs a home, even as he’s leaving his home behind. It’s a sweet and sad song, one that recalls the mythical wanderers of the blues and adds that image of a lone candle in a window. It’s both epic and intimate in the way it blends the apocryphal and the personal, and Fogerty, howling like an animal in the wilderness, sings the hell out of it. What a gorgeous song.

As Marc Maron mentioned on WTF, there’s something timeless about Creedence. We associate the band with the late sixties and early seventies, but (topical songs like “Fortunate Son” aside) these songs could be from any era, from any period in our collective consciousness as Americans. These are songs about what it’s like to live in this country, a crazy place with bayous, rock stars, rich boys getting out of senseless wars, and riverboats. Fogerty clearly loves this country, but he also seems to understand that it’s sometimes a very strange place to be.

One more great thing about Creedence Clearwater Revival: they sound great in a car. I think The Dude would agree with me there.

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