Every Record I Own - Day 270: Creedence Clearwater Revival Green River
If you’ve toured the West Coast with a hardcore band in the last twenty-two years, you’ve probably played Chain Reaction in Anaheim. It’s a 250 cap all-ages club located on a strip of business parks and used car lots right off the interstate. The toilets are always broken, the bar only serves soda, and the green room is a constant paint-fumed work-in-process, but if your prime demographic is 16 to 22 year olds, it’s a great place to play shows. Some of my favorite nights during Botch’s tenure were at that club. The shows were packed and the crowds were rowdy.
But things change.
You grow a little older, and your music grows with you. I’ve never written songs meant for everyone; the music is meant to reach weary like-minded souls. In the ‘90s, that meant appealing to kids who were frustrated by looming adulthood and the bullshit day-to-day grind they were inheriting. But we all grow older—we find our place in the cogs of the machine, we move away from the suburban sprawl, and we spend our leisure hours sipping beers in the re-populated city centers. So while I have great memories of Chain Reaction back in the ‘90s, the occasional tour dates there in the years since have typically been less than spectacular. The shows aren’t as rowdy, and everyone in the crowd looks restless, thirsty, and uncomfortable. The 19-year-old straight edge me would be disappointed to know that twenty-or-thirty-something me would usually go drink a beer in the van during the opening bands’ sets.
There’s never been much around Chain Reaction, hence the beer in the van. But on this one occasion ten years ago or so a pack of us escaped the all ages club and wandered into this cocktail lounge several blocks away that looked like it’d been preserved from the ‘60s. There was a little stage at the back where a couple of old guys were sitting on stools jamming out classic rock tunes. At one point they whipped out a faithful rendition of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Lodi” and it was one of those weird moments where something as banal as a cover band in Orange County suddenly felt… i dunno… transcendental?
Of course, the beauty of “Lodi” is that it’s basically about being a down-and-out musician stuck in some shithole town. And here were these old dudes playing in a nearly empty bar with big grins on their faces, like they fully understood the implications of playing that song in that environment. And meanwhile, here I was escaping this club where I’d once had my glory days, just trying to pass the time as quickly as possible so we could move on to the next town.
I’m glad they didn’t play “Wrote A Song For Everyone” cuz I would’ve probably lost it.