So, where do you start with this one? Finding the Top 10 John Fogerty songs is a potential minefield. Do you include just his solo work? Or do you include his time with Creedence Clearwater Revival?
Well, if you are considering John Fogerty’s best songs, how can you not recognize his time with CCW? It launched his career, and some of his best material came in that period.
I have included four of his songs from the period when Creedence were doing their thing. One of those, I must confess, is a little self-indulgent.
Hero Or Villain?
He can be viewed as either, depending on who you talk to. The driving force behind one of the most enjoyable and influential bands of the late 60s and early 70s. Creedence Clearwater Revival was no Beatles, Led Zeppelin, or similar. They just made very good, happy Country Rock records.
Fogerty was a songwriter supreme and a social activist. He had a go at the Vietnam war, later about Bush and Iraq, and other issues. He said what he thought, which is not always a good thing.
But there was another side…
Lawsuits against his fellow band members and the record label over artistic control. And the band’s inevitable, ultimate demise. There came a falling out with his brother Tom who had already left the band. That rift was never healed.
One of Tom’s last wishes was to have Creedence play together one last time before he died. John refused. That did not endear him to a few people. But we are not here to discuss the internals of what was going on. It is a bit like those who spout on about The Beatles. If you weren’t there at the time, then you didn’t know.
The same applies here. We are going to consider the music he wrote. There is quite a lot to choose from. Some of it is iconic in terms of the time it was released. So, let’s make a start with John Fogerty’s Top 10 songs.
Top 66 John Fogerty Songs
If you are looking for a 70s version of 50s Rock n Roll, then you have found it. When this came out, it was sensational and cemented CCR’s place as a serious Rock n Roll band. At the time, I thought it sounded a bit like something Little Richard would have done. It still does.
Ironically, there was a lawsuit for plagiarism issued against Fogerty by the people who owned the rights to “Good Golly Miss Molly.” Ridiculous, under that interpretation, you would have to take out every three-chord 12-bar blues song from the 50s and 60s.
Fogerty’s growling voice, the driving rhythm, and some 50s guitar solos, it is all here. It came out in 1970 from the album Cosmo’s Factory and reached #1 in Holland and Belgium, #2 on the American chart, and #8 in the UK. It’s a simple song by some standards, but it is often the simple ones that are the best. This is modern-day Rock and Roll at its very best.
Deja Vu (All Over Again)
This is a track that was placed as the opener in his sixth solo album of the same name, released in 2004. This is John in “protest” mode as he lays into Bush and the Iraq war. He draws comparisons with Vietnam and makes the point that the lessons of that disaster haven’t been learned.
It is not allowed for me to include actual lyrics for this song here. But, just listen to the song as he talks about the news networks “keeping the score” on the body count as the dead are brought home. As he says in the lyrics, “Haven’t we heard all this before?” A classic piece of Fogerty writing, and with the jangling acoustic guitar and the band joining him, it becomes one of his greatest tracks.
It was released as a single but failed to make any chart impression. But then, he hadn’t had any main chart success since early 1986. The album reached #23 on the American Album chart and was a huge success in Scandinavia.
Eye Of The Zombie
Speaking of his last single success, “Eye of the Zombie” was it. The song reached #81 on the American chart in 1986. It was taken from the album of the same name.
This was his fourth solo album, released in 1986, which was not well received by music critics. It was the first solo album he made that also included a backing band. There were no former Creedence members involved, in case you might be wondering.
This is a different type of John Fogerty. As you can sense from the title, it is quite a dark song, lyrically and musically. Some nice bass and contrasting guitar rhythms give it an edge.
Rocking All Over The World
Okay, hands up, who thought this was a Status Quo song? Listening to it, you would think it is. And, of course, Quo played it to open the Live Aid concerts at Wembley in London in 1985. But you would not be right. This is a John Fogerty song. It was included in his second solo album John Fogerty.
It was released as a single in 1975. The single reached #27 on the American chart. In many ways, this was almost like a “return to Creedence.” It features many of the sounds and influences you would have heard in the early 70s. A great track even if the song itself is quite basic, it is worth its place here.
Up Around The Bend
Back now to Creedence Clearwater Revival for this track. Some songs can be identified by their guitar intros within seconds of them starting. “All Right Now” by Free and “Whole Lotta Love” by Led Zeppelin come to mind, amongst many others. And this is another one. Released in 1970 from the album Cosmo’s Factory, this is just pure unadulterated we don’t care Creedence.
This was one of their great songs released at a time when most thought they were at their best. It is a song that has been played on radio stations all around the world. And it is rightly recognized as one of the band’s all-time classics, as well as a classic John Fogerty song.
“Up Around The Bend” reached #4 in the American singles chart. But, it did even better in the “Creedence crazy” UK, where it reached #3. It reached the top spot in Holland and Canada. Furthermore, no list of the Top 10 John Fogerty songs would be complete without this track.
Almost Saturday Night
Back to the solo performer now and his 1975 album, John Fogerty. It was released as a single but didn’t do so well, peaking at #78 on the American chart.
It is a medium-tempo Rock n Roll song about someone looking forward to the weekend. British Rock n’ Roller Dave Edmunds did better with it when he covered the song in 1975, reaching #54 in America and #58 in the UK.
Fogerty took a long break from 1976 to 1984, and the Centerfield album was his return. This is a track from that album. It was used as the B-side for “Rock and Roll Girls” at first. However, its popularity allowed it to be recognized as a single in its own right. As such, it reached #44 on the American chart.
As a song about baseball, it endeared itself to the American public but meant nothing anywhere else. A very 50s-style song, it is almost a throwback to his very earliest songwriting.
From a song with a limited potential appeal to the opposite end of the scale. This was an international hit that was played to death at the time, and still is in some places. And, why not? Wherever you go, just about everyone knows “Proud Mary.”
Taken from Bayou Country, the band’s second album, it was the song that created the Creedence legend and put them on the music map. In turn, it has remained one of the most popular John Fogerty songs ever.
Forming an image…
I always found it interesting that they were associated with the South when they came from California. It was an image they tried to cultivate over the years. This is a song that possibly started that image with its deep Southern attachment. “Proud Mary” was released in 1969 and reached #2 in America and #8 in the UK.
The song is about a young boy in the South leaving a decent job to follow his dream even though he has to start in poverty. The river is probably the Mississippi, as a reference is made to New Orleans.
There have been some notable covers, not the least of which is by that force of nature we call Tina Turner. She, in some ways, made the song her own in her stage shows. One of the greatest John Fogerty songs that will last as long as music is played.
The Old Man Down The Road
Another track from the Centerfield album. This restored Fogerty as a Top 10 artist reaching #10 on the American chart and #10 in Australia.
It was released in 1985 and bears the hallmarks of the early CCR days. Even the way he sings takes you back to the late 60s. It is a great Country Rock number that chugs along at a great pace. This is John Fogerty at his best, guitar and all.
Now, to the end of the Top 10 John Fogerty songs, and my little piece of self-indulgence as my pick for the Top John Fogerty song. There aren’t many songs that the first time you hear them, you go, “Wow!” This was one for me, and I have no idea why.
I had heard “Proud Mary” and “Bad Moon Rising” and played them both in the resident band I worked with at the time. But the next song we heard in the UK was this epic track. And that guitar just set it all off.
Our guitarist had a Rickenbacker 325 and a Fender black panel super reverb amp. Getting the sound of “Green River” wasn’t hard for him.
A Holiday Camp
The song has this southern “bayou” flavor that emanates from every note. However, it is really all about a holiday camp the Fogerty family went to every year. For me, the ultimate John Fogerty song. The voice, the guitar, the tempo, it’s all here in three minutes of magic.
Rock and Roll Girls
Walking in a Hurricane
Change in the Weather
Hot Rod Heart
Almost Saturday Night
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
Born on the Bayou
Who’ll Stop the Rain?
Down on the Corner
Lookin’ Out My Back Door
Up Around the Bend
Long as I Can See the Light
Wrote a Song for Everyone
Joy of My Life
Swamp River Days
Deja Vu (All Over Again)
Bring It Down to Jelly Roll
Don’t You Wish It Was True
Vanz Kant Danz
Between the Lines
Walking on the Water
Keep On Chooglin’
The Midnight Special
The Working Man.
Rollin’ On the River
Run Through the Jungle
I Saw It on TV
I Can’t Take It No More
More John Fogerty Songs
- I Will Walk With You
- Big Train (From Memphis)
- Who’ll Stop the Rain
- Cotton Fields
- It Came Out of the Sky
- Rockin’ All Over the World
- Centerfield (1985)
- Rock and Roll Girls (1985)
- I Saw It on TV (1985)
- Walking in a Hurricane (1986)
- Blue Moon Nights
- Hoodoo Man
- Rambunctious Boy
- Wicked Old Witch
- Mr. Greed
In the Mood for Straight Up Rock Music?
Well, check out our thoughts on the Best 80s Rock Songs, the Best 70s Rock Songs, the Best 90s Rock Songs, the Saddest Rock Songs, or the Best Classic Rock Songs for more hard-hitting song selections.
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Top 66 John Fogerty Songs – Final Thoughts
Was John Fogerty really that good? Well, in context, yes, he was. Of course, he was no John Lennon or Bob Dylan. But he wrote songs that meant a lot to him. And that meant a lot to the people. He created a sound, and it didn’t just happen. It was almost like he could hear in his head what he wanted and wrote songs for it.
I have to say that, in my view, he was at his best with Creedence. The whole idea that four California kids could take you to the bayou or down the Mississippi was extraordinary.
However, he did write some good stuff after, and some of that I have included. I am sure there will be some songs others will think I should have included. But it’s all subjective, isn’t it?
A Personal Note
I mentioned that I had played in a resident band that played a few of the early CCW songs. In 1970, they came to England to the Royal Albert Hall in London. We drove the 400-mile return journey from Manchester to see them.
I can only say they were just excellent. What is a shame is that it just didn’t go on a bit longer. Whether as a solo artist or as the frontman of CCR, he was a great singer-songwriter who has given us plenty. And, thankfully, he’s still going.
Until next time, happy listening.