“Born on the Bayou” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Born on the Bayou” is the type of song which is apparently famous due to its acoustic qualities, because lyric-wise not much is really being said. Well actually there is a narrative, albeit a terse one whose points don’t necessarily connect being them all having transpired while the vocalist lived in the titular location.
Part of the reason for this lack of congruence, if you will, is that “Born on the Bayou” is not a true story. Its writer, John Fogerty, was raised in El Cerrito, which by the looks of things is along the lines of your average Californian city. Meanwhile, “the bayou” can be taken as a reference to the backwoods of the Deep South. So basically, what we’re dealing with here is Fogerty’s fantasy of growing up in such a place.
The logical implication would be that said envisioning was heavily influenced by popular entertainment. So for instance, the vocalist and his faithful dog are depicted “chasing down a hoodoo”, which, according to John’s explanation, is a reference to a spirit. And that’s not to say that a person may not run into a spirit here and there in the bayou. But chances are that residents don’t actually go about pursuing them with their dogs.
The Father Figure
Also, there’s the father figure holding down the first verse. Remember that this was during an era in television history where shows were very nuclear-family oriented, complete with the responsible dad.
And that’s not to imply that John didn’t have his own loyal father. But here, you see the said man plays a very advisory role, setting the tone for the narrative – if only the lyrics stuck to one specific storyline.
4th of July
The 4th of July, another traditional piece of idyllic Americana, also plays a role, though not necessarily a prominent one.
And the third verse is where the vocalist expresses, once again using colorful storytelling, how he ‘wishes he were back on the bayou’, which can be taken as the thesis sentiment of this track.
Interesting to note is that throughout it all, he doesn’t make any references to music. However, there is a touch of romance embedded into the third verse.
So if there’s one thing that can be ascertained, it’s this. John Fogerty perceived childhood on the bayou as being sort of an idyllic place to come of age.
When was “Born on the Bayou” released?
This track is derived from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s second album, the relatedly-titled “Bayou Country”.
This song, as originally issued on 5 January 1969, served as the B-side to the single “Proud Mary”. As such, “Born on the Bayou” doesn’t have much of a chart history to speak of. However, it is one of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s signature tunes. Also, it is reportedly one of Fogerty’s personal favorites.
Notable Performance of “Born on the Bayou”
This tune also has a place in history as the result of being the opening song of CCR’s setlist at the legendary Woodstock Music and Art Fair on the date of 17 August 1969.
Some More Fun Facts
There’s a couple of different stories as to the origins of “Born on the Bayou”. But what is known is that Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) frontman Fogerty is the sole-credited writer and producer. CCR was rounded out by his older brother, rhythmist Tom Fogerty (1941-1990), bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford.
Fogerty has implied that he wrote the song at a time before the band had blown up. Indeed CCR’s debut album, “Creedence Clearwater Revival”, wasn’t much of a chart success. But it did eventually achieve RIAA-platinum status in 1990, almost two decades after the group had disbanded.
Fogerty was 23 years old when this song came out.