How to Play Proud Mary by Creedence Clearwater Revival (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Brennan

Proud Mary

Hitting #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1969, this Bayou-influenced rock song features clean rhythms and smooth, vocal-like lead lines. Resident instructor Mark Brennan masterfully teaches this song, and his wife, Marla Brennan, sings on the demonstration.

Taught by Mark Brennan in Rock Songs with Mark seriesLength: 36:25Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

Video Subtitles / Captions

Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

AngelgabrielAngelgabriel replied on September 22nd, 2017

If I get stranded on a desert island. Hope Mark Brennan is washed up with a guitar ! Many can play, most can't teach. Superb

KeziapurrsKeziapurrs replied on November 1st, 2016

Love the lesson! Only wish the music was in downloadable PDF form.

stevenotesstevenotes replied on October 1st, 2016

Thanks Mark Thanks for the riffs ... got to work hard on solo (not natural to me) Steve

MaulwurfMaulwurf replied on May 18th, 2016

Very good explanation of music theory to the guitar

paul112paul112 replied on April 5th, 2016

Thought the rhythm section was well done ..Not so much on the riffs and solo ...Found it very hard to follow with the tab

beehobeeho replied on January 26th, 2015

The best teaching. And it ends with the vocals. Your wife sounds nice.

beachbum1938beachbum1938 replied on December 15th, 2014

Mark thank You; Best instructional video that I have seen I will say a perfect job. with your help I believe I can play Proud Mary.

ames57ames57 replied on September 7th, 2014

Hi, I was wondering if this song will be tabbed for Guitar Pro 6. It would be super helpful if it were. Thanks.

wbukwbuk replied on April 16th, 2013

great lesson. curious if you don't mind, are those the noiceless pickups, the N3? lesson is so helpful, thanks

dc220dc220 replied on March 15th, 2013

Of course, John tunes his guitar down a step and plays it in E. Any chance of adding a supplement for those of us who tune like John?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on April 17th, 2013

Yes, on a song like Bad Moon Rising he does tune his guitar down a whole step. But not on Proud Mary....this song is in standard tuning and is in the key of D.

jean3wjean3w replied on November 13th, 2012

Great job - Thanks. Just wondering if you could count out measures 16 and 17 in the solo (like you did with measures 6 and 7.

terryvaughnterryvaughn replied on May 11th, 2012

loved the lesson, fantastic demo. great teacher. thanks so much

terryvaughnterryvaughn replied on May 11th, 2012

loved the lesson, fantastic demo. great teacher. thanks so much

alan1965alan1965 replied on March 12th, 2012

Strumming patterns on supplemental content. what does the flag-pole withe two poles indicate? is this the strumming pattern? there is a V also i thought this was indicating a downstroke. i can't make the strumming pattern out from the sup. content. is it even indicated?

halldavidrhalldavidr replied on January 28th, 2012

Loved the lesson. We play this song in my hobby band. I'm the rhythm guitarist and your lesson showed me the many subtleties in the song. Thank you.

SkyblowSkyblow replied on January 27th, 2012

is it me, or did this dude just turn purple?

biff22biff22 replied on December 3rd, 2011

There are not 154 songs that are better than Proud Mary. Ask Ike and Tina.

tconnertconner replied on November 4th, 2011

I wanted to use (E shape) bar chords instead of the other fingerings on the G and F chords. Just didnt know if I still hold the D note down to get the F6 chord or do I hold another note when Im playing a basic F major chord (E shape)

digideldigidel replied on August 4th, 2011

Hi, Can only play introduction, Then video stops and wont continue to next part :(

digideldigidel replied on August 4th, 2011

Seems OK now so please remove this post.

tedgarrisontedgarrison replied on July 2nd, 2011

This is just simply the best. Thanks!

nash24nash24 replied on April 24th, 2011

great lesson. love your style and your wife is great. thanks!!!!

valentinandersenvalentinandersen replied on April 8th, 2011

Thank you for an excellent lesson og give my regards to your wife: very, very nice voice

nibalartnibalart replied on March 26th, 2011

Thank you very much for your efforts to make our musician life side very easy.

beeho15beeho15 replied on March 25th, 2011

You are a wonderful teacher. thank you so very much

sirstratsirstrat replied on March 22nd, 2011

Mark That is great. Thank you. Please do some Q & A's? Bob

cutelunaticcutelunatic replied on March 17th, 2011

Great job Mark, as usual. I would love to learn the solo on "I Put A Spell On You". Thanks.

ames57ames57 replied on March 16th, 2011

I love the old classics, and I enjoy your teaching style. As for filming from the guitarist's view, I think that's just fine. i'd be happy with either that or the more traditional view. Thanks again Mark. You always put your all into these lessons.

mykemyke replied on March 14th, 2011

This new view from the perspective of the player is really awful. When any other time your learning off of someone facing you and you get used to that way of looking at it it just messes you up to pretend your looking over their shoulder.

jenolajenola replied on March 15th, 2011

For me this works fine. It's exactly the same way you'll watch your own fingers. If yoy're used to follow an instructor not on video another angle may be more preferable.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied on March 14th, 2011

I understand where you're coming from with this, but I still think this is a very useful perspective. It's as if you were looking at the fretboard while playing it yourself. When you watch another player from the front, it's like a mirror image of how to play it.

mykemyke replied on March 15th, 2011

I know what the perspective is, just putting in my 2 cents. Love your lessons. Wish you were on the chat. Just prefer the view like your in the room. When trying to learn from someone in person the practice helps. Granted it may be easier to see in that perspective. It 's just that the recorded video's are the only time you'd get to see it that way. The other way just forces your to learn to follow someone in more of a live setting. Again really like the caliber of your song lessons. great stuff. Keep em coming.

caliban4caliban4 replied on March 15th, 2011

I can understand the differing views. I like the perspective though as it is actual and my brain does not have to turn it back to front so that frees up the little grey matter I have to concentrate on the song. BTW, your wife's vocal rendition was excellent. Sounded much like the original.

dont fretdont fret replied on March 15th, 2011

I dont mind what view it is as long as its CCR and i am learning it. Great work Mark. Keep them coming.

blinkyblinky replied on March 14th, 2011

Thanks so much for this. Working on the intro and you pivot finger tip really helps, I am still sloppier on the G than on the F, just that whole step position change must move my wrist out of ideal position but it is coming. Could not of imagined trying this a month ago. Thanks to your lessons I have made a quantum leap in technique.

Rock Songs with Mark

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Take a step back in time with Mark and learn to shred some rock n' roll classics.

Lesson 4

She Talks to Angels

Mark Brennan and his wife, Marla, take on "She Talks to Angels". This song is from The Black Crowes release, Shake Your Money Maker.

Length: 34:12 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Big Yellow Taxi

"Big Yellow Taxi" appears on Joni Mitchell's Ladies of the Canyon, released in 1970.

Length: 23:13 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 11


Mark teaches you the ins and outs of a Stevie Nicks' / Fleetwood Mac fan favorite. After Mark plays the full song demo, Marla (Mark's lovely wife) joins him and sings this beautiful song.

Length: 34:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 13

You and Me

Mark Brennan takes you through the mega hit that brought Lifehouse international attention.

Length: 23:34 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 14


Mark Brennan teaches this classic rock song by Jethro Tull.

Length: 69:09 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 15

Bad Moon Rising

Mark Brennan teaches this classic rock staple.

Length: 35:05 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 16

Down On The Corner

Mark Brennan teaches this Creedence Clearwater Revival classic.

Length: 31:14 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Proud Mary

Mark Brennan teaches this Creedence Clearwater Revival classic.

Length: 36:25 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 18

I've Got A Rock 'n' Roll Heart

Mark Brennan teaches you how to play this hit song from Eric Clapton. Released on Money And Cigarettes in 1983, the song has had a recent boost in popularity thanks to its use in a cell phone commercial.

Length: 75:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 19

Dear Prudence

Mark Brennan returns to JamPlay with a song lesson for "Dear Prudence" by The Beatles. Originally released on the famous White Album, this song was written about Prudence Farrow.

Length: 72:55 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 20


Mark Brennan returns to his Phase 3 lesson set with a lesson on the classic Beatles tune "Blackbird." This is a somewhat simple, but elegant fingerstyle acoustic arrangement that chronicles the struggles...

Length: 28:13 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 21

Rocky Raccoon

Mark Brennan returns with another song for his Phase 3 series. In this lesson, he tackles the Beatles tune "Rocky Raccoon." This is The Beatles' attempt at a bit of humor and some country western flair.

Length: 22:31 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only

About Mark Brennan View Full Biography Mark Brennan, born August 12th, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio, began playing guitar at the age of 10. His first influences were from the Ventures and the British Invasion, especially the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Shortly afterwards he was playing in rock bands with his brother on drums, developing his ear by learning songs straight from records. Playing in a band became a passion.

In high school, he grew to love acoustic and classical guitar. He spent time playing acoustic music, influenced by The Eagles, CSN, Dan Folgelberg, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, etc. In the 70's, he headed a very popular Cleveland band, The Brennan-Cosma Band, which played a variety of acoustic and rock music, along with originals. He also took up classicalguitar, and began developing his fingerstyle technique.

Mark is a graduate of Cleveland State University (1980), with a Bachelor of Music in Classical guitar performance. He also studied Music Composition, and took many Music Education classes. After graduation, he began his private teaching career, teaching electric, acoustic, and classical guitar, along with music theory. He taught in various studios and guitar shops throughout his career, and currently has a private practice at his home in Fairview Park, Ohio.

In the 80's Mark took an affection to Progressive rock. With his band Polyphony, he was influenced by the music of Yes, Genesis, Kansas, ELP, Styx, along with a set of prog rock originals.

Currently, Mark is in the regionally successful Pink Floyd tribute band Wish You Were Here. The band performs faithful renderings of the Floyd classics spanning their entire catalog, along with a strong visual stage show. Here, Mark displays his command of the David Gilmour style.

Mark is excited to be part of's fine roster of teachers. He's looking forward to extending his 35 years of performing and teaching experience to the JamPlay members. His philosophy is about developing a passion for guitar and being the best musician you can be; being true to yourself and developing a personal style, and truly expressing your heart through your music.

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