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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary lyric meanings and song facts

All facts provided by Songfacts

The phrase "Proud Mary" reminded John Fogerty of a domestic washerwoman, which is what he started writing the song about. When he wrote the music, the first few chords reminded him of a paddle-wheel going around, and he thought of the Mississippi River. Instead of "Proud Mary" being a clean-up lady, "she" became a boat. (Thanks to Ron Foster. More from Ron at
Fogerty wrote the lyrics based on 3 song title ideas- "Proud Mary," "Riverboat," and "Rolling On A River."
This was a hit for Ike And Tina Turner in 1971. It was a highlight of their live shows.
This was the first of 5 singles by Creedence that went to #2 on the US chart. They had the most #2 songs without ever having a #1.
Despite popular belief, John Fogerty was not writing from experience when he wrote this. Thanks to his military commitment, he hadn't ventured further east than Montana. (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL)
"Proud Mary" attracted 35 covers in the year 1969 alone. Over 100 have been made so far.
Fogerty carried around a notebook with titles that he thought would make good songs. "Proud Mary" was at the top of the list.
The line, "Pumped a lot of pain down in New Orleans" is actually "Pumped a lot of 'Pane," as in propane. He was pumping gas.
Leonard Nimoy, who played "Mr. Spock" on Star Trek, recorded an infamous cover of this song. Near the end, he sings the chorus Elmer Fudd style - "Big wheel keep on toynin', Pwoud Mawy keep on boinin'..." It is included on a CD called Golden Throats.
John Fogerty: (about how the guitar riff came about) "I don't know where the germ started. I can kind of remember writing the chords at the beginning of the song. Believe it or not, I was playing around with the famous riff from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. I used to tell people that the song sounds like what it's about. I thought, by the way, that the opening riff sounded just like the wheel at the back of a boat. 'Proud Mary' is not a side-wheeler, it's a stern-wheeler." (thanks, Brett - Edmonton, Canada, for above 2)
Even though Creedence Clearwater Revival was from El Cerrito, California, many people thoght they were from New Orleans because of their sound. They helped feed the rumor by naming their second album Bayou Country.

All facts provided by Songfacts


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Creedence Clearwater Revival - Proud Mary guitar tabs and chords


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