About the song
Welcome to my blog, where I share my passion for music and its stories. Today, I want to talk about one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands: **Green River** by **Creedence Clearwater Revival**.
Green River is the title track of the third album by CCR, released in 1969. It was also a hit single, reaching number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the Cash Box singles chart. It is one of the most popular and enduring songs by the band, known for its catchy swamp rock sound and nostalgic lyrics.
But what is Green River about? Where is it? And what does it have to do with soda pop and Buffalo Bill Cody? Let’s find out!
The song was written by John Fogerty, the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of CCR. He explained in his Storytellers special that Green River is based on his childhood memories of a place he used to go with his family every year until he was ten. The place was Putah Creek, near Winters, California. He said:
> “Green River is really about this place where I used to go as a kid on Putah Creek, near Winters, California. I went there with my family every year until I was ten. Lot of happy memories there. I learned how to swim there. There was a rope hanging from the tree. Certainly dragonflies, bullfrogs. There was a little cabin we would stay in owned by a descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody. That’s the reference in the song to Cody Jr. [\”Up at Cody’s camp I spent my days…\”]”
So why did he call it Green River? Well, he got the name from a soda pop-syrup label. He said:
> “The actual specific reference, ‘Green River,’ I got from a soda pop-syrup label… My flavor was called Green River. It was green, lime flavored, and they would empty some out over some ice and pour some of that soda water on it, and you had yourself a Green River.”
Fogerty also said that he used a setting like New Orleans for the song, but he was actually talking about things from his own life. He said:
> “What really happened is that I used a setting like New Orleans, but I would actually be talking about thing from my own life. Certainly a song like \”Green River\” – which you may think would fit seamlessly into the Bayou vibe, but it’s actually about the Green River, as I named it – it was actually called Putah Creek by Winters, California. It wasn’t called Green River, but in my mind I always sort of called it Green River. All those little anecdotes are part of my childhood, those are things that happened to me actually, I just wrote about them and the audience shifted at the time and place.”
The song also has a hint of sadness and nostalgia in the last verse, where Old Cody Junior warns the singer that he’s going to find the world smoldering but can always come back to Green River. Fogerty said that Old Cody Junior was a reference to Buffalo Bill Cody’s descendant who owned the cabin by the creek.
The music of Green River is influenced by the Sun Records sound of the ’50s, especially by artists like Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. Fogerty said that he wanted to capture that vibe with his guitar tone and rhythm treatment.
Green River is a song that celebrates childhood innocence, nature, and imagination. It is also a song that reflects on the changes that come with growing up and leaving home. It is a song that resonates with many people who have their own Green Rivers in their hearts.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something new about this classic song by CCR. If you have any comments or questions, feel free to leave them below. And don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more music stories!