John Fogerty had not partnered with another songwriter since he teamed with another Fogerty — his brother Tom — in the heady, hit-making days of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Then Brad Paisley called. The country superstar had an idea for a song, an album and a video.
“He said he had this song that was very powerful with a powerful message, and wanted to get together and work on it,” Fogerty said Saturday afternoon just before sound check for his “Fortunate Son” series at Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. “I was a little nervous, because I had not collaborated with anyone since my brother, but I am such a huge fan of Brad’s I said, ‘Sure, let’s try to do this organically.’ “
The song on Paisley’s mind was “Love and War,” an unvarnished message about our country’s care (or lack thereof) of military veterans. The song’s unyielding chorus: “They say all is fair in love and war. But that ain’t true, it’s wrong. They ship you out to die for us. Forget about you, when you don’t.”
For Paisley, the song was to be written with Fogerty — or not at all.
“He said, ‘If this doesn’t work out, I’m not doing the song and I’m calling the album something else,’ ” Fogerty said. “I went, ‘Well, no pressure there!’ “
But the writing flowed as the artists shared an acute interest in the topic.
“The subject is as important now as it’s ever been,” said Fogerty, who joined an Army Reserve unit in the mid-1960s, serving at Fort Bragg, during the Vietnam War (a photo of him during his service days is shown during the video). “Back in the day, people who protested the war had a difficult time separating the veterans coming home from the war from the policies that sent them there. But you can support the veterans and still protest our government’s policies.”
Fogerty said the song is very “conversational,” stemming from the long talks he had with Paisley. Their voices are similar, sounding as if a single voice is carrying the tune, even during harmonies.
“He’s saying something, and I’m saying something back, almost in the same voice,” Fogerty said. “If we had some insight to add, we’d just write it down on paper and try it. I think you can feel the heart in the song.”
There has been some buzz around Fogerty’s camp that Paisley will actually perform the song with Fogerty as this run closes Sunday.
“He’s welcome to,” Fogerty says, smiling. As it is, the song is played midway through the show, opening with a few moments of the video and Fogerty then taking it away, live.
It’s the lone change in his set list for “Fortunate Son,” which is loaded with classics from Fogerty’s days with Creedence and his solo career. The show is expected to return in September and again in July.
“I love playing Las Vegas,” Fogerty said. “At first, I was wondering if it would be any different from any other venues we’ve played, but it’s not. They love to rock and roll here, and we love playing it.”