Inspiration can strike from anywhere. Chasing the muse is a noble and oftentimes unknowable art form that even the greatest artists in the world don’t quite understand. One day your writer’s block is so severe that nothing comes to your head, and the next you’re working at the very peak of your powers, churning out songs, paintings, lyrics, or maybe even articles (although that’s hardly an art form) with ease.
John Fogerty knows this feeling well. Here’s a man who wrote and recorded six multi-platinum albums in just three years, landed five different number two hits in the US, and proceeded to not land a single hit or multiplatinum album for another 15 years.
That wasn’t completely his fault. The story of Fogerty fighting against Fantasy Records is a long and ultimately noble one, but it torpedoed his career for more than a decade and left lasting scars. Not just for him, but for his Creedence Clearwater Revival bandmates as well. Fogerty remains in a battle against the band’s rhythm section, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford, to this day. Even worse, John’s brother Tom aligned with Fantasy Records on his deathbed, forever leaving their relationship strained.
But for better or worse, Credence Clearwater Revival were an efficient hit-making unit when John Fogerty was in charge. Their final album, 1972’s Mardi Gras, features equal contributions from Cook and Clifford (Tom Fogerty had left the group by that point), and it remains both an abysmal album and an embarrassment to the legacy of CCR. When John was in charge, the group were cranking out the goods with a remarkably strong ratio of hits-to-misses.
In 1969, the group had already established themselves as a premiere band of the psychedelic era. But for one of the band’s biggest hits, Fogerty didn’t cull inspiration from chemicals: he found his muse in a classic children’s literature character.
“[I] was kind of inspired by seeing an advertisement in the paper one day,” Fogerty explained in a live stream back in 2020. “It was an ad from Disney that said in great big letters ‘Winnie the Pooh’. Something in my brain said ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Pooh Boys’. Obviously, that was close to ‘Willy and the Poor Boys’. As I began to develop this idea it turned into music in that weird mystical, almost uncontrollable way, music comes to songwriters. Winnie the Pooh is still my favourite character who I’ve shared with my daughter Kelsy since the day she was born, though she’s growing out of it. But I’m not.”
Check out Fogerty and his family playing ‘Down on the Corner’ down below.