Born on the Bayou

Album: Bayou Country (1969)
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  • Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty, who wrote the song, had never actually been to a bayou when he wrote the song - he researched it in encyclopedias and imagined a bayou childhood for the song's narrative. Fogerty, who is from the very unswamplike Berkeley, California, got his first look at a bayou courtesy of John Fred, the one-hit wonder who sang "Judy In Disguise (with Glasses)." Fred was from Louisiana, and when Creedence played a show in Baton Rouge in 1969, he met Fogerty at a rehearsal and offered to take him to a real bayou. They drove 15 minutes to Bayou Forche, where they ate some crabs and crayfish, giving Fogerty the idea for this song.
  • In Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitar Songs" issue, Fogerty explained that the song originated when Creedence Clearwater Revival were booked at San Francisco's Avalon Ballroom in 1968. Said Fogerty: "We were the #7 act on the bill, bottom of the totem pole. And as the first guys to go on, we were the last to soundcheck before they opened the doors. It was like, 'Here's the drums, boom, boom; here's the guitar, clank, clank.' I looked over at the guys and said, 'Hey, follow this!' Basically, it was the riff and the attitude of 'Born on the Bayou,' without the words."

    Drummer Doug Clifford remembers it happening in the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • Fogerty says the song was inspired by gospel music and popular movies. He explained in Bad Moon Rising: The Unofficial History of Creedence Clearwater Revivial, "'Born on the Bayou' was... about a mythical childhood and a heat-filled time, the Fourth of July. I put it in the swamp where, of course, I had never lived. I was trying to be a pure writer, no guitar in hand, visualizing and looking at the bare walls of my apartment. 'Chasing down a hoodoo.' Hoodoo is a magical, mystical, spiritual, non-defined apparition, like a ghost or a shadow, not necessarily evil, but certainly otherworldly."

    Hoodoo was the name of a 1976 solo album by Fogerty that he never released. By his own account, it was terrible. A couple of singles leaked out, though. Unfortunately for Fogerty, at least one ("You've got the Magic") can be found on Youtube.
  • Fogerty considers this his favorite CCR song. He performed it on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in November 2005. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ken - Louisville, KY
  • This was the first song Creedence played in their set at Woodstock in 1969. They were a big part of the festival, performing 11 songs on the second day. The band first hit the stage at 3:30 am when the majority of the Woodstock crowd was zonked out. Fogerty recalled:

    "We were ready to rock out and we waited and waited and finally it was our turn ... there were a half million people asleep. These people were out. It was sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.

    And this is the moment I will never forget as long as I live: A quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic [lighter], and in the night I hear, 'Don't worry about it, John. We're with you.' I played the rest of the show for that guy."
  • The Foo Fighters covered this song at "Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast" following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bert - Pueblo, NM
  • Doug Clifford said "Born on the Bayou" is his favorite CCR song, "bar none."
  • "Born on the Bayou," "Proud Mary," and "Choolgin'" were all connected in John Fogerty's mind. In Bad Moon Rising, he said, "I was writing these at night, and I remember that Bobby Kennedy got killed during this time. I saw that late at night. They kept showing it over and over. 'Bayou' and 'Proud Mary' and 'Chooglin'' were all kind of cooking at that time. I'd say that was when the whole swamp bayou myth was born—right there in a little apartment in El Cerrito. It was late at night and I was probably delirious from lack of sleep. I remember that I thought it would be cool if these songs cross-referenced each other. Once I was doing that, I realized that I was kind of working on a mythical place."
  • This is referenced in Stephen King's 1978 short story collection, Night Shift. It plays on the truck stop jukebox in the story "Trucks."

Comments: 11

  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaActually John lived in El Cerrito, although i believe he was born in Beserkly(or Berkley as it's real name is). have also heard the story about it coming at a sound check. if you get a chance watch his interview with Dan Rather, and read his book.
  • Ed from Lebanon, PaA hoodoo has also been described as a ghost, so who knows?
  • Marijuana from Really South, Neutral Zonehoodoo actually is an old southern term meaning racoon not an african american
  • Martin Sheen from Saigon, --Was used in Born On The Fourth of July
  • Joe from Frankfort, Ilthis song is actually about john chasing an African American threw the woods. the line chasing a hoodoo there is from the grate American novel Huckleberry Finn. Jim in the book says a famous line Hoodoo there when Huck sneaks up on him and Fogerty say he is cashing him threw the woods with his dog
  • Spencer from Las Vegas, NvJames from Elizabethtown, it is not "Chooglin'".
    It is indeed "Keep On Chooglin". I know this because it is one of my favorite songs by CCR. That and Green River.
  • Spencer from Las Vegas, NvJames from Elizabethtown, it is not "Chooglin'".
    It is indeed Keep On Chooglin". I know this because it is one of my favorite songs by CCR. That and Green River.
  • James from Elizabethtown, Ky"CHOOGLIN' on down to New Orleans" - a reference to another, lesser known CCR song called "Chooglin'"
  • Tim from Michigan City, InThe lyrics are "runnin' through the backwoods BARE, and I can still hear my old hound dog barkin', chasin' down a hoodoo THERE".
  • Seb from --Reminds me of "Mama Told Me Not To Come" by Tom Jones just in the intro...

    Awesome song though. Probably my favourite CCR song, in fact, except perhaps for "Fortunate Son".
  • Sled from St. Louis, Ne"running through the backwoods BAY"

    "wish I was a fast freight train
    I'm talking choogin' on down to New Orleans"
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