At the end of the sixties, after more than a decade of sending troops to the Vietnam War, the public opinion of the United States increasingly understood less what its soldiers were doing dying in a corner of Southeast Asia that many of them did not even know to locate on a map. That sentiment shared by many young people found in music a loudspeaker that expressed their rejection of American participation in the conflict, and in this context, the Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of the bands that best knew how to pick it up. The formation led by John Fogerty composed several songs that addressed the opposition to the war, but of all of them, Fortunate Son would be the one that would become one of the most representative themes of that anti-war movement that was beginning to take root in the country.
Fortunate Son was released in 1968 as part of the band’s fourth album, a work entitled Willy and the Poor Boys, which was the consolidation of this influential Californian formation. The song is written from the point of view of one of the thousands of young Americans who at any moment could be sent to fight in Vietnam. But it also focuses on all those boys who, due to their privileged social condition, avoided that situation. And it is that in the lyrics of Fortunate Son, the protagonist of the song explicitly regrets not having the luck of being the son of a millionaire, a military man, or a senator to be able to avoid being recruited.
Fortunate Son, however, has not stopped being controversial. At a Veterans Day concert in 2014, Foo Fighters Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen performed a cover of the song. This performance generated controversy, as the event was broadcast on television and the meaning of the piece did not go unnoticed.
Fogerty, a military vet himself, released his statement regarding his own song:
“‘Fortunate Son’ is a song I wrote during the Vietnam War over forty-five years ago,” Fogerty’s statement. “As an American and a songwriter I am proud that the song still has resonance. I do believe that its meaning gets misinterpreted and even usurped by various factions wishing to make their own case. At its core I believe the issue is really about what a great country we have that a song like this can be performed in a setting like Concert for Valor.”
“It ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, I ain’t no fortunate one” With this song the members of the Creedence Clearwater Revival expressed their rejection of the war, also criticized the American social structure, exposing the hypocrisy that was hidden behind the foreign policy of the American government of those years.
Listen to the song below: