The Meaning of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”
Swamp rockers Creedence Clearwater Revival are without question one of the most influential and iconic bands of the classic rock era. Perhaps their most enduring and often-discussed song is 1970’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”, which was written by lead vocalist and guitarist John Fogerty and released on their 1970 album Pendulum.
Many have speculated about the meaning of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain”, attributing it to the Vietnam War (like “Fortunate Son”) or other political causes, but the truth is that the song has a more personal meaning for Fogerty and the rest of CCR.
According to Fogerty, the song was actually written about the band’s internal conflict following their massive success, and the rift that was forming between himself and the rest of the band.
From the outside, in 1970 it looked as if Creedence were at the top of their game. 1969 saw the release of three hit albums and June 1970’s Cosmo Factory topped the rock charts for nine weeks, not to mention a headlining performance at Woodstock that people are still talking about today. However, by the time they were set to record material for Pendulum, tensions within the band were at an all-time high.
Apparently, the whole band was annoyed that John Fogerty wanted to maintain artistic control, while they all wanted more input. Fogerty insisted that having him in charge of things and as the main creative driver of the band has led to their success, who why would they change things up now?
This created a power struggle that had the the band on the brink of imploding, which Tom has spoken about many times in interviews over the years. Perhaps the conflict between brothers Tom and John Fogerty was the most intense, and Tom ended up leaving the band in January 1971, not long after the release of Pendulum.
CCR didn’t last long after Tom Fogerty left, with their 1972 album Mardi Gras being totally panned by critics. While it did contain the great song “Someday Never Comes”, the album was lacking in depth and on the whole is certainly their weakest. They had simply lost their spark, and started to hate each other. They called it quits shortly after the album’s release.
These were musicians who had played together since they were in middle school, first forming in 1959 as a cover band called The Blue Velvets. Later, in 1964 they changed their name to the Golliwog. Finally, in 1968 they started getting attention from major labels and decided to change their name one last time to the one that stuck: Creedence Clearwater Revival.
They imploded during a time that should have been bright and sunny, at the start of a long and successful career. Egos breaking up rock and roll bands is a story as old as time, though, and conflicting attitudes within the band brought down the rain on that bright and sunny day, hence Fogerty’s lyrics to “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”.
Someone told me long agoFirst verse to CCR’s “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”
There’s a calm before the storm
I know, it’s been coming for some time
When it’s over, so they say
It’ll rain a sunny day
I know, shining down like water
The song has had a lasting impact on the rock & roll landscape for over 50 years now, and is frequently in rotation even today on classic rock radio alongside dozens of other CCR songs. “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” has also been covered by many artists, including every bar band known to man plus notable names like Johnny Cash, Joan Jett, Rod Stewart, and many more.
It’s a beloved song from a beloved era, and it so beautifully describes the feeling of being down and out even when life’s circumstances should have you feeling happy and upbeat.
An official music video for “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” was released by the band’s organization in 2018 in celebration of their 50th anniversary. You can watch that video below.