Certain Songs #258: Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Ramble Tamble”

cosmos Album: Cosmo’s Factory
Year: 1970

It goes without saying that Creedence Clearwater Revival were American originals, and still one of the greatest singles bands ever.

And in fact, those singles were so dominant on the radio of my youth and in the albums that I own, I’ve only ever loved one of their albums start-to-finish: 1970’s titanic Cosmo’s Factory

Of course, that just might be because Cosmo’s Factory starts with their greatest non-single — and quite possibly their greatest song — the onomatopoetically-named “Ramble Tamble,” which was once named by The A.V. Club as “The Most Rockin’ Song of All-Time.”

That’s as may be, but I do know this: I love “Ramble Tamble” so much that I wrote about it in the earlier incarnation of “Certain Songs” without explaining what’s so amazing about it.

So let me attempt to that now. Within seconds, “Ramble Tamble” establishes itself as a guitar rattling two-step lightspeed choogle. Then Fogerty starts spitting out images jiggery-pokery:

There’s garbage on the sidewalk
Highways in the back yard
Po-lice on the corner
Mortgage on the car
Mortgage on the car

Down the road I go

And after a couple of minutes, Doug Cook starts slowing it down with a long drum roll until the whole thing just ends, and you think “well, that was … interesting.”

And then the middle section starts up. The grand, glorious instrumental section that somehow combines The Beatles & The Velvet Underground and prefigures 1980s indie guitar bands to boot. It’s not a guitar solo or an improvisational jam. More like a perfectly thought-out orchestral piece where everything is perfectly in place.

And somehow CCR manage to rock the fuck out of it. It’s one of the greatest things ever created by human beings.

It starts as a circular guitar part that almost instantly gets wider and wider, but the drums playing slowly, dragging against the guitars, fighting like hell in a futile attempt to keep the guitars from taking over everything. But Fogerty just adds more guitars, and the drums ever so slowly speed up, like the expansion of the universe until they give in and play a straight beat. By then, though the original circular guitar part is now buried under a cacophony of echoing riffs and long slide guitar parts that explode like skyrockets in the fog as you suddenly realize that the song has now sped back up to the point where it’s almost as fast as the opening choogle and the drums are double-timing while the skyrockets are still going off and it’s now doing nothing but expanding expanding expanding expanding faster and faster and faster and faster until it finally explodes into the original guitar riff from the beginning of the song.

Whoa. Can we play that again, please? But it’s too late: Fogerty is already off, riding his lightspeed choogle. And because he’s clearly a wizard, he needs to predict the 1980s lyrically well.

And then, because he’s clearly a wizard from the future, Fogerty predicts the 1980s lyrically as well:

They’re selling independence
Actors in the White House
Acid indigestion
Mortgage on my life
Mortgage on my life

Actors in the White House” was, of course, totally metaphorical until it became all too real.

Downnnnnnn the road I go. Ramble tamble. Ramble tamble. Ramble tamble.

Pretty cool fan-made French video for “Ramble Tamble”

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