Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Fortunate Son," the Bomb, and Commodification

It ain't me. But it could be. Stark & beautiful footage of atomic explosions, which bring the song into another, longer war than the war which instigated it.

In the critical study, Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941, I discuss how frequently radical songs such as "Fortunate Son" get commodified and lose their original power. This video forwards that analysis, as well as the offending commercial that renders "fortune" into jean jingoism. I really hope the great John Fogerty had nothing to do with it.


Lyle Daggett said...

According to an article from several years ago in the website, here, it was apparently the record company that sold the song for use in the commercial, without any involvement by Fogerty or the rest of the band.

According to the article, Fogerty signed away rights to his recorded music years ago, giving the record company full control over the music. No doubt the result of the kind of predatory leveraging corporate record companies commonly do with musicians.

Haven't checked out the video yet -- I have dial-up, and YouTube videos take a while to load, even short ones. Will have a look at it when I have a chance.


Off topic here, but wanted to say I liked your poem "Etruscan Bronze" Cista Handle of Sarpedon (400 B.C.)" in the Tom McGrath tribute anthology "Eating the Pure Light." I was at AWP this year (just the second time I've gone) and picked up a contributor copy there. A great anthology, no?

Philip Metres said...

Hey Lyle,

Thanks for the information--I knew about Fogerty's loss of rights to the music, and could not imagine that he would have butchered his own song. (Then again, times change).

Thanks for your comment about my poem--I haven't yet seen the anthology, but look forward to seeing it.

Chaerephon said...

Fogerty's standoff with Fantasy Records is legendary, and it was still going on at the time the Wrangler commercial was made. I know I read an interview with Fogerty in which he specifically disavowed that use of the song and expressed great dismay about it. Can't find that interview now, but here is one where Fogerty talks politics upon the release of his last album, Revival.

The Fogerty/Fantasy rift is now over (change in Fantasy ownership maybe), resulting in fantastic reissues of the CCR catalog. I believe, but cannot confirm, that every American will be given free copies of each of them as part of the stimulus plan, as hearing them is essential to good citizenship.