About the song
If you are a fan of classic rock, you probably know the song “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR). It’s a catchy and soulful tune that features John Fogerty’s distinctive vocals and guitar work. But did you know that this song was not originally written or recorded by CCR? In fact, it has a long and fascinating history that spans several artists, genres and decades.
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong for Motown Records in 1966. The first recording of the song to be released was produced by Whitfield for Gladys Knight & the Pips and released as a single in September 1967. It went to number one on the Billboard R&B Singles chart and number two on the Billboard Pop Singles chart and shortly became the biggest selling Motown single up to that time.
However, before Gladys Knight & the Pips recorded their version, another Motown act had already recorded the song in 1966: The Miracles, led by Smokey Robinson. Their version was not released until August 1968, when it was included on their album Special Occasion.
The most famous and acclaimed version of the song, however, was recorded by Marvin Gaye in early 1967. His version was initially rejected by Motown founder Berry Gordy, who preferred the Gladys Knight & the Pips version. Gaye’s version was shelved until it was placed on his 1968 album In the Groove, where it gained the attention of radio disc jockeys. Gordy finally agreed to its release as a single on the Tamla subsidiary in October 1968, when it went to the top of the Billboard Pop Singles chart for seven weeks from December 1968 to January 1969, overtaking the Gladys Knight & the Pips version as the biggest hit single on the Motown family of labels up to that point. Gaye’s version was also inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1998 and ranked 80th on Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2004.
In addition to these Motown versions, “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” has been covered by many other artists from different genres, such as soul, funk, rock, pop and reggae. One of the most notable covers was by Creedence Clearwater Revival, who made an eleven-minute interpretation for their 1970 album Cosmo’s Factory . CCR’s version featured a long instrumental jam with Fogerty’s guitar solos and a swamp rock groove. It was released as a single in 1976 and became their final Billboard Hot 100 chart entry.
In this blog post, we will explore how CCR transformed this Motown classic into their own signature style, what inspired them to cover it, and how their version influenced other artists and listeners. We will also compare and contrast their version with the original and other covers, and analyze how they used musical elements such as melody, harmony, rhythm, timbre and lyrics to create their unique rendition. Stay tuned for more!