January 7, 2021
John Fogerty, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and the musical brawn behind Creedence Clearwater Revival, released his first new song in eight years this week. Titled, “Weeping in the Promised Land,” Fogerty’s new single makes a return to politically charged lyricism, familiar waters for Fogerty, who in 1969 wrote the theme song to every future Vietnam movie, “Fortunate Son.”
The veteran rock star has long been outspoken against President Donald Trump, most recently issuing a cease-and-desist order against the president for his use of “Fortunate Son” at political rallies. An ironic move, given that much of Trump’s foreign policy was uniform with the ethos that drives Fogerty’s anthemic anti-Vietnam war rocker.
Fogerty’s lyrics in “Weeping in the Promised Land” are derived from recent news, saturated with references to various current events in politics. The song’s title feels borrowed from Bruce Springsteen. But unlike Springsteen’s latest music, Letter to You – which was entirely devoid of the outspoken Democrat’s political musings – Fogerty’s return comes raveled in partisan commentary.
Culling from the latest news stories, “Weeping in the Promised Land” tries to obfuscate its political fixation by portraying President Trump as “the Pharaoh.” The song’s lyrics make thinly veiled references to anything from Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, “With dread in their eyes, all the nurses are crying / So much sorrow, so much damned / Pharaoh keep a-preaching but he never had a plan” to Anthony Fauci’s feud with Trump, “Sick and the weak, he dancing on their bones / Pharaoh shouting down the medicine man.”
Continuing to lyrically portray President Trump as “the Pharaoh,” Fogerty lambasts the police – echoing Stevie Wonder’s recent return to music. Referring to law enforcement as the “Pharaoh’s army,” Fogerty goes on to invoke to the deaths of George Floyd “Out in the street on your neck with a knee / the people are cryin your words / I can’t breathe / and the white judge say been no crime here today,” and Breanna Taylor, “Shoot you in your bed just like they done before.”
In an accompanying interview with Rolling Stone Magazine, Fogerty compared his experience through CCR’s breakup to President Donald Trump’s loss in the 2020 federal election, “It’s kind of like being a rock star in a band and then the band breaks up.” Relating Trump’s wildly popular rallies to his concerts, Fogerty added, “I used to stand in front of 30,000 or 40,000 people and they were all cheering for me. I know what that is. I understand the emotion he’s feeling. I’m trying not to sound like a basher — more like trying to understand the situation. I think he enjoys the rallies very much.”
This wasn’t Fogerty’s first time referring to politicians as monarchs of ancient Egypt. On CCR’s 1969 album, Green River, Fogerty penned one of his most beautiful country-blues ballads, “Wrote a Song for Everyone.” Reprimanding politicians for the persisting war in Vietnam, Fogerty wrote, “Pharaoh’s spin the message, ’round and ’round the truth. / They could have saved a million people; how can I tell you?” But unlike the lyrics in “Weeping in the Promised Land,” which would feel more comfortable amongst a pile of MSNBC show notes than a Creedence Clearwater record, on “Wrote a Song for Everyone,” Fogerty didn’t overindulge in his political penchants. Instead, he kept his references vague – timeless and applicable to any era.
Years later, on “Weeping in the Promised Land,” it isn’t only Fogerty’s songwriting that has noticeably waned, but also his voice. Withered by the merciless passing of time, he is unable to reproduce that signature raspy howl from his younger days. And so, Fogerty does what most artists do in their later years: he orchestrates an elegiac ballad he can comfortably sing within his vocal limitations. “Weeping in the Promised Land” strips away the swampy, rollicking fun that Fogerty’s most memorable songs exude. It sounds more downbeat, somber Springsteen than Creedence Clearwater.
Fogerty tried to further embellish the song’s poignancy by adding choral backing vocals to the mix, elevating the sound with a gospel flair. But despite everything, the song fails to leave a memorable mark. Firmly anchored to the outgoing President, “Weeping in the Promised Land” comes off as Fogerty aimlessly airing his political grievances rather than trying to create music.
Originally Published at The Daily Wire