Creedence Clearwater Revival–Susie Q

On the surface, there’s nothing that special about Susie Q.  It’s a simple rock standard that’s been covered repeatedly.  Creedence Clearwater Revival’s version might be the most famous, with its swampy, bluesy flair marking it out from other releases.  Still, it’s not the type of song that makes you think too deeply.  That’s what makes the way it’s used in Apocalypse Now so subversively brilliant.  It begins normally enough, with Playboy Bunnies dancing to the song at a USO show in Vietnam.  But things get out of hand quickly, as the desperate enlistees rush the stage and make a grab at the dancers.  The disastrous performance is quickly abandoned, with the Bunnies whisked away by helicopter.  Surely the scene is commenting on bigger things, but it also reveals the threatening and possessive nature of rock ‘n’ roll, from the very earliest and most straightforward tracks.  The song suddenly sounds dark, toxic and obsessive.  It doesn’t feel so run of the mill anymore.  Instead, its lechery is front and center.  While that’s a very bad thing for the Playboy Bunnies, it’s a great thing for the song.  It’s instantly much more memorable and meaningful: a slithering, desperate lo-fi groove that leaves you feeling downright dirty after a listen.

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