Down On The Corner

Album: Willy and the Poor Boys (1969)
Charted: 31 3
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  • This song tells the story of a fictional jug band, Willy and the Poor Boys, who were street musicians "playing for nickels, can't be beat." The name of the jug band was also the name of CCR's fourth straight million-selling album.

    On the cover, the "band" is seen down on the corner performing to a (very) small crowd outside the Duck Kee Market. This location had no real significance except it just happened to be half a block from the recording studio. John Fogerty recalls only ever going in there one time, and that was some time after the album's release.
  • Just as The Beatles took the role of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Creedence became Willy And The Poorboys for this album. This is the only song that played to the concept, but CCR appeared on the cover as the fictional band. The Willy And The Poorboys persona suited the group, as they really were a basic, hardworking band who paid their dues before hitting it big. They sold the jug band theme by performing this song with a washtub bass and washboard.
  • John Fogerty did all the singing on this. He recorded a bunch of vocal tracks that were overdubbed to create the effect that he was harmonizing with himself.
  • The line in this song, "Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo" is often misheard. A journalist named Phil Elwood thought the last part of the line was "Devil's on the loose," and published it in a newspaper article. John Fogerty got a big kick out of this, and as a nod to Elwood, put this line into the CCR song "Run Through the Jungle":

    They told me, "Don't go walking slow
    'Cause Devil's on the loose"
  • John Fogerty claims that bassist Stu Cook couldn't play the bass properly for the song. "Eventually, we spent six weeks rehearsing the song, but Stu still couldn't do it when we got to the recording session," Fogerty says in Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music. The problem, according to the CCR frontman, was that Cook had no rhythm. This led to a tense moment in the studio, but they eventually managed to get the song down.

Comments: 32

  • Kyle from UtahWell, the lyric may be "penny", and perhaps John was trying to sing "pen-nay", but what he ends up singing is "pinhead".
  • Caree from CaliforniaYesterday, this song was on and a patient tried to explain the meaning to me. He said it was about kids running numbers for the mob. I didn't bother pointing out the obvious... I did, explain it to my millennial coworker, how wrong he was.
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaHad to admit it took me a while to figure out all the words. But have to also admit it is one of my fav tunes. It's just plain fun, and am soo sad that John had no say over it becoming an ad for Walgreens. What is fun though is to educated those youngin's about this song who think that it really was just an ad jingle.
  • Jonsey from Kalamazoo, MiI can't find any info on when or why the lyric was changed from Rufus to Blinky, but it happened at some point early on. The original recording on the Willie and the Poor Boys album is clearly "Rufus thumps the gut bass", but early and even recent live performances and lip-sync television performances in the 70's its clearly "Blinky thumps the gut bass". Maybe is was a mistake on the original recording, or maybe they changed it for fun or political correctness, but all post-original recordings its Blinky. I'm thinking that Rufus was killed in a bizarre electrolysis accident and replaced with Blinky, the only other talented gut bass player that Willie knew, in order to keep the most popular jug band dream alive.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 20th 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival performed "Down on the Corner" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Twenty-nine days on October 19th, 1969 later it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #87 {see next post below}...
    On the same 'Bandstand' show the quartet also performed "Commotion"; at the time it was at #39 on the Top 100, the week before it had peaked at #30 {the record's A-side, "Green River", peaked at #2 {for 1 week} on September 21st, 1969}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 14th 1969 "Down On The Corner" b/w "Fortunate Son" peaked at #3 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on October 19th and spent 15 weeks on the Top 100...
    Both songs were from their album, 'Willy and the Poor Boys', the album reached #3 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    May Tom Fogerty R.I.P. (1941 - 1990) and the three remaining members of CCR; John Fogerty, Stu Cook, & Doug Clifford; will celebrate their 69th birthdays come next year.
  • Luke from Manchester, United Kingdom- Ben, Sudbury, ON
    1. how can you not think rock's enjoyable yet you like AC/DC?
    2. How can you think rock's unenjoyable when you like Coldplay, one of the most boring acts to grace the charts?

    If you have an opinion about something, don't palm it off as a fact.
  • Tom from Uitenhauge, South AfricaJust kalamazoo XD.
  • Paul from Croydon, PaI'm getting a kick out of all the comments on John's heavy accent and how they're so easily mis-heard; rightfully so, too. I agree. I'm just chuckling at what I believe to be one of the most flagrantly misunderstood CCR lines of all time: there's a "bathroom on the right" for "bad moon on the rise". Gotta' love it! In the meanstwhile, gather roun' the corner - bring a nickle and tap your feet: God bless CCR forever.
  • David from Lakeland, Flit sounds like he says "outy" in the street instead of "out in" because the over dubs run staggered or something.
    the other lyrics are misheard because he is singing with an old school blues accent.
  • Ben from Sudbury, OnI like this song because it's a song thats not rock or rap or anything that makes music unenjoyable. This song is happy and bouncy and that makes very enjoyable. I would say this song ranks number 3 on my all time favorite song list behind Country Is by Tom T. Hall and Coldplay's Viva la Vida. CCR has made a song that I will try to listen to whenever I get the chance to. I like a lot of different songs. I like Jazz and Country and ACDC, but CCR's Down on the Corner is one that really stands out as a really good song

  • Greg from North Canton, OhAll the lyrics in this song are correct. I even had my wife (younger than me) listen carefully. At first I thought John was taking liberties because the I thought the song may have been written by Jimmy Dean (the great country singer, frequent guest on "Hee Haw"), and the sausage maker). He indeed sang it, but after John composed it. Even the name "Blinky" is correct; in fact, it makes sense that John would poke fun at his base player, Stu Cook, who wore coke-bottle glasses.
  • Greg from Lagrange, Oh"blows it on the huff (or hup)", "howdy (or outy or party) in the street", "Bringin' the new girl, can't be beat", "Rooster hits the whitebow", "Rufus forms a gutface and he solos", Old Mark Twain the river's out on his kalamazoo", "And Willie goes into his dance, the devil's on kazoo", "You don't need a pinhead", "to watch the magic board". I'm 51 and my hearing must be going. One of my top 3 songs from one of my top 3 artists. I love John's word accent; it makes his songs all the better.
  • Nady from Adelaide, AustraliaWhen I was little I thought it was "Bring your knickers, tap your feet" how embarassing
  • Kris from Wichita, KsDan is right it is not "Blinky" it's Rufus. Where the hell did they get blinky? I don't know why people say it's hard to understand CCR's lyrics they're pretty clear if you just listen
  • Dan from Louisville, KyListen very closely to the second verse. It sounds most like: "RUFUS thumps the gut bass". He sure as hell does NOT sing "Blinky". That might be what's on the official sheet music, but that's not anywhere close to what he sings.
  • Eleonora from Canberra, AustraliaI came across this song only in the last few years being in the main a classical music listener. What caught my attention was the line in the second verse 'You don't need a penny just to hang around' which I misheard as 'You don't need a PINHEAD just to hang around'. I thought this was a clever theological reference to how many angels can dance on a pinhead and I was most impressed. Strange, but I can still only hear pinhead every time I play this great song.
  • Rob from Detroit, MiFyodor is indeed correct. The correct lyrics are "doubles on kazoo."
  • Errol from Santa Isabel, OtherMiriam Makeba from South Africa did a cover on her 1970 album Keep Me in Mind.
  • James from Tracy, CaThe lyrics aren't that hard to understand once you learn them. I've got Down on the Corner and Proud Mary memorized.
  • Voodoocat from Zimbabwe, United StatesMy favourite Creedence Clearwater Revival song of all time.
  • Brandon from Peoria, IlQuite possibly the most unintelligible lyrics i have ever heard. I thought Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit" was hard to understand...JEEZ. All CCR songs are like this though...and you know what...i like 'em
  • Clarke from Pittsburgh, PaOn the album cover, CCR (as Willy and the Poorboys) stand in front of the Duck Kee Market at the corner of 32nd and Peralta Streets in West Oakland, California - a few blocks from CCR's label, Fantasy Records. The market had its famous sign stolen by vandals in 1998.
  • Fyodor from Denver, CoNobody believes me when I tell them it's "doubles on kazoo" and not "devil's on the loose"! I still own the Kalamazoo guitar my mother bought me 36 years ago!!
  • Rick from Humboldt, Iathe dolls covered this on one of their early albums
  • Tim from Dalton, MaNick is right, it is "Bring a nickel, tap your feet." And Florence Henderson singing anything would turn me off of it to, Deana, you are not alone
  • Nickc from Ft. Wayne, InIsn't the lyric, "bring a nickel, tap your feet" -- not "playing for nickels, can't be beat"? My all time favorite mush mouth singer has done it to us again. :)
  • Gene from Hammond, InKalamazoo brand guitars were in fact made by the Gibson Guitar Company when their manufacturing facility was still located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
  • Deana from Indianapolis, InWhen I was about 12 or 13 I heard Florence Henderson sing this on a variety show - almost made me stop listening to CCR.
  • Paul from Greenwood, ScThis may be one of the greatest visual songs ever. When it's played, I see the corner and I see Rooster on the washboard, etc. What a great song.
  • Steve from San Jose, CaI love the reference to "his Kalamazoo" -- a very inexpensive guitar.
  • John from Greeneville, TnJimmy Page formed the mid-80's group, Willie & The Poorboys based on the concept of this song.
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