“Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” is among the most memorable songs from one of the most iconic roots-rock bands in the ’60s, Creedence Clearwater Revival.
It was released as a single off the band’s 1970 album, Pendulum, and it quickly hit different charts. The song charted highest in Canada, reaching No. 1 on the RPM 100 national singles chart while peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.
But did you know there has been a lot of speculation surrounding the song’s meaning?
The Real Meaning Behind “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”
Written by Creedence Clearwater Revival’s lead vocalist John Fogerty, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” was rumored to be a song about the Vietnam War with the “rain” being a metaphor for bombs falling from the sky.
In Mark Deming’s review for the Allmusic website, on the other hand, he suggested that the song refers to the 1960s’ idealism and how it faded in the wake of events like the Altamont Free Concert and the Kent State shootings. Deming’s believed that Fogerty is saying that the same issues of the 1960s still exist in the 1970s; however, the people have stopped fighting for them.
But Fogerty himself has stated in interviews and even before playing “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” during concerts that the song is about the rising tension within Creedence Clearwater Revival and the impending departure of his brother Tom Fogerty from the band.
“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 his 1993 interview. “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.'”
Tom famously left the group in 1971 after the recording of Pendulum. The remaining members considered replacing him but ultimately continued as a trio. However, over a year later, the band officially announced its disbanding, and they never formally reunited after the breakup.
Much later, Fogerty told a crowd during a 2012 concert in Arizona that “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” – once bearing great emotional yearning and sorrow – had completely changed in meaning.
“It started out as a sad song many years ago,” Fogerty said. “It was about a sad occasion in my life, but I refuse to be sad now. These days, it’s a very happy song because it reminds me of my beautiful, little baby girl, Kelsy, and that is the truth.”
“Kelsy rules my world,” he added. “And she knows it. Anyway, Kelsy is a rainbow in my life, and this song has a rainbow in it.”
Regardless of the song’s original meaning, “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?” has been covered by artists far and wide – including Johnny Cash, and a duet version by Willie Nelson and daughter Paula Nelson, among others.
“Someone told me long ago. There’s a calm before the storm. I know it’s been comin’ for some time. When it’s over, so they say it’ll rain a sunny day. I know shinin’ down like water,” the song begins, which is still meaningful to audiences today who may be hearing it for the very first time.
Tune in below and watch Creedence Clearwater Revival’s remarkable performance of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain?”
Creedence Clearwater Revival