John Fogerty has criticized the title of the new movie Proud Mary, after creators borrowed the name and modified lyrics from his 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival classic.
The singer and songwriter said he wasn’t consulted about the project, and he’s unhappy about the filmmakers’ use of his original intent to promote the thriller — which stars Taraji P. Henson as an assassin — that open in theaters today.
“There is a movie in current release called Proud Mary. I don’t know much about it other than this,” Fogerty said in a statement. “The main character is a black woman who is also an assassin. And apparently her name is Mary. I wrote the song ‘Proud Mary’ 50 years ago, and I was very excited to have written such a good song. In fact, it was my very first good song. My songs are special to me. Precious. So it irks me when people seek to capitalize on the popularity of my music and the good will it has earned with the public for their own financial gain. Over the years, I have often found myself directly opposed to these uses. This movie has nothing to do with me or my song. They simply picked the title and wrote a completely fictitious story around it.”
Fogerty went on to describe the background of the song’s creation and explain how its intent is at odds with the movie’s apparent plot. “Back in the day, I had decided that I needed to become more professional, more organized about my songwriting efforts,” he said. “I bought a little notebook and after few days, I wrote down the words ‘Proud Mary’. It was the very first entry in this book. At first, I didn’t even know what those words meant. I wrote the song about a mythical riverboat, cruising on a mythical river, in a mythical time. Perhaps, the setting was ‘back in time’ on the Mississippi River. It was obviously a metaphor about leaving painful, stressful things behind for a more tranquil and meaningful life. Far from a story about killing people for money.”
A spokesman for Fogerty confirmed to Rolling Stone that there were no plans to pursue legal action against the movie’s producers. Still, Fogerty noted, “No one ever asked me about using my song this way, or even about the meaning of ‘Proud Mary.’ The movie poster has my lyrics changed to read ‘Killing for the Man every night and day’.”