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The ordeal left its mark in personal frustrations and creative stagnation. Fogerty's first marriage broke up in 1987. He heard music in his head but couldn't reproduce it to his own satisfaction. As he worked on Blue Moon Swamp's eerie A Hundred and Ten in the Shade, he thought the tune needed the insinuating underpinning of a bottleneck guitar. Instead of hiring a player, Fogerty commenced to teach himself the technique and, after a year, "I got fairly proficient. [Then] it became obvious that it was the wrong sound. It didn't match what was in my head. I finally realized it was the Dobro sound I was hearing." So he taught himself to play Dobro, an acoustic instrument that is played slide guitar-style on the lap. It turned out to be a 3 1/2-year undertaking. But he got it right that time.
He also got himself a new wife, Julie, now 37, a stepdaughter and two young sons, a "reconnection to the man who wrote those songs" for Creedence that for years he refused to sing, and a new album that can stand with the best he's ever done. He plays the Dobro on a tune for Julie--Joy of My Life, "the only love song I've ever written" and a symbol of his revival. "I'd lost the ability to create," he says. "I've found it again. I call it the miracle."
Trying to dredge Blue Moon Swamp out of himself, Fogerty took several trips--"pilgrimages," he calls them--to the Mississippi Delta. "I was chasing ghosts," he says. Perhaps it was those ghosts of Robert Johnson and all the other bluesmen who drove off his demons, and produced a miracle that all of us can share.
--With reporting by James Willwerth/Los Angeles