The Best American Band: Credence for Creedence

When you start to think about great American rock ‘n’ roll bands, it doesn’t take long to realize that the spectrum of American rock music is broad, encompassing country rock, blues rock, hard rock, and more avant garde rock music. Creedence Clearwater Revival is one of those bands that moved around on that broad spectrum. People tend to associate the group with country rock (or, more precisely, the sub-genre low country swamp rock) and that is a fair characterization of some of their music — but then where do songs like The Midnight Special or the CCR cover of I Heard It Through the Grapevine fit in?

CCR was hugely popular in the late ’60s and early ’70s, and according to the Wikipedia entry it is the band with the most Billboard #2 songs — five in all — without ever getting a song to #1. Its popularity continued to the end of the 1970s, and it was a stereo system staple during my college years. CCR was another band of choice for my college roommate, Skip, probably because songs like Green River reminded him of the Cheat River and New River in West Virginia, where he worked as a whitewater raft guide. I liked listening to CCR, too, because I admired the diversity of their music. They played great straightforward rock ‘n’ roll — My Baby Left Me is an excellent example — and songs that you would start to sing to before you even realized it, like Bad Moon Rising. And, many of their songs had an intriguing, kind of ominous sound and quality to them — songs like Run Through the Jungle and I Put a Spell on You.

I’d be surprised if any real music fan would argue that CCR should not be seriously considered as one of the great American rock ‘n’ roll bands. Consistent with that status, a lot of their songs can be found on the Ipod — songs like Born on the Bayou, The Midnight Special, Before You Accuse Me, My Baby Left Me, Bad Moon Rising, Down on the Corner, I Heard It Through the Grapevine, Lodi, Lookin’ Out my Back Door, and Run Through the Jungle.

Edited to add: Time to Vote for your choice for Best American Band!

Safe From Remote Controls and Excedrin Bottles

Our dog Penny typically has a happy, placid disposition. If a masked villain entered our home bent on doing bodily harm, Penny would likely trot up to him, tail wagging, and lick his hand. If, on the other hand, a large remote control unit tried to enter the house, Penny would quickly attack and render it inoperable with but a few strategic bites. I know this to be true, because Penny already has disabled four remote controllers that were carelessly left within her reach.

So, it is safe to say that Penny has advanced chewing abilities. If she had gone to Canine College, she probably would have dismally failed every subject except Oral Fixation, where she would be performing at graduate school levels. Dog training literature says that pooches are supposed to lose their chewing impulse after their first year or so, but Penny is rapidly approaching her third birthday and the joy of chewing nevertheless remains a song within her heart. Every time we leave the house, we have to move all chewable items (except her designated chew toys, which she of course ignores) to unreachable areas. If we fail to do so, when we arrive home we are confronted with the grim evidence of the latest chewing incident. Last night we returned to find that Penny had dragged down Kish’s purse, strewn objects therein around the living room, and attacked an Excedrin bottle, gnawing off the top of its child-proof cap.

Kish theorizes that Penny is especially attracted to objects that still retain the scents of our hands, which is why remote controls are so irresistible. I’m a bit skeptical of that theory. Instead, I think one of two possibilities is true. First, Penny simply likes chewing plastic the way some people like chewing ice cubes, and delights in the satisfying crack and crunch of a good chew job. Second, when Penny attacks a channel changer, breaks up the laser feature, shatters the plastic shell, and leaves the unit covered with telltale bite marks, she hearkens back to her feral ancestry when the object between the jaws was a small animal and the items being gnawed and splintered were flesh and bone.