Tiny Desk Concerts is a video series of live concerts hosted by NPR Music at the desk of All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen in Washington, D.C.
The first Tiny Desk Concert came about in 2008 after Boilen and NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson left a bar show frustrated that they couldn’t hear the music over the crowd noise. Thompson joked that the musician, folk singer Laura Gibson, should just perform at Boilen’s desk. A month later Boilen arranged for her to do just that, making an impromptu recording and posting it online The name is taken from Boilen’s 1970s psychedelic dance band called Tiny Desk Unit.
As of May 2020, the series includes more than 1,000 concerts.
Recently, however, because of COVID-19, the Tiny Desk began working from “home”, and introduced NPR Music’s Tiny Desk (home) concerts. These home concerts bring performances from across the country and the world. It’s the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.
I got wind of these home concerts when an old friend posted a link to Facebook regarding a recent Tiny Desk (home) performance, featuring John Fogerty and his family. Who could resist clicking on such a link?
And I was certainly not disappointed.
Here’s how NPR describes it:
When John Fogerty breaks out his baseball bat guitar and swings into that famous guitar lick from “Centerfield” to open his Tiny Desk (home) concert, I can almost taste the Cracker Jacks. Welcome to Fogerty’s Factory, the tricked-out basement where the Fogerty Family (John, his sons Tyler and Shane, and his daughter Kelsy) make music in these quarantined times. His desk is the road case his band Creedence Clearwater Revival used when they played Woodstock, and John shows off a guitar he played at the festival as well. He plays three of his CCR classics from 50 years ago (still singing in the same key), surrounded by family and sending out words of encouragement to all of us. The set list included: “Centerfield”, “Down On The Corner”, “Long As I Can See The Light”, and “Proud Mary”.
Fogerty’s voice, and his and CCR’s music are still great. Listening to “Centerfield” really made me miss baseball. It was wonderful watching Fogerty perform these songs in such an intimate setting, with three of his children accompanying him.
It was also cool seeing Fogerty point out the guitar he played at Woodstock.
But it seems like perhaps the Tiny Desk performance is not the only one Fogerty and family have been sharing during the lockdown.
Fogerty recently released a version of his old band’s classic Green River.
Loudersound explains it this way:
He (Fogerty) performs the song in what we assume is the back yard of his home in Ventura County, California. But to call it his ‘back yard’ is to undersell the magnificence of the surrounding. There’s an incredible view. It’s sunset. A fire pit. They’re toasting marshmallows. A golden retriever joins in.
Fogerty also explains the origin of the song:
Fogerty also explains the origins of Green River. “Right up the street from the house I lived in El Cerrito was a pharmacy: a drugstore with a soda fountain,” he says. “And one of the drinks they would make for you was a ‘Green River’. I stared at the label on that bottle of syrup when I was about eight years old and I said, ‘I’m going to save that. That’s important.’ And for some reason it stuck in my head, and eventually all this stuff became a song.”
Here’s the performance:
What a setting, and a song, indeed…