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Behind the Song: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”

Behind the Song: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

Behind The Song: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”

The lyrics are opaque, aren’t they? One can interpret them any way one wants. I have occasionally wondered about what John Fogerty was singing about myself. What does he mean when he sings about rain coming down on a sunny day?

Well, a meteorological phenomenon of a rain shower can and does occur on a reportedly sunny day. Who hasn’t witnessed a sudden downpour on a beautiful, sunshine-filled day that comes from nowhere? Some dark clouds that nobody saw coming suddenly announce themselves, rumble through, and let loose, and, just as quickly as they appear, the rain shower is over in a very short time; the sun comes out, and lo and behold, there’s a beautiful rainbow. Is this what John Fogerty sings about? Why write a song about a sun shower? Seems silly as the subject matter of a piece.

No, there has to be some deeper meaning. When this song came out as a radio single, it was 1971. The Vietnam War was still raging. Some people speculated that the rain on a sunny day was napalm bombs raining down the jungles and Vietnamese villages. Plausible. There was still a lot of anti-war sentiment circulating at the time.

Others speculated that at the end of the 1960s, in the wake of the Martin Luther King and Senator Kennedy assassinations, the ongoing war in Vietnam, Altamont, the Manson murders, the rise of radicalism in the counterculture, the constant nuclear arms race, the specter of thermonuclear war and Cold War tensions that the rain on a sunny day was about the death of youth and 1960s idealism, the deluge of disillusionment, drug casualties, dead rock stars (Joplin, Hendrix, Morrison, Jones) and burn out. Plausible.

The early 70s was a hangover of the 60s. This could be the calm before the storm that John sings about. And then the Apocalypse, the mushroom clouds of thermonuclear war. There was this pervasive feeling in the air that the world could go up in flames like a rainshower appearing out of nowhere, and everybody was biding their time helplessly waiting for the end times. After all, Bob Dylan used rain as a metaphor for the Apocalypse/ End Times/Judgement Day themes in his song, A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall. Again, it’s all plausible.

However, if you go to the source, John Fogerty, who wrote it, says that the lyrics are about tensions within the band Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Here he was writing this string of hit songs that got the band maximum exposure, like television appearances, an appearance at the big counterculture event of the decade, Woodstock, singles and albums selling like mad, concerts and tours being sell-outs, the radio airwaves saturated with their songs, the band enjoying commercial success beyond their wildest imaginings. He looks around and sees a lot of grumpy and depressed expressions on the faces of his bandmates.

Band members are resenting John for becoming the self-appointed de facto leader. After all, he was writing all the material that got them in the spotlight and famous. This was the song’s sunny day, and CCR enjoyed phenomenal success.

The others believed they should have some input in the band’s music, business decisions, and artistic direction. John was power-tripping and egoistically dictatorial in having all the power and the say just because he wrote all the hit songs. He also needed to make better business decisions. Stu Cook had a business degree and butted heads with John Fogerty for signing the worst record deal ever with label Fantasy Records.

His bandmates started feeling like CCR was a John Fogerty solo career, and they were supporting sidemen. This was the cause of the discord that was bubbling under the surface, even during CCR’s peak success. The consuming public didn’t know anything about it at the time. This was the rain coming down on a sunny day, as John alluded to in the lyrics.

The first sign the public ever got of trouble within the band was when John’s elder brother, Tom Fogerty, quit in early 1971 in disgust. The others considered replacing him, but the band ended up continuing without him as a trio.

Bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford wanted CCR to be a democracy. John said, okay, put your money where your mouth is. He insisted that if they wanted equality, they had to write and perform their songs, meaning they had to do the arranging and sing them, too. He, John, would take a back seat and only contribute rhythm guitar to their songs. Stu and Doug didn’t like this idea, and they resisted it, but John stood his ground with threats that if it weren’t this way, he’d quit the band; if you want equality, then put up or shut up.

So, by the time Have You Ever Seen The Rain was recorded, this was the backdrop to its creation, Tom leaving the band and group dispute with the remaining members.

As it turned out, this democratic dynamic didn’t last. The band’s last album. Mardi Gras, which came out in April of 1972 and was recorded in 1971 after Tom Fogerty left, included songs by Stu Cook and Doug Clifford. It was the band’s weakest output thus far, only yielding one hit single, a John Fogerty composition, Sweet Hitchhiker. The bulk of the album was Cook’s and Clifford’s. Critics thought much of their material could have been more forgettable. After that, the band just imploded. The critic for Rolling Stone magazine, Jon Landau, called Mardi Gras Fogerty’s Revenge. John himself dismisses it as horse manure. He’d proven his point.

What is the meaning behind Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” is a song by the American rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR), written by band member John Fogerty. The song was released in 1971 as a single and is also part of the band’s album “Pendulum.” The meaning behind the song has been the subject of various interpretations.

John Fogerty, the songwriter, has stated that the song was inspired by the tensions and conflicts within CCR at the time. The band was experiencing internal strife, and Fogerty’s brother Tom had recently left the group. The lyrics of the song convey a sense of disillusionment and questioning, with references to a metaphorical “rain” that could represent hardships, challenges, or difficult times.

Some listeners interpret the song as a commentary on the political and social climate of the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the “rain” symbolizing the turmoil and uncertainty of the era. Others see it as a reflection on personal struggles and the search for meaning in difficult circumstances.

Ultimately, the meaning of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” can be subjective, and listeners may connect with the song in different ways based on their own experiences and perspectives. The beauty of the song lies in its evocative lyrics and emotional resonance, which allows for a range of interpretations.

Is the song Have You Ever Seen the Rain about Vietnam?

While the song “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) was released during the Vietnam War era, and John Fogerty, the songwriter, was influenced by the social and political climate of that time, the specific meaning of the song is not exclusively about the Vietnam War. Fogerty has mentioned that the song was more broadly inspired by the internal conflicts within the band, including the departure of his brother Tom Fogerty.

However, given the timing of its release and the general atmosphere of the 1960s and early 1970s, listeners have interpreted the lyrics in various ways, including as a reflection of the disillusionment and questioning prevalent during the Vietnam War era. The metaphorical “rain” in the song could be seen as symbolizing the hardships and challenges of that time, both on a personal and societal level. The beauty of the song lies in its versatility, allowing listeners to find their own meanings and connections based on their interpretations and experiences.

What is the meaning of Creedence Clearwater Revival?

The name “Creedence Clearwater Revival” (CCR) was chosen by the band’s lead vocalist, guitarist, and primary songwriter, John Fogerty. The name does not have a specific deep meaning or connection to the band’s music or themes.

John Fogerty has mentioned in interviews that the name was derived from three different sources:

  1. “Creedence” came from a friend of the band, Credence Newball, whose name was misspelled on a friend’s list of local musicians.
  2. “Clearwater” was inspired by a beer commercial for Olympia beer, which featured a clear water revival.
  3. “Revival” was added by the band to create a more distinctive and unique name.

In essence, the name “Creedence Clearwater Revival” was a combination of these elements, and Fogerty liked the way it sounded. It became the iconic name for one of the most successful and influential rock bands of the late 1960s and early 1970s. While the name itself may not have a profound meaning, it has become synonymous with CCR’s distinctive sound and their memorable contributions to rock music.

What is the hidden message given by the rain?

The song “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” by Creedence Clearwater Revival does not have a specific hidden message in the rain itself. The lyrics of the song have been interpreted in various ways, but the rain is often considered a metaphor for hardships, challenges, or difficult times. The song expresses a sense of questioning and disillusionment, and the rain may symbolize the struggles or obstacles that individuals face in their lives.

It’s important to note that the interpretation of the song is subjective, and listeners may connect with it in different ways based on their own experiences and perspectives. The beauty of the song lies in its evocative lyrics and emotional resonance, allowing for a range of interpretations. While the rain serves as a metaphor, the specific meaning may vary from person to person.

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

Many thought it referenced the Vietnam War and the turbulent times of the late ’60s into the ’70s.

Band songwriter member John said it best.

But it was more about Tom Fogerty leaving the band and the tensions in the bar at the time.. they would split up not soon after.

Despite unbelievable success, wealth, and fame, they were depressed. The band had many tensions despite what should have been the best of times.

What do the “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” lyrics from Creedence Clearwater Revival mean?

Thankfully, much has been written about the song, and even better, John Fogerty is on record discussing the music in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1993. Here is what he had to say ;

“That song is really about the impending breakup of Creedence. The imagery shows you can have a bright, beautiful, sunny day, which can rain simultaneously. The band was breaking up. I was reacting: ‘Geez, this is all getting serious right at the time when we should be having a sunny day.'” (1)

Myself I cannot say it better. There you have the answer to your question. Hoping this helps.

What do “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” lyrics from Creedence Clearwater Revival mean?

Fogarty says this is out of tension in the band, not about the war or 60s idealism. CCR was hugely popular and on top of the world. But they were miserable as a band. Internal conflicts were eating them up. A year after the song was released, they broke up.

So, the rain on a sunny day is their conflict while being wildly successful. Reading the lyrics in the light sheds the meaning.

Until I read the interview, I thought it was about all the shit that had gone down in previous years. Kent State. Chicago. The War. The general unrest of the 60s.

It’s like For What It’s Worth. It’s not a war song. But people made it one.

Is Creedence Clearwater Revival a good band?

Creedence Clearwater Revival is my favorite band. There was never another band like them in history, not even the Beatles.

When people think of CCR, they usually think of FM or AM top 40 radio. Maybe a string of hits, or they feel about Fogerty and Centerfield.

Never is CCR talked about next to acts like Bob Dylan or John Lennon. Neil Young. I put CCR up at the top of the list regarding musical arrangements and songwriting.

These are why CCR is a fantastic band that is often overlooked.

1.) Songwriting

One aspect that made John Fogerty a great musician was his ability to write great songs.

John Fogerty was a factory, a hit-making machine. He just knew what it took to make one. He had a formula almost of another world outside his upbringing.

Very few people know that CCR was a San Francisco band alongside the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. From 1968–1970, John had been the primary songwriter on six albums.

Today, in the music industry, who writes six albums in less than two years? In those two years, he wrote their entire Greatest Hits albums. Not even the Beatles or Stones can say that.

1.) Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968)

2.) Bayou Country (1969)

3.) Green River (1969)

4.) Willie & The Poor Boys (1969)

5.) Cosmos’s Factory (1970)

6.) Pendulum (1970)

7.) Mardi Gras (1972)

Consider that in 20 months, John had written 22 of the top 20 songs. Consider that he was only 22 years old at the time. Every album you listen to is like a Greatest Hits album. They outsold the Beatles, competing against “Abbey Road” in 1969. Yet not one of their songs has ever reached #1. They hold the record for most #2 songs by any band. Some speculate that politics is involved.

He was able to transform himself into another personality from the swamp land. The hippies from San Francisco quickly turned into a southern rock band from Louisiana. It was as if John could channel the blues musicians he was inspired by, and I believe some people have that gift. That would be equivalent if Lynyrd Skynyrd or Allman Brothers were from NYC. A lot of people assumed CCR was a Southern band.

Green River barefoot girls in the swamp land. Proud Mary is rolling on the river. Bad Moon Rising Down Yonder. Down On The Corner, you can hear the jug band play. We’re Going Up Around The Bend. You wonder how he came up with lyrics to this music. You have to have the ability to connect with people, and I feel John was a master at doing that.

Yet he was incredible at writing songs that every American felt at that time and could relate to. He could make you feel sad and lonesome with Wrote A Song For Everyone or Have You Ever Seen The Rain. He could make you feel anger and injustice with songs like Fortunate Son and Run Through The Jungle. He could make you reflect on life with Someday Never Comes and Who’ll Stop The Rain.

2.) Fogerty’s Guitar Skills

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

This is one of the most underrated aspects of the band. All the members were no slouch in the musical department, but I would put John Fogerty and his Rickenbacker next to Page and Clapton. (my opinion)

When people think of amazing guitarists, they never really think of John Fogerty. If you were not an adult from 1968–1972, you never saw CCR live.

CCR was terrific in the studio, but they took it to an entirely different level on the stage. One thing they could not do on a single occasion was extend jams. Most people listen to their singles rather than their albums. Watch their Woodstock performance on YouTube and listen to the gritty tone John was able to produce.

Only some guitarists have a distinct sound. You can tell a Fogerty riff the second you hear it. Put on headphones and listen to the album versions of I Heard It Through The Grapevine, Ramble TambleBorn On The BayouKeep On Chooglin’Suzie Q, and I Put A Spell On You.

John’s technical ability was very unique. He was able to make jams that sounded unlike Hendrix or Beck. He was not an imitator, and many people overlook this about the tonal sound and arrangements he could come up with. I think John and his brother Tom shined, bouncing back and forth with each other.

His gear was relatively simple. It was a Rick 325 and a solid-state Kustom K200 out of a Sears catalog. Many people say John was the only guy who could make a Kustom amp sound good. However, his Rickenbacker was heavily modified. It featured Gibson PAF bridge pickups that are no longer made and a Bigsby whammy bar. He also used a Fender Vibrolux tube amp.

In 2019, you can still see him in concert and really see his abilities shine.

3.) Vocals

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

One of the absolute highlights of CCR was John’s ability to belt out his vocal chords. He had such a powerful way of singing with incredible emotion.

Every song he could scream through to emulate his favorite blues and soul singers. One of his most significant influences was Little Richard.

Some people have that distinct voice you know within two seconds of hearing, which is almost impossible to copy. John Lennon is another excellent example. Robert Plant, Neil Young, Carl Wilson, Karen Carpenter, Sinatra, and Janis Joplin are more vocalists I would put in that category that very few make it into.

I think Fogerty, similar to Lennon, had a way of producing a sound that was almost impossible to replicate. He attributed it to being a heavy chain smoker in those days, so his voice was naturally raspy. People often ask, is that band white? Blue-eyed Soul swept the nation, and CCR played no small role in crossing racial barriers with the microphone.

4.) Musical Arrangement

This is the fourth aspect many people take for granted today, but when CCR was recording their music, they were not recording to a laptop.

In those days, tape was expensive, and John Fogerty was notoriously a minimalist. He was perhaps the opposite of the Rolling Stones or Grateful Read, where they would keep a tape machine rolling for the entire day and see what long jams they could capture under the influence of maybe a little LSD.

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

John was known for making the band rehearse 40 or 50 times before he pressed the record button. He was an absolute perfectionist. It had to be a perfect take, or he would make the band do it again. He was known for making the band stay until the next day until they got a drum sound correct or bass in time.

People called him difficult, but look at the results; it speaks for itself. You know a CCR song is on the radio within the first two seconds it begins. That’s hard to master. That was John’s genius. Not many bands can say that.

John was also known to edit their tracks tremendously after they had been recorded. Not in the sense we do today, but if he heard drums in the wrong place or didn’t like the keyboard, he would slice them on tape to correct timing. Yet he could do this, even though they were working on a deadline of 3 albums a year.

So John was involved in the studio, very much a music producer himself. Everything in a CCR song, although it may sound simple, was extremely complicated to produce. John knew exactly where he wanted the chords to chime at each time mark, and he knew what EQ level to tune his instruments. He knew what channel each device had to be on. The Beach Boys were involved like this, but not many bands were this temperamental or engaged in the studio. I would call Fogerty the “Brian Wilson” of swamp rock.

My Conclusion:

As creative tensions in the band grew, they broke off, but it is a shame the peak of their career only lasted two years. That’s a concise window, but the material we were left with in such a short time is miraculous. It would be the equivalent of the Beatles breaking up after Hard Day’s Night. I find that incredible.

Imagine if CCR lasted an entire decade. They were born at the right time for their music. Their songs have come to represent a whole generation. John knew how to write and produce a simple piece lasting 1,000 years. He had an unbelievable ear for making music. I put John right next to the great songwriters.

I want people to know this band was more than a Top 40 radio-friendly ensemble with a string of two-minute hits. They were the pioneers of southern rock or swamp rock, and yet they were not even southern or gravel in the traditional sense. Putting them into a category is complex, and the best bands always are. I think time has treated them well, and we can appreciate them more today than we did back then.

Putting the drama and politics aside, you will find that CCR was just a great band that has become a piece of American history. I recommend that everyone move beyond their Greatest Hits and listen to their albums.

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

Is Creedence Clearwater Revival a good band?

I grew up in Mexico then, and they were at the peak of their popularity. Let me tell you that they were the only real competition that the Beatles had (with the Stones at times). Everybody was a Beatles fan until ‘Creedence’ (as they were called in Mexico) came onto the scene.

The Mexican working classes liked a more raw sound in their rock music (that is why the Stones were famous among them, too), and they moved to Creedence while the middle and upper classes stayed with the Beatles. Considering how large the working class is in Mexico, Creedence was enormously popular, and the only reason they did not obliterate the Beatles was because the female working-class girls (and some men) stayed loyal to them.

So, ask any working-class Mexican of a certain age if ‘Creedence’ was good.

If I had the time, I could classify which bands were popular in Mexico according to social class, e.g.:

Working class: Creedence, Grandfunk, Stones

Middle and upper class: Moody Blues, Dave Clark Five, Beach Boys

The Doors were popular among all Mexican men due to the line: “Father, I want to kill you. Mother, I want to…………….” 😀

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

Is Creedence Clearwater Revival a good band?

One of the best in American rock history.

If I were to rank the top few American bands of the second rock era, I would have to include:

  • Beach Boys
  • The Band
  • Bob Dylan
  • Neil Young
  • Jefferson Airplane
  • CCR
  • The Byrds

CCR, Dylan, and The Beach Boys have had the most significant cultural and musical impact on this group.

The most extensive critique of CCR is that it was a vehicle for John Fogerty rather than a band of equals. This is true, but Fogerty was a world-class songwriter, singer, and groundbreaking guitarist.

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

Why is Creedence Clearwater Revival so hated now?

I wasn’t aware that they were. Some people dislike John Fogerty personally, but they may not understand the specifics of why he feels the way he does.

As for CCR itself, it is one of the great uniquely American bands of all time. They broke up before I was born, but their music is timeless. Anyone who hates them because they may not like the lead singer’s personality must get a life.

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

Why is Creedence Clearwater Revival so hated now?

Uhh… what?

I have been walking this planet for 62 years, and I’ve never met someone who didn’t like Creedence, let alone “hated them.” Every album they recorded (seven, if IIRC, I only have four) had at least three or four timeless hits on each. Only a few bands pull that feat off. Especially these days!

Shit, I think I’m going to spin Cosmo’s Factory right now while I contemplate this fantastic statement of yours.

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

Why is Creedence Clearwater Revival so hated now?

Is this a troll question? Are you looking to pile up Quora hits?

I’ll answer anyway.

Listen to any classic bar band; a couple of CCR songs will be on the setlist.

Listen to any classic radio station; a couple of CCR songs will be on the setlist.

Go to a John Fogerty concert; there’ll be more than a few CCR songs on the setlist. (in fact, in the mid-80s, when Fogerty started touring as a solo artist, folk pleaded with him to add CCR songs to his performances.)

I wish my music were that hated

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

What makes ‘Fortunate Son’ from Creedence Clearwater Revival such a powerful song even when you hear it today?

It’s a great classic rock song with a straightforward social message. Its Southern rock style was influenced by the blues and had a propulsive beat and tremendous use of electric guitars. And its lyrics are angry and powerful. Just listen to it again:

John Fogerty wrote “Fortunate Son” in the context of the Vietnam War when working-class and middle-class sons were sent to fight and die while the sons of the rich and powerful avoided it. It is an antiwar song and taps into the class system that holds such power over our country.

Fogerty had been in the Army reserves during the Vietnam War, which he opposed. He came back and started Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Fogerty does a great job explaining his ideal and inspiration for “Fortunate Son” in this video:

So where are we now, and why is “Fortunate Son” still powerful?

Donald Trump is president after getting multiple draft deferments to avoid the Vietnam War for trumped-up reasons. Our armed forces are still composed of working-class people, not the rich. Wealth inequality is higher than ever. The Senate just rammed through the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, a fortunate son who has been bred and coached all his life to protect the privileges of the 1%.

So, yeah. “Fortunate Son” still has power. Check out this fantastic ad that came out before the 2018 midterms and uses the song. Get inspired and go vote!

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

What is your opinion of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s song “Fortunate Son” (1969)?

I was nine years old when the single “Down on the Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival came out. Singles were 99 cents, and I bought each new CCR release with tremendous anticipation. I wanted to BE John Fogerty. It would be decades before computers and google, so you needed help understanding more of what John Fogerty was saying, but he sounded incredible: honest, committed, and kick-ass.

Cosmo’s Factory was the first album I ever bought, and I still consider that to have been a fantastic choice and one that stands up over scrutiny across the years. So, yeah, I bought Down on the Corner. After about the thousandth listen, I felt the first clue that maybe I was ready for a different sound. I turned the single over to hear the shitty and disappointing song on the other side, the usual reaction to almost every B-side by nearly every artist.

Even to a 9-year-old – the thundering drums, the bass holding down that single note, the searing electric guitar riff that follows, the mighty snare fill and then the razor voice of John Fogerty, with no warm-up, no warning, no hello, what’s your name?… just that shout from the conscience of the marginalized and underrepresented, “Some folks are born, made to wave the flag, ooh they’re red, white and blue…”

It would be over a decade before I began to appreciate Fogerty’s incendiary condemnation of empty and hollow, knee-jerk patriotism. But I just turned 60, and this song still delivers in spades. It’s John Fogerty at his best, and his standard is incredibly high. It’s rock and roll at its best. Every great rock and roll writer would love to have written this song, and every great rock singer would kill it in concert.

What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival about?

Is Creedence Clearwater Revival overrated? Why?

Certainly not.

The one legitimate criticism of CCR is that it was essentially a vehicle for John Fogerty – he wrote the songs, sang them, and played the lead guitar parts.

Otherwise, CCR is as close to a perfect representation of American rock and roll as any band. They synthesized swamp rock, country, pop, and psychedelia and gave it a touch of California cool. Creedence’s songs were quite transparent, unlike their brilliant peers, like the Jefferson Airplane, the Grateful Dead, and even the Beach Boys. And they were mainly about something relatable.

Surprisingly, CCR succeeded on the pop charts as well as they did. The arrangements are much more challenging than they seem at first. Getting a John Fogerty lead guitar part to sound good takes a lot of work, and even Tom Fogerty’s rhythm vamps are challenging. You can fake an Animals or Stones song. Not so Creedence.

I see CCR as one of the most influential rock acts of all time – in the company of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, The Kinks, The Who, and Janis Joplin. Maybe not Elvis or The Beatles, but not far.

Behind The Song: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”

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