In 1970, John Fogerty’s Creedence Clearwater Revival scored the last of five Number Two singles with “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” in which the band pays homage to country legend Buck Owens and the Bakersfield Sound that influenced the group. In a move that likely surprised the rock & roll act’s most casual fans, Owens was name-checked in the song’s lyrics. But the group’s more dedicated followers were certainly aware of the influence country music had on the group, and on Fogerty in particular.
On Tuesday night, Grand Ole Opry member (and fellow Buck Owens devotee) Brad Paisley played a short set then introduced the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member, who made his Opry debut with three of his most enduring hits: “Centerfield,” “Proud Mary” and, naturally, “Lookin’ Out My Back Door.” Before the performance, Paisley took great pains to make sure Fogerty was standing inside the “magic circle,” the part of the Opry stage that was originally in the floor of the long-running show’s previous home, the Ryman Auditorium.
“One of the great things about the Opry,” Paisley said while introducing the country-rock pioneer, “is how it recognizes how big of an umbrella country music has become and the people who have used country music as an influence in their music, which was not traditionally considered this format. But when you look back on what [John Fogerty] did, it’s as country as just about anything.”
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In 1973, after CCR disbanded, Fogerty made the first of a pair of LPs populated with country covers (including Hank Williams’ “Jambalaya”) and credited to the Blue Ridge Rangers. He recorded a sequel to that album in 2009 and four years later, his Wrote a Song for Everyone album featured guest appearances from Alan Jackson, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert and Brad Paisley, among others.