50 years ago this month CCR released Willy and the Poor Boys, their third great LP of 1969. Over at The Ringer, I wrote about the band’s legacy, the draft, and the forgotten fault lines of class that animated this angriest of responses to the Vietnam War.
There is much “protest music” associated with the Vietnam era—some of it thoroughly moving and some of it preachy and wretched. It would be a profound misnomer to characterize Creedence songs like “Fortunate Son” and “Effigy” as protest material. They were howls of existential terror, a terror of what had been narrowly avoided and a terror of what people just like him had been conscripted into. Even fantasias like the genially paranoid “It Came Out of the Sky” and the beatifically angry “Down on the Corner” felt like transmissions operating on a singular, sometimes menacing frequency. You could be friends with this music, and being its enemy carried some degree of danger.