Centerfield -- John Fogerty, March 23, 1985
Warner Bros. 25203
Producer: John Fogerty
Track listing: The Old Man Down the Road / Rock and Roll Girls / Big Train (From Memphis) / I Saw It on TV / Mr. Greed / Searchlight / Centerfield / I Can't Help Myself / Zanz Kant Danz
March 23, 1985
After Creedence Clearwater Revival split in late 1972, John Fogerty first resurfaced in 1973 under the moniker the Blue Ridge Rangers. Despite the band-like name, the self-titled album was actually a solo effort with Fogerty playing all the instruments, although his name did not appear on the sleeve. It peaked at number 47. Fogerty made his official solo debut with a 1975 album on Asylum, which made only number 78. Fogerty had seemingly lost the magic touch that gave Creedence nine top 10 singles and two chart-topping albums.
"My first instincts were not jazz, bluegrass, or opera," says Fogerty. "I was raised right in the middle with pop music, and that's the hardest, coldest game in town, where people have one hit and that's it for the rest of their life. You learn very quickly that it's 'What
have you done for me lately?' with current product."
After John Fogerty, the singer/guitarist simply did not want to make records anymore. To make matters worse, he was engaged in a heated battle with Fantasy Records chief Saul Zaentz over the CCR catalog. "It did a lot of damage to my psyche and personality as far as confidence," says Fogerty. "There were times in those years when I was scared to go in and buy a pair of socks in a department store."
Slowly, Fogerty began to regain his confidence and started write and record new material again. But it took a meeting with Warner Bros. Records president Lenny Waronker to put him back in the saddle. Fogerty played the executive six new songs he had recorded. "He was the first person who listened and he got all excited about it," Fogerty says. Waronker's positive feedback gave Fogerty a much-needed emotional boost. "The man who recorded those songs was not a guy who was full of confidence and filled with the knowledge that the world was waiting for him," Fogerty says. "I was the opposite way. I was a guy with his hat in his hand, wondering if the world still cared about this music or if I was some sort of a relic at the age of 38."
With Waronker's encouragement, Fogerty went back into the Plant Studios in Sausalito, California, to finish what would become the album's title track. "I was having trouble with the drumming on that song," says Fogerty, who played all the instruments on the album. "But after I came back from meeting Lenny, I finished that song in one day. I was ready."
One of the tracks that Fogerty played for Waronker was "The Old Man Down the Road," which went on to become Fogerty's first top 10 solo hit. "It was pivotal to the statement I was making about the music I was performing again," says Fogerty. "For a long time, I had lost the muse, the inspiration, and the ability to write a song, or at least I didn't know how to get it out of me."
Centerfield hit the summit in its ninth week on the Top Pop Albums chart, allowing Fogerty to join the ranks of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, and Barbra Streisand, all of whom have had Number One albums in the '60s, '70s, and '80s. Yet Fogerty's triumphant return was dampened by Zaentz, who threatened legal action unless Fogerty changed the lyrics of "Zanz Kant Danz," a thinly veiled stab at the record executive that contains the lyrics, "Zanz can't dance/But he'll steal your money." On subsequent pressings, the song's title was changed to "Vann Kant Danz." Zaentz went a step further by suing Fogerty, claiming that "The Old Man Down the Road" infringed on the copyright of the Creedence song "Run Through the Jungle"— a copyright that Zaentz held, even though Fogerty had written both songs. In the end, Fogerty prevailed.
THE TOP FIVE
Week of March 23, 1985
1. Centerfield, John Fogerty
2. No Jacket Required, Phil Collins
3. Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen
4. Make It Big, Wham!
5. Beverly Hills Cop, Soundtrack