We have girls’ names beginning with the letter “S” for our prompt this week for Song Lyric Sunday, hosted by Jim Adams.
My pick today is “Susie Q” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. The song has been covered by several artists over the years but this version is, in my opinion, the best. I love CCR!
This was co-written and originally recorded by rockabilly singer Dale Hawkins in 1956. His version hit US #27 a year later. Eleanor Broadwater and Stan Lewis wrote it with Hawkins.
This was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s first single (not counting “Porterville,” which was released when the band was known as The Golliwogs). They went on to become one of the biggest bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s thanks to a string of hits written by their leader, John Fogerty. Early on though, they recorded more cover songs, including “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.” “Susie Q” was their only single not written or co-written by Fogerty to reach the Top 40.
John Fogerty had big plans for “Susie Q” from the start. He intended for it to define CCR’s distinct character. In Bad Moon Rising: The Unofficial History of Creedence Clearwater Revivial, he said, “I knew I needed to work on arranging the song so that the band would sound like Creedence Clearwater Revivial, would sound professional, mysterious and also have their own definition. The song I chose was ‘Susie Q.’ I decided not to write the song myself. I decided to pick something that existed because it’d just be easier. I’d be less self-conscious about doing things.”
The album version runs 8:39. It evolved into a lengthy jam because the band had to fill long sets at their gigs.
The Rolling Stones covered this in 1964. Creedence had been playing the song at live shows, but stopped when The Stones released their version.
This was produced with liberal use of late ’60s studio tricks, including wide stereo separation, feedback, and vocal distortion.
When asked what the rhymes are in the latter part of the song, bass player Stu Cook said, “They were just simple rhymes. John hated it when songwriters used simple rhymes just to make things rhyme, so this was a statement against that. It was sort of anti-Dylan.”
This became popular on the West Coast before it was available on vinyl. The band brought a cassette tape of the song to a San Francisco DJ, who played it in appreciation for the group’s earlier support of a DJ strike.
Thanks to this song, girls named Susie are often nicknamed “Susie Q.”
The guitar riff on the original version was created by James Burton, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 as a sideman. John Fogerty said that when he heard Burton’s riff for the first time, he was in his mother’s car and got very excited. “I went crazy and immediately began banging on the dashboard.”
CCR also included a cover of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ (no relation to Dale) “I Put A Spell On You” on the Creedence Clearwater Revival album. The band’s label, Fantasy Records, released their renditions of these songs as singles around the same time; “Susie Q” peaked at #11 US in November 1968 and “I Put A Spell On You” reached its apex of #58 in December.
The next seven CCR singles hit the Top 4 with their A-sides:
“Proud Mary” (#2)/”Born on the Bayou”
“Bad Moon Rising” (#2)/”Lodi” (#52)
“Green River” (#2)/”Commotion” (#30)
“Down on the Corner” (#3)/”Fortunate Son” (#14 the week before Billboard decided to combine both sides into one chart position)
“Travelin’ Band”/”Who’ll Stop the Rain” (#2 combined)
“Up Around the Bend”/”Run Through the Jungle” (#4 combined)
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door”/”Long as I See the Light” (#2 combined).
The Susie Q was a popular dance step in the ’30s.
The single was titled “Susie Q (part 1)” and ran 4:33. The B-side was “Susie Q (part 2),” clocking in at 3:48.
This is one of the few Creedence songs where vocals of band members besides John Fogerty are heard. You can hear his bandmates in the second part of the song.
Courtesy of Songfacts
LYRICS Oh Susie Q, oh Susie Q Oh Susie Q baby I love you, Susie Q I like the way you walk I like the way you talk I like the way you walk I like the way you talk Susie Q Well, say that you'll be true Well, say that you'll be true Well, say that you'll be true and never leave me blue, Susie Q Well, say that you'll be mine Well, say that you'll be mine, Well, say that you'll be mine, baby all the time, Susie Q Uh uh Uh uh Uh uh Uh uh Oh Susie Q, oh Susie Q Oh Susie Q, baby I love you, Susie Q I like the way you walk I like the way you talk I like the way you walk I like the way you talk, Susie Q Oh Susie Q, oh Susie Q Oh Susie Q, baby I love you, Susie Q Writer/s: Dale Hawkins, Stanley J. Lewis, Eleanor Broadwater Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind