Los Angeles band Ozomatli is just one of the artists covering Creedence Clearwater Revival on the new album 'Quiero Creedence.' (Courtesy Concord Music Group)
The East Bay city of El Cerrito is small. It's home to about 24,000 people. But for music fans, it's best known as the birthplace of Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Although the band was together only from 1967 to 1972, CCR's hits were radio staples. Songs like "Suzie Q," "Bad Moon Rising," Fortunate Son," "Green River" and many others were heard around the world -- and especially beloved in Latin America.
Quiero Creedence, a new compilation album of Latin artists covering CCR, has just been released.
One of the project's producers is Juan Manuel Caipo, who along with his bandmate, Deuce Eclipse, is also featured on the album with their band, Oakland's Bang Data.
How did this project come together?
Juan Manuel Caipo: I came up with this idea five years ago. I was in Oakland, grabbing a beer, and I remember hearing Creedence and it just hit me: a tribute album with all these bands from all over the world. The whole idea was to discover new artists, along with the classic artists from all over Latin America.
I recall meeting Diana Rodriguez, who’s a partner and executive producer, at the Elbo Room. She’s more of a label person, she worked for EMI Capitol. And I remember going, ‘I have this idea, I want to run it by you,’ and her eyes popped and she said “I love Creedence.” That’s where the conversation started and we just little by little started organically figuring out how we were going to do this.
Were all the artists Creedence fans? Did they come to you and say, ‘I want to do this particular song’?
Caipo: We gave them the freedom to choose, but sometimes I would send five songs to one artist, ‘Here’s this list.' And sometimes they wouldn’t even look at that but, for instance, Los Lobos, they picked "Bootleg." I don't think I had never even heard that song. It’s killer and their version is just awesome.
Los Enanitos Verdes picked "Travelin' Band," which identifies with them. Those guys tour all the time, all over Latin America. Ozomatli picked "Bad Moon Rising." The lyrics have a lot to do with what’s going on today. It's prophetic in a way.
And then in Bang Data’s case, we always loved that song ("Fortunate Son") but no one would pick it! That’s when Deuce and I jumped on it. We said we should probably start working on it before it’s too late!
Deuce, what did you want to bring to 'Fortunate Son'?
Deuce Eclipse: I wanted to honor John Fogerty, which is a really hard thing to do 'cause his voice is such his own instrument. I tried to give it as much soul as I could. I just wanted it to have that kind of feel because really, in the end, it’s real rooted in the culture of America and what was going on at that time during the Vietnam War.
And I just wanted to add to it because I feel like today, the lyrics are relevant. And politically this country has gone through a lot and we’re going through a lot right now. So my mind frame going into it was trying to bring it to life again, here in the now, and show people the world hasn’t changed that much, no matter how we look at it. We’re still struggling. We’re still fighting. We’re still at war.
There are a lot of different types of music and artists on the record. Do you have a favorite track?
Eclipse: Los Lonely Boys is one of my favorites. I heard the actual vocal before anything was done to it. And it was pretty intimidating ‘cause the guy can sing. It was perfect. I really like the Juan Gabriel track a lot. It’s such a true little song, it’s really beautiful.
Caipo: That was a big thing and he turned it around so quick. It has this borderline mariachi pop beat from the '70s. It's very smooth.
Describe Juan Gabriel to those who might not know him.
Caipo: He’s a super legend, mega-star songwriter. He’s written songs for everybody since he was 17 years old. You can consider him Mexico’s Prince, his spectrum is so wide. He writes amazing mariachi songs, he’s a producer, pianist, major composer, and he’s known for singing his own compositions. It was the cherry on top for the album. He represents a lot of Mexican culture at an international level.
What do you think the connection is between CCR’s music and the Latino Community?
Caipo: I had this feeling from the very beginning, because I lived in Peru, that Creedence was huge all over Latin America.
When I moved back to California, I had friends who were Mexican or Salvadorans, they were bumping Creedence. We later found out that the biggest fan base they have is in Mexico. And whatever happens in Mexico spreads all over South America, too, everything has to do with music. Latinos are rockers; they follow classic rock when stuff started back then.
Eclipse: As a Latino, I can see America had a lot of the groups that Latinos were influenced by. I can see how they were influenced by CCR because you could play it in your garage. The melodies are so easy to catch, you can learn it. It has a gritty reality and truthfulness to it that transcends language. And Latinos when they hear American music, they want to know what they’re saying so I’m sure they went to the lyrics like, oh, he’s singing about this. It’s a struggle that we can relate to as people.
Fogerty was really grass-roots with his ideals. He was revolutionary in a sense without shoving it in your face. It was said in such a melodic, strong, truthful way that resonates over time. Whatever sounds good, we’re going to get on it as Latinos and be influenced by it.
What do you want listeners to take away from this tribute?
Eclipse: They are such an epic group, it is just an ode to them, an ode to America and an ode to us. America and Latino America, we’re right next door. We relate in a lot of ways and through music. Take a connection away, two cultures in one. Embrace it.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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