The Creedence Clearwater Revival song about the band breaking up

Creedence Clearwater Revival leader John Fogerty has many classic tracks to his name, including the likes of ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘Fortunate Son’. However, in terms of emotional weight, there is none as piercing as ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’, a song from the band’s 1970 album Pendulum.

An anthemic piece of country rock underpinned by a tangible sense of melancholy, there’s no surprise that its essence has managed to touch so many and that it went to number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 when released. Fogerty’s motivations for writing the song were nothing but heartbreaking. Whilst there are many theories about what influenced him to write the song, Fogerty has maintained that the material is about the tension that grew in Creedence Clearwater Revival when they were at the peak of their success and the ensuing departure of his brother Tom, the band’s rhythm guitarist.

As Fogerty has explained, during this era, the band were commercially and critically successful; however, all four members were depressed. This inspired the song’s disposition and the famous central line, “I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain? Comin’ down on a sunny day”. Accordingly, the band broke up after the release of Mardi Gras in 1972. Ironically though, ‘Hey Tonight’, the B-side to ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’, was John Fogerty reassuring the band that everything would be alright for the group moving forward.

Notably, Tom Fogerty left Creedence Clearwater Revival in early 1971. His lack of songwriting opportunities and the building animosity with his brother was enough for him to depart after Pendulum was recorded. After he exited the group – which he had been in since 1959 – Fogerty embarked on a solo career and had minor hits such as ‘Goodbye Media Man’ and ‘Cast The First Stone’. He released three albums before he died in 1990, which included the Jerry Garcia-featuring Excalibur. A sixth album, Sidekicks, which was finished in 1988, was posthumously released in 1992.

“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,” John Fogerty reportedly told Rolling Stone in 1993 about the meaning of ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’. “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.’”

However, per the frontman’s admission, the song’s meaning has morphed over time. When introducing the track at a 2012 Arizona show, he explained: “This song was originally written about a very sad thing that was going on in my life. But I refuse to be sad now. Because now this song reminds me of my little girl, Kelsy, and every time I sing it, I think about Kelsy and rainbows.”

“Kelsy rules my world,” Fogerty added. “And she knows it. Anyway, Kelsy is a rainbow in my life, and this song has a rainbow in it.”

Listen to ‘Have You Ever Seen the Rain?’ below.

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