- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

John Fogerty

Deja Vu All Over Again#

Geffen Records

There’s an unpopular war on, and Creedence Clearwater Revival songs are playing in political TV ads, so it’s appropriate John Fogerty himself has returned to the scene.

The Americana songster works infrequently — his last release was 1997’s Grammy-winning “Blue Moon Swamp” — and it’s been to his distinct credit that he never has taken the undoubtedly lucrative CCR reunion bait.

Luck, and the restraint of the classic rock band’s two remaining original members, have prevented a latter-day Doors-like situation, wherein a young singer is asked to fill unfillable shoes.

So, is the old man still down the road, or is Mr. Fogerty just roadkill?

With its sepia-toned cover shot of a young Bay Area longhair riding a motorcycle (that would be Mr. Fogerty), “Deja Vu All Over Again,” only his sixth album in more than 30 years, may look and sound like an exercise in nostalgia. But the opening statement of the title track essentially says, Hey, it’s not my fault history is repeating itself: “Day after day another Momma’s crying/She’s lost her precious child to a war that has no end.”

One can quibble with Mr. Fogerty’s line that the Iraq war “started with a whisper,” just like Vietnam before it (didn’t it start with a long, premeditated bang?) Yet the subject of war never comes up again. Mr. Fogerty has moved on to singing about nagging women, to-die-for rhubarb pie, swamp witches and the sublimity of fatherhood.

The album’s only other hint of social protest comes with “Nobody’s Here Anymore,” a lament about our brave new impersonal world and technological atomization.

“Deja Vu” is short and punchy and stylistically varied; the song sequence, in fact, suggests Mr. Fogerty used a sort of formula schematic to assemble it. Insert modern-sounding punk rock here (“She’s Got Baggage”), insert Carl Perkins rockabilly here (“Honey Do”), insert bluegrass here (“I Will Walk With You”), then call Jerry Douglas for a Dobro overdub and insert CCR-ish swamp rock here (“Wicked Old Witch”). Finally, you wrap things up with some mystical lyrics and lots of Hendrix licks (“In the Garden”).

This is always how Mr. Fogerty has operated, to some extent. The great trick of radio nuggets such as “Proud Mary” was that they could fool you into thinking a bunch of Bay Area boys were actually from the Bayou.

And with his own guitar-playing sounding more adept than in the CCR-era — renewed confidence in his chops was one of the reasons he reemerged in ‘97 — Mr. Fogerty pulls off an electro-bluegrass song like”Sugar-Sugar (In My Life)” with a young man’s ease.

Mr. Fogerty closes the neo-Luddite song “Nobody’s Here Anymore” with a classroom vision of a student and a teacher. “She’s too tired to snag his mind/He’s lookin’ at the future, she’s looking way behind.”

He’s talking about a failure to connect, but, when applied to his own music, the line could be taken as a sign of vitality. He refuses to dredge up the ghost of CCR and prefers the here and now. With his periodic solo efforts, he delves even further back to the wellspring of American roots music.

If it’s possible, Mr. Fogerty is looking at the future, while looking way behind.

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