Oftentimes a band’s most successful song pushes the band to achieve more greatness and fame. However, it was not meant to be for the American roots rock band Creedence Clearwater Revival. Their biggest and most enduring hit “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” comes at a time of the band’s highest success and also the lowest trough among its members.
History of Creedence Clearwater Revival
Creedence Clearwater Revival formed in the early 1960s as a high-school covers band led by John Fogerty’s brother, Tom. The band solidified their place in the rock arena throughout the late 60’s and early 70’s through constant touring and a string of top-selling singles, including “Bad Moon Rising,” “Looking Out My Back Door,” “Who’ll Stop the Rain,” and “Fortunate Son,” briefly outselling the Beatles. For a short while CCR was the biggest rock band in America, producing five albums in just three years, but on their sixth album, 1970’s ‘Pendulum,’ the band began to fall apart. Why?
“Throughout the recording of ‘Pendulum,’ John worked the band hard, dismissing ideas and performances that he felt weren’t worthy of the group’s name, resulting in an album entirely written and produced by Fogerty.” (Source: Christopher Mark)
What is “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” About?
Through the autocracy created within Creedence Clearwater Revival towards their ‘Pendulum’ album, the band members were extremely frustrated with the band. It often led to tense situations within the band and John knew the band was not going to glue together long. In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine in 1993, John told; “That song is really about the impending breakup of Creedence. The imagery is, you can have a bright, beautiful, sunny day and it can be raining at the same time. 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.’”
After their 6th album ‘Mardi Gras,’ released in April 1972, the band broke up.
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s best-selling singles to-date. The song reached #1 in Canada and #8 in Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US in its year of release in 1971. RIAA rated the song 2x Platinum for over 2 million units sold in November 2018.
Even after three decades, the song is still a mood-lifter in most restaurants and bars and concerts to-date.
Watch “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” Video by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Lyrics Review and Song Meaning of “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?”
John Fogerty wrote the lyrics to this song and he starts off the song by alluding to an age-old quote: “there’s a calm before a storm.” He knows that his bandmates are extremely frustrated with the way things are going, but oftentimes they keep it bottled to finish up ‘Pendulum’ album. John knows that it is only a matter of time before it all explodes and blows apart.
A ‘Sunny day’ is a metaphor for all good things. Sun gives life and stands for illumination of the world. ‘Rain’ in literature is often used to express the opposite of the Sun. It signifies gloom, dark and sorrow in life.
By the 1970s, Creedence Clearwater Revival was among the highest-selling and most famous bands out there. Their sunniest of days. But this impending fall out of the members hinted of ‘rain’ on these sunny days of the band.
In this world-famous chorus, John Fogerty asks the audience if they have been in a similar situation.
In nature, raining on a sunny day produces a rainbow afterward. It could have been the case for CCR as well, had they resolved their issues after these troubled times. However, it was not meant to be.
John has extensively talked about his depression in dealing with the fall out of the band as well; “It was getting worse, more and more depressed, and further away from the center of John Fogerty. I could play but I didn’t know what to play. … A blind man in a fog, just flitting around.”
John Fogerty further elaborates on the situation at hand. He says that he has noticed the Sun getting cold and rain getting harder. These are signs of impending doom. Since he says “I know, been that way for all my time,” this could also be a reflection on his mind on depression. He might be seeing things going bad to worse than they actually are.
John says that when things get bad, it will continue to be bad forever. Even though his mental state is under depression, there are no ups and downs to it. There are just fast and slow downs only.
The singer also admits that he has no clue how to stop it. This may allude to the tension within the band and his mental state.
This song is really a sad revelation of events for the band, John and anyone else under depression.
Let us hear what you think about “Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” and what it means to you in the comments below.