Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys: #447 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Willy and the Poor Boys

So why is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Willy and the Poor Boys on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

There are a bunch of reasons why Willy and the Poor Boys is not only Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “highest” ranked album on this here best 1,000 albums ever project, but also has a pretty plum spot at #447 (though not quite as high as Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums list, which has it all the way up there at #193).

When I glance at the playlist, there are a handful of songs that I easily consider to be both great songs and “big hits,” and my rationale for the latter is simply that they were included on a CCR “best of” double CD set that I played the hell out of during my college years. These include “Down on the Corner,” “Fortunate Son,” and “Midnight Special.”

But there’s a song that I’ve become obsessed with in subsequent years that was not included on that best of set: “Effigy.” It’s a moody and deeply compelling number with a gorgeous, clean guitar sound and incredible harmonizing from John Fogerty and crew. As with “Fortunate Son,” this song is also a striking political statement, though it can be interpreted in different ways.

While “Fortunate Son” is a crystal-clear indictment of elites starting bloody wars for which their own children will never directly partake, “Effigy” seems to be more about the mood of a country pushed into a war – which heavily relied upon a military draft for recruits – without a clear purpose or rationale.

I realized during the course of writing this piece that the first time I became aware of a CCR song was by way of the Twilight Zone: The Movie, which came out in 1983. That means that it likely landed on cable (read = HBO, now known as Max!) sometime in 1984, which dovetailed with an era when I would absorb every movie I could get my eyes in front of.

The song is “Midnight Special,” and I liked it right away. It’s a rollicking country rock song, and perfect to play alongside the road trip depicted in the film. In terms of the movie* as a whole, which is an anthology of different horror/science fiction stories, I have mixed feelings. Parts of it are quite good, and others not so much. And honestly, it creeped me out when I was a little kid when the one dude says to the other (while “Midnight Special” is playing), “Do you want to see something really scary?”

* And in terms of CCR songs used in movies, probably the most famous one is “Fortunate One” as used in Forrest Gump, when old Forrest is over in Vietnam with poor Bubba.

I speculated that “Down on the Corner” might be the most popular CCR song on Spotify by way of the number of plays, but it’s “all the way down” at #6 with over 323 million plays as of this writing. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” is #1, if you’re curious, with over one billion plays!

I’ve always thought of “Down on the Corner” as kind of the Most Creedence Clearwater Revival Song. It’s just so “simple” (read = doing simple well is hard, really hard) and joyful and expressive and somehow deeply American in the best kinds of ways all at once.

Some stats & info about Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rock Music, Country Rock
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – #193
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Willy and the Poor Boys released? 1969
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #447 out of 1,000

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Willy and the Poor Boys on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Willy and the Poor Boys that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

Down on the corner, out in the street, Willy and the Poor Boys are playing, bring a nickel, tap your feet.

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.