Album: Bayou Country (1969)
Charted: 8 2
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  • Lyrics
  • Left a good job in the city
    Workin' for the man ev'ry night and day
    And I never lost one minute of sleepin'
    Worryin' 'bout the way things might have been

    Big wheel keep on turnin'
    Proud Mary keep on burnin'
    Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river

    Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis
    Pumped a lot of pane down in New Orleans
    But I never saw the good side of the city
    'Til I hitched a ride on a river boat queen

    Big wheel keep on turnin'
    Proud Mary keep on burnin'
    Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river
    Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river

    If you come down to the river
    Bet you gonna find some people who live
    You don't have to worry 'cause you have [if you got] no money
    People on the river are happy to give

    Big wheel keep on turnin'
    Proud Mary keep on burnin'
    Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river
    Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river

    Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river
    Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river
    Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the riverWriter/s: WILLIE NELSON
    Publisher: CONCORD MUSIC GROUP, INC , Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC
    Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind
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Comments: 62

  • Yuk from UsaPumped a lot of propane in New Orleans in the sixties?
    More likely it was 'tane (octane, in gasoline)
  • Kawa from Tokyo, JapanHi Music lovers,

    I think that the idea of the lyrics if the song 'Proud Mary' came from the theme song of TV series 'Rawhide' in 50s to 60s. 'Rawhide' was an American Western TV series aired from 1959 to 1966. It was a very popular TV series and it was aired in Japan, too. I think the songwriter of the song,'Proud Mary', John Fogerty, must have been watching this TV series at that time. Because the lyrics of the song has including a very impressive phrase 'Rollin', rollin', rollin' on the river'. It reminds me of the theme of 'Rawhide'. REALLY! I think that John as a kid thought the theme of 'Rawhide' was very cool and that he wanted to write a song like this someday in the future. And he did in 1969 as writing the song 'Proud Mary'. By the way, I think that the intro of 'Proud Mary' came from the intro from the song 'Sunshine Of Your Love' written and played by the British rock band called 'Cream' in 1967. So let's take a look at both 'The theme of Rawhide and 'Sunshin Of Love' compairing the song 'Proud Mary' AND sing!
  • Jennifur Sun from RamonaLOVE this song because I LOVE LOVE LOVE old paddlewheeleers. Have rode the two in Tahoe and didn't want to get off. Am not crazy about the Tina version either but that's ok. Thanks John for such a great tune.
  • Sam from Nychmmm, aren't these the same guys who wanna know if you ever seen the rain? lol uhhh yea, this song is about smoking a joint. if anyone ever seen a pot rolling machine, you'll know what they mean by "big wheel keeps on turning". If you haven't seen a pot rolling machine, you can just drop in on any smoke shop and ask to see a Zig Zag.. cost you around 10 bux lol. then you too will find yourself "rollin, rollin rollin" and understand why your "proud mary keeps on burning" lol. Have a good day.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 16th 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the acts* to appear at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, California...
    Three days later on January 19th CCR's "Proud Mary" would enter Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #62, a little over six weeks later on March 2nd it would peak at #2 for three weeks...
    {See 11th post below}...
    * Other acts on the bill were Fleetwood Mac and Albert Collins.
  • Johnny from Boston, MaI love this song as I do all John Fogerty songs and I think the guitar solo is one of the best of all time--short and sweet.
  • Garett from IlAlas, it is sir Walter Scott as author of the poem. My apologies sir W.
  • Garett from IlProud Maisie, by Longfellow, preceded the riverboat. Maisie, as a name, dropped from history, mostly, for practical reasons. I can hear the children taunting:
    Don't see Maisie
    She is crazy
    Mind is hazy
    Will is lazy
    If you fancy
    Go see Nancy
    Soon you'll learn to
    Do her pants - eee!
    Still in the oral tradition, our culture replaced the name with Mary, and it is a short poem.
    In the poem, Mary is so proud, too proud, that she learns her only marriage bed will be her grave, and the shovel is mentioned that digs it. A steamboat broiler looks like hell itself, the overwhelming fire and heat. Mean work for any man. What deserves to be shoveled into hell itself? Someone with an intractable sin, like Proud Mary. Hey let's name the boat that. She should keep on burnin after all, right?

  • Bob Wallace from California"Proud Mary" is apparently riverboat slang for dried horse manure which was sometimes used as fuel on steamboats. It burns hot and clean (think buffalo chips for the pioneers and dried cattle manure commonly used South Asia).

    http://www.steamboats.org/forum/steamboats-history/2273-steamboat-terminology-slang.html

    In an interview on American Roots with a riverboat captain the captain says that there were a number of things burned under boilers in order to get the temperature up quickly. Pine knots, hams and Proud Mary were some.

    Big wheel keep on turnin'
    Proud Mary keep on burnin'
  • Markantney from BiloxeMay 2015
    Susan, I'm from the Deeep South (MS) and I'm amazed that CCR doesn't have a Southern Background? How their songs can sound as Southern as Lynyrd Skynyrd is freakin amazing to me:):)

    And to the folks harping on the "Drugs", say the song IS about Drugs, now what?
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 9th 1969, Creedence Clearwater Revival performed "Proud Mary" on the CBS-TV program "The Ed Sullivan Show"...
    At the time the song was in its second of three weeks at #2 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, that would also be its peak position on the chart...
    {See fourth post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 16th 1971, a video of Ike & Tina Turner performing "Proud Mary" was aired on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    Eight days later on January 24th, 1971 the duo's covered version entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #99 {See posts below for more chart info}.
  • Susan from Atlanta, GaLuke from Manchester, I think I love you! It annoys me no end that on virtually every song covered in this site, some proud soul showing off his or her new lobotomy declares the song to be about drugs.
    I love CCR, and John Fogerty is one of three concerts left on my bucket list. I remember being shocked to find that they were originally from California and not, as they alluded in various ways, the bayou area or somewhere along the Mississippi River. Thanks to whoever explained that faux "Cajun" accent John was trying to affect with "toinin'" and "boinin'" in this song.
  • Markantney from Biloxi, MsJune, 2014:
    1. I don't care if it's about Drugs, Dishes, Gasoline, Typewriters, or even Pet Rocks,..it's a great song, both CCRs and Ike and Tina's Versions.

    2. I like to listen to CCRs and see Ike and Tina's performed.

    3. Back to #1, based on the issues of the day (back then); it's hard to believe it's not about drugs but again, I could care less if it is or isn't.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 2nd 1969, "Proud Mary" by CCR peaked at #2 (for 3 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top chart... (See post below)...
    Was the quartet's first in a string of nine straight records to make the Top 10; after 'Mary' came "Bad Moon Rising (#2 for 1 week), "Green River" (#2 for 1 week), "Down On The Corner" (#3), "Travlin' Band" (#2 for 2 weeks), "Up Round The Bend" (#4), "Lookin' Out My Back Door" (#2 for 1 week), "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" (#8), and finally "Sweet Hitch Hiker" (#6)...
    On June 4th, 1972 "Someday Never Comes" peaked at #25 (for 2 weeks); and that broke their streak of Top 10 records...
    And four years later in 1976 their covered version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" was their last Top 100 record, it reached #43.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 19th 1969, "Proud Mary" by Creedence Clearwater Revival entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 2nd it peaked at #2 (for 3 weeks) and spent 14 weeks on the Top 100 (and 7 of those 14 weeks were on the Top 10)...
    In its first week at #2, the #1 record was "Everyday People" by Sly and the Family Stone and for its 2nd & 3rd week, "Dizzy" by Tommy Roe was in the top spot...
    Was their first of five #2s on the Top 100...
    "Proud Mary" was track three of side two on the group's second studio album, 'Bayou Country', the album reached #7 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart...
    Tom Fogerty passed away on September 6th, 1990 at the young age of 48...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 11th 1970 Ike and Tina Turner performed "Proud Mary" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    One year later on January 24th, 1971 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on March 21st, 1971 it peaked at #4 (for 1 week) and spent 13 weeks on the Top 100...
    CCR's original version peaked at #2 (for 3 weeks) two years earlier on March 2nd, 1969...
    And also in 1969 two covered versions made the Top 100; Solomon Burke (#45) and Checkmates, Ltd. (#69).
  • Luke from Manchester, United KingdomStop attaining songs to drugs unless they ARE about drugs. It's embarrassing for people with brains.
  • Karl from Seattle, WaI think this song very clearly draws connections to living an alternative lifestyle and doing drugs. It's about being a nomad, moving about a lot, experiencing the "high" life with drugs instead of the conventional finish highschcool maybe get a degree get a job get married, kids dogs and a house to live for the rest of your life in. It's about not fitting in the "system". And people who don't fit in are a lot more likely to smoke weed.

    "Proud mary keep on burning"? People who smoke weed are often very affectionate of it. There's a million songs out there who personalize marijuana as an object or a person i.e.e Mary janes last dance from tom petty.

    "Rolling, rolling, rolling"? Hard to believe a guy who probably smoked all day and was probably rolling a joint as he wrote the song didn't write this intentionally, right after proud mary keep on burning.

    Pumped a lot of painpane might just be a play on words. Heroin initially gives a high but i bet it can be painful for someone without resources to try to deal with the addiction when they are all out of money and need another dose, maybe living in the street. Maybe pain wasn't the ideal word to describe itbut he needed to make it ambiguous with pane.

    Now what really closes the deal

    "
    If you come down to the river,
    Bet you gonna find some people who live.
    You dont have to worry cause you have no money,
    People on the river are happy to give."

    meaning - If you decide to give the hippie community (general umbrella term for people who believe in alternative lifestyles, not specific people anywhere) a chance i bet you would leave with a good impression. I bet you are gonna find some people who live good lives despite not following the norm of society that is equating money with the ability to achieve happiness.

    River = river of life, the flow of the universe and everyday life, a river is constantly changing and every second its flow and format is different, thought sometimes it might seem slow and at other times fast. Like life.

    Now, i like other interpretations of the song too, and im not trying to put them down. Songs can have multiple meanings. But to think that the author didn't intentionally reference drugs in this song is like being in a room with an elephant and deciding to close yours eyes and say theres no elephant. It is there.

    Also, it doesnt matter what the band said or didnt say. There could be a million reasons why he would rather give an answer in an interview rather than another, and Rob, Novi, MI - Did you write this straight from the DEA's headquarters? On your lunch break maybe? "Stop thinking and just hear", oh dear.
  • Meocyber from Alma, Co I've allways interpreted this as a blue collar working river man's song. He kind of spoke to the lonelines, along with romance of river life. For a Nocal guy Fogerty had to have a past life in the deep South. Has great empathy!
  • Ernie from Bronx, Ny, NyNew York City --song had went to #1 for 1 week on radio station WMCA - which played rock & roll with more of local sound-
    --WABC --song went to #2 -which played National hit songs-

    this took wedding bands by storm-- when a band was asked to play a rock & roll song- they would always play "PROUD MARY"
  • Barry from Sauquoit, Ny"Proud Mary" started the string of three consecutive records that peaked at #2; "Proud Mary" for three weeks, then "Bad Moon Rising" for a week, and finally "Green River" for one week!!!
  • Rick from Belfast, Methis song should of been #1 for the year....at worst, definitely #2 for the year 1969
  • Jeff from Panama City , Flthe intro doesnt instill the paddlewheel for me...its the lead riff in the middle...and the fills are phenomenal...very soulful...the single reason for me learning the guitar at an early age...the big one that put creedence on the map...forever indebted to stu, doug, tom, and of course john for giving me the inspiration to follow a music career...advocation
  • Luke from Saint Augustine, Fldo you know that i always thought this song was about a semi truck driver, for example rolling down the river, proud mary keep on burnin' which i thought he ment truck wheels keep on burnin down the road, even though everyone says proud mary was a boat i still like to think its a truck :)
  • Garrett from Phenix City, AlHello Jose from Barcelona,
    How can I find the Conway Twitty album "I Love You More Today? Is it still In Print? If you have an answer, let me know por favor.
  • Garrett from Phenix City, AlMarta, I tried going to the direct YouTube address that you have sent. I could pull up the song itself, but I couldn't find Conway's version When I tried typing it in the youtube search box it just gave me all of his other songs. If you know what page number in the listings it would be on, or anywhere else that has it for sure, or if there is anyone else that knows the about this please let me know I appreciate it. God Bless!!!
  • Marta from Szczecin, Polandhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5z4lmF8PNGc :)))
  • Garrett from Phenix City, AlDoes Anybody know where I can find Conway Twitty's version of proud Mary? If you do, please tell me. I have looked on the web and can not find it anywhere.
    Thanks,
    Garrett Miles
  • Garrett from Phenix City, AlFirst of all, I'd like to say the lyrics to the second verse are as follows; "Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, pumped a lot of 'pane or 'pain down in New Orleans." I used to think it was "Pumped a lot of tank down in New Orleans." Later, I heard a friend of mine's son singing the CCR version, and he said it was 'pane. Then I listened closely to Creedence Clearwater Revival's version, and it was clear that Fogerty was saying "'Paine" or "'pain," and not "tank as i thought it was, or even "'tane" as Ike & Tina Turner sang. So I asked several people what they thought it was and they all said it was "'pane" as a contracted form of propane. I have listened to the lyrical content of the song and clearly do not think it is about smoking dope. I have never heard heroine called "Pain." The song is about a riverboat going down the Mississippi. Now that i got that point clear, Yesterday I was reading some of the comments on this site, and I heard someone mension that Conway Twitty sang the song. I had heard that a long time ago, but had forgotten about it. I was wondering if you knew how or where i could find it, because I have looked all over the internet and I can't find it If you read this, and you have an answer, please let me know.
  • Harry from Myrtle Beach, ScTo the person who made the comment about hating Tina's version - that's fine if you don't like it - Don't listen to it - But your excuse for a joke about Ike hitting her is apalling. Grow up a little!
  • Marion from Houston, Texas, TxOOPS! That should be JOHN Fogerty.
  • Marion from Houston, Texas, TxI am probably much older than any of you who posted comments and believe I can safely say have known Jim Fogerty and his music much longer than you have. Do not presume to second guess this great artist. He says what he means and means what he says. Instead of arguing about the words of any song, why not just buy the sheet music?
  • Kevin from Chicago, IlI'm surprised most people don't draw the connection this song makes to marijuana. "Proud Mary keep on burnin?" I would say that is a pretty obvious reference to smoking some "Mary Jane"
  • Kris from Wichita, KsI hate Tina Turner's version of this song. It's prolly the reason Ike beat her,"Damn Tina you messed that song up *Smack* Don't do it again!"
  • Marge from Blue Grass, IaI'm doing Memorial Tribute's in memory of an uncle who passed away that who used to work
    on the river as a deckhand years ago. My
    husband John has worked on the river for
    31 years. He's a Captain on a lineboat.
    He thought this song "Proud Mary" would
    be the perfect song to put on the Memorial.
    We always loved this song. It's a good song
    and I don't know why people have to talk
    trash about such a great song! Marge,BG,IA.
  • David from Wilson, Nyi used to think it was about the boat queen mary when i was younger.
  • Gare from St. Paul, MnI am disappointed to realize that I have had the lyrics wrong all these years - I thought the song said "pumped a lot of tang' down in New Orleans" as in poontang. Damn! I'm still gonna sing it that way, it's much more interesting that-a-way!
    A great song sung by anyone is still a great song!!!
  • Mark from Byrdstown, TnIt kills me when someone posts 'so and so did an awesome cover of this song'.I mean why would you want to hear anyone cover this song when you can hear CCR doing it? I mean hell, Fogerty himself is still playing in a traveling band and doing this song.Even Tina Turner sounded like crap trying to do this song.
  • David from Baden-baden, GermanyJohn always had a book with him in which he wrote down feelings or experiences he made on journeys or something. He wrote lyrics with the help of this book.
  • Street Strategist from Hong Kong, Hong Kong"Proud Mary" is number 8 in the list called "Sounds at the Speed of Music: 50 Rock Anthems at 100 kph"
  • Ken from Louisville, KyOn an NPR interview, Fogerty was asked to pronounce the words "turning" and "burning". Fogerty was amused when the host was shocked that John didn't pronounce them "toinin'" and "boinin'". He said he sang the song in a cajun accent, which, being fron Northern California, he had to fake.



  • Linda from Omaha, NeI read that John Fogerty wrote "Proud Mary" because he was happy about having been rejected for service in Vietnam. Can't believe everything you read though.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumIke and Tina Turner didn't ruin the song, it's just different but very good also.
  • Paul from Warren, MiThis is a great song. It tells of a riverboat sailing down the Mississippi River with the paddlewheels going full force. Ike&Tina Turner ruined the song by speeding up the beat and now every musician follows the Turner way instead of doing it the way John Fogerty wrote it, the way the son was meant to be.
  • Caitlin from Upper Township, NjCool song. nice rhythmn. i danced to this song in my jazz class last year.
  • Teresa from Mechelen, BelgiumI loved this song when it came out and still love it now, the version of Ike and Tina Turner is also very good. I can't say which one I prefer because they are so different.
  • Jeff from Staten Island, NyHeroin is called Boy & Coke is called girl because heroin or Dope = (D) & Coke = (C)
    (its code/slang) because a boy has a 'D'
    a girl has a 'C' (think of private parts)

    the word "Man" doesn't fit the equation
  • Joe from Charlotte, NcI saw Fogerty in Chrlotte, NC. He's still doin' it. The "Man" in this song is heroin. "Workin for the man every night and day." If you want proof, watch the movie 'Ray' with Jamie Fox. They refer to coke as the lady, and heroin as boy. The river is referred to in thousands of rock songs. If you listen to any classic rock song and replace any word relating to water with heroin, they all make sense.
  • Mitchell from Melbourne, AustraliaYeah I saw him in Melbourne too. Terrific sing/songwriter and an excellent performer. Every there loved the entire show and was going crazy. I'm 14
  • Jolene from Melbourne, AustraliaJust saw Fogerty two nights ago in Melbourne and when he did this song the crowd was jumping around and acting real crazy which is a surprise cause the crowd was made up of people from 15 to 75! Mind you we were going crazy to just about every song, incredible concert. If you get a chance to see him live, take it.
  • Diane from Nyc, NyIt's a big person who can admit when they are wrong. I am (was) wrong. Straight from the horse's mouth:

    "Sometimes I write words to songs because they sound cool to sing. Sometimes the listener doesn't understand what I'm singing because I'm dedicated to singing the vowel, having fun with the word sounds coming out of my mouth. 'Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, pumped a lot of pain down in New Orleans,' is a good example. I think Tina Turner sang 'tane' instead of 'pain,' as in a contracted form of octane. But I knew what she meant," Fogerty said.
  • Diane from Nyc, Nythe lyric is pumped a lot of 'pane (propane) gasoline. it's funny how people project themselves on to perfectly harmless and obvious song lyrics.
  • Jose from Barcelona, Spainthere is an outstanding version of Proud Mary
    (country style) by Conway Twitty
    from LP "I Love You More Today".
    I do have it in MP3

    Benitez
  • Ross from Independence, MoThis is #155 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs.
  • Ken from Louisville, KyOne reason people thought CCR was from Louisiana was the song on the flip side of this single, "Born On The Bayou". In fact, CCR had orginally intended that song to be the A-side, but U.S. disc jockeys kept playing "Proud Mary" so often that the record company made it a "double A side" 45, as was sometimes done in the 1960's.

  • Rob from Novi, MiGood job, Cody. It seems to some people that every single song has some hidden meaning. Just listen to the music.
  • Kelly from Burbank, CaBest CCR song. Hands down. Well in my opinion at least. My dad is a really big Credence fan and listens to them a lot, so I got to know them well too. But I always though this was the best one.
  • Michael from Toronto, United StatesI always associated "pumped a lot of pain" with cranking heroin.

    I think it's great that the good songwriters' lyrics are open to interpretation.
  • Johnny from Hilo, Hii believe the lyric goes "pumped a lot of 'tain', down in new orleans", as opposed to "pumped a lot of 'pain', down in new orleans". it would make more sense that one could pump "tain" ( slang for octane, or gasolene ) at a low paying job, that would be compared to washing dishes. that, i can see being pumped, "pain" on the other hand, not so much.
  • Cody from San Antonio, TxWhy does everyone want songs to be about marijuana? Sometimes its not about pot guys. Come on.
  • Jude from Db, CaTrenyce sang this song very well on "American Idol."
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