AUK’s Chain Gang: Creedence Clearwater Revival “Born on the Bayou”

Last week’s track was ‘Miles and Miles of Texas’ by Asleep at the Wheel and it would have been pretty easy to stay in Texas as there is no shortage of links inspired by the song title alone, but instead we are going to continue our travels in the southern States and head to Louisiana.

The opening line of ‘Miles and Miles of Texas’ is “I was born in Louisiana down on the ol bayou” which prompted me to link to the swamp rock classic ‘Born on the Bayou’ by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The direct connection is pretty straightforward but the back story prompted more research based on the fact that John Fogarty of CCR wrote ‘Born on the Bayou’ but he was born in Berkeley, California and had never even been there when he wrote the song.

Miles and Miles of Texas’ was actually written by Diana Johnston, who also wrote ‘Can’t Shake The Sands of Texas From My Shoes’ by Gene Autry. She is listed as a “US songwriter from Texas” and was the mother of the legendary record producer Bob Johnston of “Is it rolling, Bob?” fame on Nashville Skyline, who was born in Hillsboro, Texas. All of which suggests that like John Fogerty, she probably wasn’t born anywhere near a bayou. From this rambling journey it seems reasonable to conclude that you should never let facts get in the way of decent songwriting mythology.

Born on the Bayou’ is the opening track on ‘Bayou Country’. The song was apparently John’s favourite CCR track; although it was the B-side to the single ‘Proud Mary’, it was one of the three tracks he chose to play when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and it was also the song that opened their set at Woodstock 1969.

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