Fortunate Son (1969)
Creedence Clearwater Revival
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no senator’s son, son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me
I ain’t no fortunate one, no
Before “Fortunate Son,” anti-war protest songs were relatively sedate affairs, although Bob Dylan’s “Masters Of War” and Phil Ochs’s “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” had sharp lyrical fangs. The music backing those songs was fairly typical Folk strumming and picking, rooted in an even more sedate genre – let’s call it Mournful Beatnik – typified by songs such as “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?”
Listen to Fogerty snarl and spit this one out
The swampy, snapping-turtle voice of John Fogerty and the driving Rock of his Creedence Clearwater Revival changed that forever, spinning a slashing critique of American society in a mere two minutes and twenty seconds.
“Fortunate Son” made it okay to be loud, angry, nearly hysterical over the ill-advised, genocidal war in Vietnam, a war that had seen America’s military run amok with no discernible strategic goal. Polite discourse had evaporated by late-1968 into 1969 so that even the darkly wry, snappy humor of Country Joe McDonald’s “Fixin’ To Die Rag,” made famous at Woodstock, seemed painfully inadequate:
One, two, three, what are we fightin’ for?
Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn
Next stop is Vietnam
As “Fortunate Son” rocks on its scope widens. Beyond the military madness the country was immersed in during the mid-’60s into the early-’70s, Fogerty’s lyrics focus on privilege and inequality in America and the wealthy whose preoccupation is avoiding taxes by any means possible.
Some folks are born silver spoon in hand
Lord, don’t they help themselves, oh
But when the taxman comes to the door
Lord, the house looks like a rummage sale, yes
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no millionaire’s son, no
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate one, no
Finally, the last verse indicts the unthinking, the blind patriots among us. Vietnam wasn’t the first bloody, absurdist war America fought, and as we have seen, it wasn’t the last.
Some folks inherit star spangled eyes
Ooh, they send you down to war, Lord
And when you ask them
“How much should we give?”
Ooh, they only answer More! more! more! yoh
It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no military son, son
It ain’t me, it ain’t me; I ain’t no fortunate one, one
Many years later, having signed away his personal copyrights to his record company, Fogerty was aghast when “Fortunate Son” popped up on a Wrangler jeans commercial. He aired his views in the L.A. Times. A song of social import selling blue jeans rubbed him the wrong way:
I’m very much against my song being used to sell pants. I said if there’s
some other [Creedence] song that was probably just a simple rock ‘n’ roll
song, maybe I wouldn’t feel so strongly, but “Fortunate Son” has a real
point to it. So my position got stated very well in the newspaper, and lo
and behold, Wrangler, to their credit said, “Wow, even though we made
our agreement with the publisher, the owner of the song, we can see
now that John Fogerty really hates the idea,” so they stopped doing it.
Fogerty came of age in a lower-middle-class suburb of San Francisco, one of five kids raised by a single mother. Regardless of his success, he’ll always regard himself as a product of that upbringing.
Because the songwriter indeed, “ain’t no fortunate son,” his creation rings true today, decades later. And it’s damned great Rock-N-Roll, to boot.
Browse our big stash of Creedence albums, shirts, posters and more.
- From 1968 through 1972, CCR released seven albums. Five made the Top 10. Green River and Cosmo’s Factory hit #1.
- With the flip-side “Down On The Corner,” “Fortunate Son” reached #3 on the charts.