Last year, Doug “Cosmo” Clifford closed the book on being a touring musician. Creating and releasing tunes, though, that's still happening.
Clifford, a drummer and a founding member of legendary rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival — just dropped Magic Window, an album of 10 songs he recorded back in 1985 and popped on a shelf.
He recorded it in his Lake Tahoe, Nevada, home with a little help from his friends: engineer/guitarist Russell DaShiell, bassist Chris Solberg, and rhythm guitarist Rob Polomsky.
“Russell was living with us at that time,” Clifford says. “I made a deal with him — I gave him room and board, and in exchange, he could use the studio whenever I wasn’t. It was a good deal for both of us.”
“Solberg,” he adds, “was a Bay Area boy, and he’d come up from there and play. Robby was a local guy who was playing in bars — he still does; he loves it."
Magic Window covers a lot of ground. It's kicked off by the title track, a driving rock number fueled by bluesy riffs that carry you effortlessly through its five-minute length.
“Hungry for Your Love” gives blues addicts more to sink their teeth into. “Love Mode” has the blues, too, but it also has a vocal sharpness and a peppy drumbeat that captures a bit of the pop sounds that were helping dominate the airwaves in that decade, a la bands like The Cars.
Clifford is happy with the results. “I like collaborating,” he says, describing some of Magic Window’s process. “I’d hear something that sparked, and that would be followed by a rush of getting it all down pretty fast. The best ones happened in like 20 minutes, you know, boom, there it is.”
You could make assumptions about “Don’t Leave Me Alone Tonight” by its title alone, and you probably wouldn’t be wrong. The ache-filled ballad stresses the importance of immediate connection. It’s a tune Clifford feels people need these days.
So, why did he wait 35 years for the big reveal? The reason is a pretty common one: He had plenty of projects that kept him occupied.
For one, he and Stu Cook, bassist and also a CCR original member, formed Creedence Clearwater Revisited as a way to play some of the group’s beloved classics. They devoted a quarter of a century to that band before calling it a day.
It wasn’t just rock 'n' roll that Clifford was giving his time to. A very different goal sparked his interest: fire prevention.
“I got involved in some things that were community-oriented,” Clifford says. He's worked in Lake Tahoe on a “save-the-forest type of fire prevention program and things dealing with fuels management.” He's received awards for his volunteer program that brought together property owners and the federal government to deal with fire issues. (Clifford also maintains an Arizona getaway abode.)
It was about a year ago that he dug up those old tapes. “I found the reels these songs were on and was luckily able to get it from tape to digital to preserve it without fail,” Clifford says.
He knows that part of the equation of a new release is getting out there and touring to support it, but Clifford has made his peace with those road days being over. He turned 75 on the day of the release and hopes that those birthday vibes will infuse the record with more goodness.
He’s excited for people to hear it and to enjoy his creative output. “I picked a career in music,” he says, “because it’s such a strong factor in my life. Whether you’re feeling up or down, there’s always music that finds a place within that framework. If it’s classical music or classic rock, what’s great is what gets into your soul and gives you that love that you need.”