John Fogerty was fed up. After the label rejected his Hoodoo album in 1976 and dogged by legal hassles, the former frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival walked away from the music industry.
When the songwriter was finally inspired to return to the recording studio, a decade had passed since he'd released an album. Getting back into the swing of things, he penned the song "I Saw It on TV," when got the creative juices flowing. Cranking out a series of tracks, Fogerty wasn't completely sure the sound was what the label was hoping to hear, despite a familiar feeling.
"I knew it sounded like Creedence, and I wondered if Warners thought they were getting Michael Jackson or some modern synth-rock," Fogerty admitted years after the fact. "I had to find out if I was working on the right thing. It was like in The Shining, when you think the guy is working on a book, but all he's been doing is typing the same line over and over. I thought maybe I was out there somewhere, lost."
Neither Fogerty or the label had any reason to worry. The album's first single, "The Old Man Down the Road," released in December 1984, would crash the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100. The album, released on January 14, 1985, would fly to #1 on the Billboard 200 in March 1985.
The second single from Centerfield, "Rock and Roll Girls," wouldn't fare quite as well, peaking at #20. The song on the B-side, however, would prove to be a timeless hit. "Centerfield," the title track, would become one of rock's all-time favorite baseball songs. It's played at ballparks across the country every baseball season, and has become synonymous with the sport.
"In 1968 I always used to say that I wanted to make records they would still play on the radio in ten years," Fogerty told Rolling Stone in 1993 when asked about the Centerfield album. "The early Creedence stuff reflected my personality. I made a conscious effort to stop imitating other groups. That was my philosophy in '68. Well, I finally found that inner voice again. And I've been searching for that inner voice even through the experience of Centerfield. I knew I hadn't quite discovered that guy. I could see him through the shades. Now I just feel that I have that guy well in hand. This record reflects that person very strongly."
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