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temporary thing

Just a note: my computer is acting up, I'm worried the hard drive is dying, so things will be a bit spare around here for a bit. Yes, I know, I missed Music Friday, which was partly blog burnout, but also computer anxiety.

To make up for yesterday, I'll attach a music video to this post. Hadn't intended it to be this one, but I'm inspired by the title of the post.

 


thursday throwback (happy thanksgiving)

Once, my wife drove me to the county hospital in the middle of the night. I was so afraid of ending up in J Ward that I did my best to act like I was better.

"[T]he old county hospital had a mental ward that they locked up inmates in. ... The mental ward of the hospital was known as 'J Ward'."

http://archiver.rootsweb.ancestry.com/th/read/CACONTRA/2007-10/1191727629

 


the comeback: "valerie is brought to her knees"

Last Sunday’s episode of The Comeback elicited some excellent commentary, particularly regarding the last scene:

Rose Maura Lorre: “I could feel that shoulder-hunching sense of … well, nervousness, almost. I get butterflies in my stomach when I watch this show, reveling in the sense that something dreadfully droll is about to happen.”

Emily Nussbaum:

“In “The Comeback” ’s standout sequence, Valerie films the sort of graphic sex scene that’s become a numbing cable convention. A two-minute-long, mostly wide-frame shot—in which Valerie, clothed as Aunt Sassy, stands flanked by two naked porn actresses, who moan orgasmically—is at once hilarious and excruciating, deliberately lingering past the point of comfort. The sequence paralyzes the viewer, pulling off a satirical triple lutz, a critique that doubles as the thing being critiqued. Valerie knows enough to praise those naked girls: “So free! So beautiful, really.” Her job, she’s learned, is to be a good sport. Any hint of resistance might get her tagged as “difficult.”

And, as is often the case, Maureen Ryan nails it better than anyone, as she compares the episode to an episode of Outlander. First:

"Outlander's" wedding episode meticulously and joyously depicted a sexual and emotional journey between two consenting adults, and it shouldn't be revolutionary that it did so from a woman's point of view, but it was. By so wholeheartedly embracing the female perspective and honoring a woman's sexuality, "Outlander" made it clear that there is an enormous amount to be gained from incorporating and sometimes prioritizing the viewpoint and desires of female characters. The viewer was complicit in that female gaze, but the experience, at least from my point of view, was uplifting and exciting.

And then:

Hearing the naked women make fake orgasm sounds, having that scene last for what felt like ages, seeing the look on Valerie's face, seeing the varied yet strained reactions of the crew; it all made for one of the most uncomfortable moment in the history of "The Comeback." It was a discomfort we were meant to feel, and we were meant to think about all the porn-y and semi-porn-y moments that the TV industry (not just HBO) has manufactured over the years. Everyone on that soundstage … appeared to feel a prickly, ungenerous complicity, and so did I as an audience member.

That complicity is one of many reasons a large number of viewers reject The Comeback. It is one of the least-feel-good series of all time. The shows it is most often compared to (“cringe comedy”) don’t come close. David Brent on The Office was a clueless moron, we cringed because it’s not easy to laugh at someone that clueless. Larry David on Curb Your Enthusiasm is so self-absorbed, he’s clueless even when he’s right. But Lisa Kudrow’s Valerie Cherish pretends to be a clueless moron, because that’s the only way she knows to maintain her position as a professional. Many times when David Brent or “Larry David” are humiliated, they don’t realize what has happened. Valerie Cherish always knows. Admittedly, she is usually a willing participant, but The Comeback never lets the audience off easy: we always know the pain Valerie goes through, while David and Larry rarely feel pain. (Ricky Gervais finally let it all out in Extras.)

And so, to “Valerie Is Brought to Her Knees”, a title that turns out to be literal. If you watch the show, you can skip to the next paragraph, but if you don’t, let me suggest the levels of meta involved here. The Comeback is an HBO series about a once-popular sitcom star, Valerie Cherish, who struggles to remain relevant in the public eye as she enters her 40s. The series stars co-creator Lisa Kudrow, an actress in her 40s who is known for her participation in Friends. In Season One, Valerie gets a recurring part on a new sitcom that hopes for a hip young audience; she is the only middle-aged regular character, and she exists to be the butt of jokes about how pathetic she is. She is simultaneously making a reality series, The Comeback, where she is followed around by a film crew documenting her attempt to resuscitate her career. In Season Two, which takes place nine years later (the actual series having been cancelled after one season, only to return nine years down the road), Valerie gets a job on a new HBO series created, written, and directed by one of the writers on the old sitcom from Season One. He was a heroin addict; now he is the toast of Hollywood for making his own comeback. The HBO series is a fictionalized version of his life, and focuses on that old sitcom. Valerie is hired to play the character that is based on … Valerie Cherish. And once again, she is followed by a documentary film crew. It becomes clear that the addict/writer is taking out his long-lasting frustrations with Valerie through his new show.

In this week’s episode, he includes a scene where the character based on himself (Seth Rogen is hired for the sitcom, and, of course, Seth Rogen is hired in reality to play “Seth Rogen” on The Comeback), gets a blow job from the character based on Valerie Cherish. He edits it to include a fantasy sequence that lets us know while the character based on himself is getting a blow job from the character based on Valerie, he is thinking about hot young naked porn actresses.

When it comes time to film the blow job, he instructs Valerie to get on her knees, and instructs “Seth” to put his hand on her head, pushing it down. Valerie needs to explain … to her fellow actors, to the crew, to the audience for the documentary, and for us sitting at home … she needs us to understand that this never happened, that Valerie Cherish never gave a blow job to this guy in real life. Only two people seem to understand: “Rogen”, who convinces the asshole to shoot the scene with Valerie’s head out of the frame, and Jane, the director of the documentary, who is an ever-present witness to how Valerie is abused.

Lisa Kudrow is amazing … all of the above, the meta and the rest, she gets across. We see an actress, Lisa Kudrow, now 51 years old, who has to go through shit on a daily basis just to do what she loves. We see Valerie Cherish, who goes through shit and asks for more, because she believes it is the only way to remain in the game. We see the ways she is humiliated … we see the ways she is involved in her own humiliation … and in Valerie’s eyes, we see what all of this does to her. It’s the latter that you never see on Curb Your Enthusiasm. It’s as if Kudrow/Cherish is silently begging us to understand, knowing all along that we’re just an audience getting enjoyment out of her plight.

No wonder people don’t want to watch this show. The usually-reliable Tim Goodman called it “unwatchable and unfunny”, stating “I could only get through two episodes, and I wanted to throw my TV through the window at the end of the first, and myself through the window at the end of the second.” Catch my wife when she’s in a good mood, and she’ll allow that The Comeback is very good at what it does. So good that she can’t bear to watch it, and doesn’t know why anyone else would, either.

The Comeback makes us feel uncomfortable. It puts us alongside Valerie Cherish with her head between Seth Rogen’s legs, insists that even as we laugh, we get the humiliation factor from the perspective of the abused. The Comeback is not fun. It is, as Valerie informed us back in season one, a dramedy, which is a comedy without the laughs.


what i watched last week

Brazil (Terry Gilliam, 1985). I don’t know if it’s just part of getting old, but more and more I find myself accepting that taste preferences are the key to the appreciation of the arts. I don’t know why this surprises me … I spent much of my time in grad school trying to destroy the entire concept of a canon, daring anyone to tell me what was good and what was bad. Sometimes, I still get that hostile feeling when I watch a movie where the only real problem is that it doesn’t fall on the plus side of my taste preferences. But nowadays, I at least try to understand the situation. Call it Terrence Malick Syndrome. I’ve seen almost every movie Malick directed, and I end up thinking the same thing each time: I admire his willingness to stick with it until he gets exactly what he wants on the screen, but I don’t much care for the finished product. I’ve tried to get through Brazil a couple of times, and now I can finally cross it off of my bucket list. There are many remarkable things in Brazil: the sets, the audacious flights of fancy, the dyspeptic vision of the future. I don’t know if Gilliam accomplished everything he set out to do, because the movie is so stuffed full of things that I lost count. Yet I never connected with the characters, and I don’t think even Gilliam gave a crap about the narrative. It was lovely to look at, and I bet if there’s a coffee-table book of the movie, it would look lovely there, as well.  So kudos to Terry Gilliam, but I preferred Twelve Monkeys. #225 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time. 6/10. For a companion piece, try Twelve Monkeys, or maybe the version of 1984 with John Hurt.


maybe it's just that my brain is broken

Today I watched a soccer match between AC Milan and Inter Milan. Matches between these two are called the “Derby della Madonnina” (here in the U.S. it’s just the Milan Derby). This rivalry dates back to 1908. The two teams are historically very good. What makes this rivalry especially noteworthy is that both clubs play their home matches in the same stadium, the San Siro.

AC Milan’s home jerseys look like this:

Inter Milan’s home jerseys look like this:

I’m not sure why Inter, the “away” team in this match, wore their home jerseys, although I guess they were playing at their home, the San Siro. Whatever, the players looked like those jerseys for the match, with Milan in red and Inter in blue.

As I often do, while the match went on, I had the WhoScored website up in my browser. They offer real-time stat updates. The screen for Milan-Inter looked like this:

whoscored

I hope you can see the problem. On WhoScored for this match, Milan was in blue and Inter was in red, although those colors were switched for the actual players’ jerseys as I watched my TV. What was worse, in the first half, Inter was going from left-to-right on my screen, Milan from right-to-left. I hope you can see how this was a problem, as well.

My brain couldn’t handle all of this. Even though I’ve seen these teams play many times, I kept getting confused about which team was which as I watched.

I’m sure the brain scientists can explain why this was so frustrating. Or maybe it’s just that my brain is broken.


music friday: remastered

In the last few weeks, first Sleater-Kinney and now Bruce Springsteen released remastered versions of their old albums (all of them, in the case of S-K, the early ones in the case of Bruce). I wrote about the Sleater-Kinney box in a roundabout way last month, but I don’t think I’ve explained exactly why I bought that set. I grabbed all of the remasters separately, so if you want to be picky, you could say I didn’t really buy the box (and I skipped The Woods, which wasn’t remastered). Robert Christgau asked me why I’d bought those albums when I already owned them, and I said I just liked being able to send some money their way when I had it to spare. (A few days later, they ended their hiatus, announcing a new album and tour, so I guess I’ll be spending S-K money again real soon.) I also noted that I didn’t buy the vinyl, didn’t buy the CDs … I just bought the digital MP3 downloads. And I pay for Spotify, where you can also hear the remastered versions.

I don’t have a point here … I just ask myself what exactly am I getting, quality-wise, from remasters when I listen to them either via MP3 files or via Spotify streaming. To say nothing of the listening environment, usually the sound system on my computer (stereo w/subwoofer), sometimes via ear buds or in the car. Do I really think I can tell the difference between my original copies of Dig Me Out, and the compressed version of the remastered Dig Me Out? Probably not, which is why my explanation for why I bought them came down to “supporting the artist” rather than “improving the audio”.

Now, everyone knows that no matter how much I love Sleater-Kinney, my all-time #1 fave is Bruce Springsteen. But I haven’t yet bought any of his new remasters. It comes down to the same thing as with S-K: I ultimately care little about the audio quality, I just want to support the artist. Since I’ve seen Bruce in concert 35 times, and bought all of his albums, often in multiple formats, and all of his videos (first on VHS, then DVD, and now Blu-ray), I know I’ve spent more money on Bruce Springsteen than I have on any other musician. I also know that Bruce has lots of money, and more power to him, I don’t begrudge him a penny. But I don’t think, “gee, I better spend money on this music I already have, to support the artist” in the same way I do with an indie band that I assume has a bit less money than Bruce.

(There is no easy way to work this into the post, but there is a fascinating interview with Jonathan Sterne about formats, which you can find here.)

Whatever music I add to this post will have audio that is compromised in one way or another. Yet for the most part, we don’t care … we just continue to watch/listen to YouTube. Which Google understands, since they’re turning YouTube into a streaming music service.

Anyway, I never once in those 35 concerts saw Bruce cover Sleater-Kinney, although one of their songs was on the pre-show playlist once. But I saw Sleater-Kinney cover Bruce, on his birthday, in fact, at the Fillmore in 2002. Two days later, someone recorded them doing it again … that’s Janet (sigh) on harmonica:


tv grid, 1968

This comes from a TV Guide in 1968, just as the new fall season arrived. I found the picture at a website called Television History. It shows a grid with all of the prime time shows on the major networks:

1968_TV_Programs

If you want to know what was different about life for a 15-year-old American in 1968, here is one example. Three channels to choose from, all over-the-air free-with-ads. The total number of prime-time series was smaller than a list of the prime-time series today for any specific time/day.

As for what I watched: Saturdays were CBS until 10:00, although if there was a rock and roll act I wanted to see, I would switch to Hollywood Palace. Sunday was also CBS: Ed Sullivan, Smothers Brothers, Mission Impossible. Monday was tough, since the second half of The Avengers conflicted with the first half of Laugh-In, and there were no VCRs in those days. Tuesdays I’d watch Red Skelton, or nothing at all. Wednesdays were totally cruddy. Thursdays began with ABC comedies The Flying Nun, Bewitched, and That Girl, followed by a switch to NBC for Dragnet and my dad’s fave, Dean Martin. Finally, Friday had The Wild, Wild West.

The truth is, Robin and I started going together in late September of that year, so I spend most of these evenings talking to her on the phone.


by request: boardwalk empire, series finale

Usually, “by request” means I’m going to write about a movie. But I’ve gotten behind on TV writing, and a friend who just caught up with the end of Boardwalk Empire asked that I say a few words. I could blame the absence of a finale post when it aired a few weeks ago on the fact that the Giants were winning Game Five of the World Series that same night. But the truth is, I’ve been sliding on writing about television for some time, and it’s not just because the Giants won the World Series.

Nor is the problem that TV has gotten worse. If anything, it’s better than ever. Everyone from the most esteemed critics to lowly bloggers like me have thrown our hands in the air in despair at the utter impossibility of keeping up with every good show. There are just too many of them. I also find myself questioning my older patterns of writing about season premieres and finales … at least in the immediate aftermath … because there is hardly anyone left who watches TV shows “live” during their initial airing. I don’t actually recall the date I watched the Boardwalk finale, but it was at least a day after it aired, maybe as much as four days. We might be catching up … on Monday night, we watched three Sunday shows.

What have I said about Boardwalk Empire in the past? I gave the series premiere an A-, writing that “Boardwalk Empire has promise. The premiere was very good, and if the series maintains this level, we will indeed be sticking around.” I gave the same A- grade to the first season overall, saying “the production values have a film-like feel (it’s easy to see why movie buffs who don’t normally watch television are drawn to the show), the characters have depth, the narrative thrust is gradual but insistent, and the acting is excellent.” I quoted Nucky, “We all have to decide for ourselves how much sin we can live with,” and argued that this was the theme of the show.

The Season Two premiere elicited yet another A- … I was still hesitant to put it in the top rank. The season as a whole got an A-, but I gave the finale an A. It was one of the best episodes in the series’ history, and a core character was killed off. I was aware of the problem this created … as others have noted, Nucky Thompson is not the most interesting character on the show, and when one of those more interesting characters was gone, putting even more emphasis on Nucky, that was going to be hard to address without lowering the show’s appeal.

And on and on I went. I gave the Season Three premiere an A-, stating for the umpteenth time both that I liked the show quite a bit and that something kept it from the pantheon, even if I couldn’t name that something. I gave the season as a whole an A-, but all I really obsessed about was why I didn’t think it was great.

I could keep going. Perhaps I came closest to figured out the problem when Season Four began:

Last week, Tim Goodman asked the question, “Why Isn’t ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Compelling Even When It’s Really Good?” It’s a question I’ve often asked myself. It’s not that the show gets no love … it has won a dozen Emmys and been nominated for many more. It ranks high on the Metacritic site, which collates critical opinion. There are big names attached to it, most notably Martin Scorsese. The large cast is both solid and varied, and the recreation of 1920s America is excellent. You might argue that it is a flawless show … there’s a flaw in the excess of riches category, since there are so many great characters and actors that not all of them get their due, but it’s hard to call something that positive a flaw. (My wife points out that with each season, fewer characters actually care about anything real outside of their gangland lives, and she’s right. Whether that is a flaw is another question.)

But compelling? For many people, it is. For me, its quality doesn’t necessarily translate into a compelling series. Interesting things happen, there are more actors I love than practically any other show, I’m always glad to watch it … yet it’s not always the first thing I watch when the DVR begins to back up, and sometimes that backup includes an episode of Boardwalk Empire that I haven’t gotten to yet.

I kept doling out A- grades, and how bad is it, really, when it consistently ranks among the best that TV has to offer. But I finally accepted that I had nothing left to say, that in fact I’d said my piece by the end of the second season, and so I didn’t even mention the beginning of the fifth and final season. And, as noted above, I never wrote about the finale, either.

What can I say, Season Five was as good as all the others. Having lost Michael Pitt and Jack Huston over the years (they played the two most fascinating characters on the series), there wasn’t much left to distract us from Nucky. The great Michael K. Williams was able to close out his Chalky White … of all the show’s great characters, he lasted the longest. But Season Five played as if Terence Winter had finally realized that the man at the center of his show wasn’t all that interesting. So he did what he could to correct that, giving us lots of flashbacks during the season of the young Nucky. (Everything on Boardwalk Empire was so clinically perfect that it came as no surprise that the actors chosen to play Nucky, the Commodore, and Gillian in the past were great matches, right down to their voices.) The idea clearly was to give us a better feel for what made Nucky into Nucky. And that was a good story, I’m glad they told it. I don’t know how interesting they made him … Patricia Arquette stole every scene she was in, there was Chalky, and Jeffrey Wright’s Narcisse, and even Joe Kennedy turned up. In the series finale, they wrapped everything up effectively … it all made sense, in that way where once you saw it, you couldn’t imagine a more appropriate conclusion.

Throughout the run of Boardwalk Empire, I would hear from people who liked it more than I did. The usual refrain was that my standards were too high, if Boardwalk Empire was only worth an A-. And since I spent five seasons without clearly identifying what made it less than great for me, my opinion was and is suspect. It’s certain not fair to belittle the show because it was practically perfect. But maybe I wanted a little messiness to go with that perfection. Battlestar Galactica, now that show was a mess. It’s ambitions were so great, it was bound to fall short on a regular basis, and Ron Moore seemed intent on including the kitchen sink alongside everything else. But BSG was a great series, and Boardwalk Empire was only a very good one. It needed an occasional episode that went off the rails, and that wasn’t going to happen, because Boardwalk Empire was not intended to be a mess. The period recreations were superb, the acting was exemplary, and the overall plot arc was finished off with a bow tied neatly around it at the end (no one argued about that ending, compared to what happened to The Sopranos and Battlestar). I admired Boardwalk Empire, but I was usually more eager to watch The Walking Dead, the epitome of messy TV.

Need I say it? Grade for series: A-.


what i watched last week

The Hunger Games (Gary Ross, 2012). I’m going at it in a slightly backwards way, but I continue to be a member of the crowded Jennifer Lawrence Can Do No Wrong bandwagon. I first saw her in Winter’s Bone, which I loved (and I loved her in that movie). That was all it took for me to think Lawrence was a wonderful actress. For all of that, I haven’t seen many of her movies … I don’t think I saw her X-Men movies, saw her big hits Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle and liked them, too. More to the point, I hadn’t seen any of the Hunger Games movies. I was intrigued by a piece by S.E. Smith, “What movie audiences get wrong about Jennifer Lawrence”. Smith called Lawrence “the most successful action heroine in history” while asking why she isn’t thought of as “the biggest action star in the world”. Smith doesn’t even mention X-Men films … the discussion revolves around the Hunger Games franchise. I decided it was time to fill out part of my Lawrence worksheet, and so we watched the first movie in the franchise. It’s Jennifer Lawrence’s movie, and she has no trouble taking command. I knew nothing about the Hunger Games universe, so I was surprised that Katniss Everdeen was rather close to the character Lawrence played in Winter’s Bone, right down to the squirrels. Most of the time, she’s de-glamorized, grimy, taking care of business and looking believable in the process. She is able to run the gamut of emotions in Katniss despite not having a lot of good dialogue to work with. In a movie with plenty of notables in the supporting cast, Lawrence shines above them all. The movie? It was OK. They had the good sense to stick Katniss in the middle of virtually everything that happened, and Lawrence was always worth watching, so it didn’t seem too long, even at 142 minutes. But I felt the entire story was told in a matter-of-fact manner. The (futuristic?) world of the film isn’t explained, which is fine, but without knowing how they got to that point, it’s hard to make sense of any political critiques, submerged as they were. Classes existed, the lower class was crapped on, but how we ended up in this cross of the Roman Empire with Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” was unclear. I wanted to care more about the socio-cultural world of the film, but in the end, it was just Katniss Everdeen kicking ass while dealing with a couple of moony-eyed boys who had their minds on romance. It’s clearly a winning combination … it pulled in almost $700 million, the sequel gathered over $860 million, and the new one will surely set box-office records as well. I don’t know that I’ll be watching this movie again, but I might check out the sequel … it’s the Jennifer Lawrence bandwagon, after all. 7/10. Obviously, the best companion piece would be the sequel, but if you never saw it, try Winter’s Bone, which is better than any other Lawrence movie I’ve seen.


music friday: creedence clearwater revival, "keep on chooglin'"

I don’t remember the details any longer, and maybe it’s just a myth that came after the fact without basis in what actually happened. But during Creedence Clearwater Revival’s run, but the story goes that Creedence was looked down upon by the psychedelic passengers in the San Francisco Bay Area, I think because CCR had actual hit records that got played on AM radio (you know, like the Airplane with “White Rabbit”). Thanks to military service by John Fogerty and drummer Doug Clifford, the band didn’t get around to recording their first record under the Creedence Clearwater Revival moniker until the summer after the Summer of Love. While their music was “timeless” in the way it anticipated Americana, outlasting in popularity most of the great psychedelic bands (for whom I have the highest regard, it needs to be said), for some reason, not everyone in the “scene” was impressed by these guys from El Cerrito. That first album included a cover of “Susie Q” that hit #11 on the singles charts in a shortened version. On the album, “Susie Q” ran 8:37, and the single split that into Part One and Part Two. The band was well aware of the difference between the AM pop stations and the FM “underground” stations, and “Susie Q” was a direct response to that, as John Fogerty later explained in an interview:

This little underground San Francisco radio station, KMPX, would play all kinds of weird things. I told the other guys that the quickest way we could get on the radio, therefore get more exposure and get this thing going was to specifically go in and record an arrangement of "Suzie Q" that could get played on that station. It's been said that what we were doing seemed very far removed from the rest of San Francisco, but that's not quite true. ''Suzie Q" was designed to fit right in. The eight-minute opus. Feedback. Like [the Paul Butterfield Blues Band's] "East-West." And especially the little effect, the little telephone-box [vocal] in the middle, which is the only part I regret now. It's just funny sounding. But, lo and behold, it worked!

In 1969, Creedence released three albums. On those albums were tracks like “Born on the Bayou,” “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Lodi,” “Down on the Corner,” and “Fortunate Son”. All in one year. This wasn’t the Grateful Dead … this was a hit-making machine, cranking out one hit after another from the pen of John Fogerty. And they weren’t done. In 1970, there was Cosmo’s Factory (“Travelin’ Band,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” “Run Through the Jungle,” “Up Around the Bend,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”).

If you assume a popular group can’t also be an “underground” group (and this assumption was made in those days), then a band like Creedence isn’t going to get as much air play on the FM stations than they deserved. My memory doesn’t support any particular position on this … I don’t remember whether Creedence was played on KMPX/KSAN. I know that the band often returned to tracks which could be seen as opus-like: the album version of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” ran more than eleven minutes.

The thing that is forgotten is that even dedicated “FM” listeners like myself existed in a broader cultural context when it came to music. I was in high school, and we enjoyed Motown and Stax/Volt and other similar-sounding hits. It all blended together, with Creedence Clearwater Revival heard right alongside Aretha Franklin and the Four Tops. It was all popular music to us. And popular music to high schoolers meant dance music. We danced to it all.

Which brings us to “Keep on Chooglin’”. “Chooglin’” was an excuse for John Fogerty to jam. He sang a brief verse about chooglin’, which stood in vaguely for fucking, and then tore into a long guitar solo, into which he moved to a long harmonica solo, after which he returned to the guitar. All the while, drummer Doug Clifford pounded out a repetitive beat, bassist Stu Cook hit a repetitive run, and guitarist Tom Fogerty played a repetitive chord. There is nothing to this song beyond John Fogerty’s trademark rough-sounding vocals, his guitar playing, his harmonica playing, and the insistent, repetitive beat. The song lasted just under eight minutes, and we danced all the way through, working along with that beat … no matter how bad a dancer you were, you could find a place in “Chooglin’” to call your own.

Not only did “Keep on Chooglin’” work on FM “underground” terms (long and full of solos), it worked when extended on stage. Creedence did such a good job of getting their live sound on record that their concerts were said to be less illuminating than those of others, because the records already sounded like the live versions. I never saw the band, but based on the evidence we have, I’d say if you had as many great songs as CCR, playing them “like the record” wouldn’t be the worst move. Here, then, is a live version of “Keep on Chooglin’”. There are several to pick from … I like this Woodstock version because of something John Fogerty said about their appearance at that famous festival (their set came after midnight): “A quarter mile away in the darkness, on the other edge of this bowl, there was some guy flicking his Bic, and in the night I hear, 'Don't worry about it, John. We're with you.' I played the rest of the show for that guy.”

For an interesting discussion of “chooglin’”, see “Keep on Chooglin.”