May/June 1999 | Volume 50, Issue 3
The Beatles. Lennon and McCartney cowrote one joyous and overwhelming rock song, “She Loves You.” Lennon was responsible for another, “Revolution.” McCartney was responsible for a third, “Oh Darling.” The great rave-up tunes of the Beatles’ early days all are covers. The great Lennon-McCartney tunes of their middle and later periods are ballads, music-hall spoofs, or jumped-up skiffle tunes. Furthermore, although they looked pretty good in the rooftop sequence in Let It Be, they were by all accounts a mediocre live band compared with many other British and American bands of 1963-70, most notably the Rolling Stones.
Creedence Clearwater Revival. Dismissed as “just a singles band” and “’Hee-Haw’ meets Dale Hawkins” at the time they were playing together, Creedence, driven mostly by John Fogarty, created a series of raw and unforgettable rock songs. Some, like “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” were indeed country-tinged. Others, like “Fortunate Son,” were flat-out protest songs. Almost all the stuff Creedence created between 1967 and 1970 was hot. In an era of psychedelic imagery and increasing long-windedness, this band preserved the basic rock philosophy: Keep it short, keep it loud, and make sure the audience can dance to it.