I often tape TV shows to watch later - no TIVO here - but then misplace the tape, and only get around to watching the show in question whenI find the tape, days or weeks later. So it was that a few nights ago I stumbled on a taped copy of an episode of the Tonight Show from early last fall. Although I initially couldn't remember why I might have wanted to tape it in the first place, it came back to me when Jay Leno announced his musical guest that evening: John Fogerty.
For those too young to remember, John Fogerty was the lead singer and chief songwriter for Creedence Clearwater Revival, the powerhouse Bay Area Rock Group from the late 60's and early 70's. In 3 or 4 short years, the band pumped out hit after hit, after hit, sung in Fogerty's unique vocal style. They were Rock icons, not just in the United States, but around the world.
Although CCR wasn't known primarily for political statements, one of their more powerful tunes was Fortunate Son, an indictment of a government that sent its drafted poor off to fight in Vietnam, while the sons of the rich and powerful got deferrments from the draft.
Although most of the songs that CCR made famous were about trains, and swamps, and street corners, and hobos, Forgerty created in Fortunate Son one of the hallmark anthems of dissent of the era, and his delivery on it was pregnant with rage, full of piss and vinegar. It was powerful stuff.
So, what of Fogerty's performance on the Tonight Show?
Well, it seems John Fogerty has a new album out, and he showed up to play his new anti-war tune, Déjà Vu (All Over Again). In it Fogerty decries what he considers the stupidity of war, particulary the war we are engaged in. He seems to think that we should have learned our lessons in Vietnam, but we're just doing it all over again. (Déjà Vu. All over. Again. Get it?)
Of course, Mr. Fogerty seems to have missed the real lessons of history. Conflict is inevitable, wars happen, bad people do bad things and must be stopped. We fight because we must. Leftists don't understand this, at least not on a national or international level. If - and when - their kids are personally threatened or attacked, they respond with an understandable fury. It's when things become political and abstract that they lose focus and clarity. Even after the Twin Towers were brought to ground in lower Manhatten by the Jihadistas, many on the left still seem incapable of calling evil for what it is, or understanding the need to respond with force.
(Whatever the merits of the American doctrine of Communist Containment in SE Asia, held by various administrations in the 1950's and 1960's, a weak - but plausible - case could be made that the SE Asian conflict wasn't ours, that we didn't belong in Vietnam. And, what's more, the US were never attacked. The current conflict is different - very different. This time we were attacked, and on US soil. War was declared on us, and we have not only a right but a duty to respond, 'with extreme prejudice,' to slightly misquote Captain Willard, from Apocolypse Now. Unfortunately, those on the left still do not, will not, or cannot, understand this. As President Bush pointed out on September 20th, 2001, we didn't start this fight, but we will finish it.)
I must say, Fogerty looked great for a man who must be around 60; he looks like he's still in his mid-40's. But he just seemed off; he sounded weary. Although it's clear how he feels about the war, he just doesn't seem to have it in him to get particularly angry about it. Déjà Vu has none of the fire of Fortunate Son, or the passion of that other CCR anti-war hit, Who'll Stop The Rain? Musically, Fogerty sounded like Harvest Moon-era Neil Young channeled through Sea Change-era Beck. Although Déjà Vu isn't a particularly bad song, it isn't great, either.
I'm glad to see Mr. Fogerty is still standing and still making music, but I'm just disappointed to see that he's been reading too much of class-clown Michael Moore's juvenilia, and not enough of Victor Davis Hanson's sober and astute assessments of the struggle we now face. With all that said, I'm still a fan; John Fogerty is a legend, even if his latest single is a bit lame.