Proud Mary, which features “Empire” star Taraji P. Henson as a hit woman, opens in theaters Friday and it’s a safe bet that John Fogerty will not be in the audience.
The rocker, who wrote the rock classic from which the movie takes its name, penned a scorching rebuke of the movie and its attempt to capitalize on the popularity of his song on Thursday (Jan. 11). While he has not seen an advance of the film, his ire comes from seeing the words of the 1969 Creedence Clearwater Revival hit changed from “working for the man every night and day” to “killing for the man every night and day” on the movie poster and the film’s appropriation of his song title.
In his statement, Fogerty says, “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.”
While the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer’s representative says he plans no legal action — he could not come after the filmmakers for using the song title — he remains miffed that no one from the film asked about using his song this way and makes it clear that if he has been asked, he would have declined.
Fogerty’s statement in full is below:
“There is a movie in current release called ‘Proud Mary.’ I don’t know much about it other than this. 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. Back in the day, I had decided that I needed to become more professional, more organized about my songwriting efforts. 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. 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.’ 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.”