The Original vs. The Cover – “Proud Mary”

For the next edition of The Original vs. The Cover, we are going with the classic song “Proud Mary” originally done by Creedence Clearwater Revival and covered by Ike & Tina Turner.  The song was written by John Fogerty and released in January 1969 on the band’s album ‘Bayou Country’.  This song has had 100’s of covers made of it, but in 1969 alone, there were 35 covers…35!!!  Unbelievable.

The song was written by Fogerty after he was discharged from the Army in 1967 which was the the “good job” he left in the city.  “Proud Mary” is the name of the River Boat and the song is about that journey down the river with the big water wheel rolling around and around pushing them down the river.  The song went to #2 for CCR and #4 for Ike & Tina on Billboard Hot 100 charts which is pretty respectable for both.

But enough about that.  Let us focus on the song and which version is better.  We will start as we usually do with the Original and then discuss the Cover ending with a wonderful Verdict of which one I like more.  And away we go…



The CCR version was a simple tune that has that 60’s hippie, folk sound that chugs along with a good rhythm and is driven by that John Fogerty vocal that is unmistakeable. Fogerty wanted to capture a gospel feel on the vocals and did that with the line “Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river”.  There is a simple guitar solo too that harken backs to the style of Steve Cropper whom which Fogerty was a fan.  Cropper was guitarists for Stax records and recorded with Booker T & the M.G.’s.

The easy feeling with song captures the essence of a person who feels they are an outsider and goes on a journey to find himself and finds that he fits in nicely with other outsiders in the riverboat community.  For me, it has this whole Tom Sawyer, Mark Twain vibe to it.



The song appears on their album ‘Workin’ Together’ and was released in 1971.  Ike & Tina Turner take the song, twist it and turn it on its side and make it their own signature song.  They break the song in to two parts according to Tina as she introduces the song…one “nice and easy” and one “nice and rough”.  Ike delivers a fantastic deep bass backing vocals that accompanies Tina in the slow & easy.  Tina’s vocals are sexy and delivered in a way only Tina can.

The second half of the song is definitely rough.  It is funky, fast and ferocious.  They turn the tempo up to 10 and Tina belts out the lyrics that get you singing along and dancing with that beat that instantly grabs you and lifts you up.  It turns the song into a fun groove that is so contagious and memorable.  They kept a church feel to it as well, but in this one the whole congregation jumps to their feet with their hands raised to the Lord singing along.  It is easy to see how this became a signature song for her.


As much as I like the Creedence Clearwater Revival original version of the song (it is fantastic), I have to lean towards Ike & Tina Turner’s version.  They bring a new life to the song, they make it their own and there is no denying the greatness to Tina’s vocals.  The emotion and sultriness she brings to the lyrics is unparalleled.  I like the simplicity of the CCR version, but the added power to the song, the funk style and just everything about Ike & Tina’s version just speaks to me more.

I don’t think you can go wrong with either version so I am really interested in hearing what everyone else thinks of these two songs.  Let me know which version you like the best and why.  Feel free to leave a comment and talk about the song and tell me how right or wrong I am on this one.  Thanks for stopping by and have a great day.

“Proud Mary”

Left a good job in the city,
Workin’ for the man ev’ry night and day,
And I never lost one minute of sleepin’,
Worryin’ ’bout the way things might have been.Big wheel keep on turnin’,
Proud Mary keep on burnin’,
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis,
Pumped a lot of ‘pane down in New Orleans,
But I never saw the good side of the city,
‘Til I hitched a ride on a river boat queen.

Big wheel keep on turnin’,
Proud Mary keep on burnin’,
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.

If you come down to the river,
Bet you gonna find some people who live.
You don’t have to worry ’cause you have no money,
People on the river are happy to give.

Big wheel keep on turnin’,
Proud Mary keep on burnin’,
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.
Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’ on the river.

Written by John Fogerty

18 thoughts on “The Original vs. The Cover – “Proud Mary”

  1. I was “pysched” (a word from the era of this tune) when I saw this post. I didn’t know where my ears would take me. While I side with Ike and Tina here, I was ready to say that you really have 3 songs in the comparison. Then Aphoristical in the first comment “took the words right out of my mouth” … but that’s introducing a fourth song into this discussion. 🙂 Good song choice and good post!


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