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‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’: Creedence’s Poignant Late-Period Classic

‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ was one of the last great Creedence Clearwater Revival songs, as underlined by the dozens of cover versions, from Johnny Cash to Rod Stewart.

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Creedence Clearwater Revival Have You Ever Seen The Rain

Another classic Creedence Clearwater Revival single started its journey into the public’s hearts on the Billboard Hot 100 for the week of January 30, 1971. That was the chart that contained the debut of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,“ released as a 45 from the album Pendulum. It’s a song that has only grown in stature as the passing decades burnish the group’s remarkable legacy – and it tells its own private but poignant tale of their impending fracture.

CCR had been one of the top names in rock for well over two years by the time of the release, with seven Top 10 singles and seven million-sellers to their name and a major international presence. The bloom may have been off the rose by now in terms of frontman and songwriter John Fogerty’s feelings towards the band, but the hits kept coming – if not for that much longer. His brother Tom left the band just after the release of “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” which duly gave the remaining members an eighth US million-selling single. But there would be only one more, in “Sweet Hitch-Hiker.”

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In his autobiography Fortunate Son, John Fogerty didn’t mince words about his frustration at the time he wrote the 1971 hit. “‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ is about the breakup of the band,” he confided. “I was feeling, ‘Man, we achieved all our dreams. And you guys are only talking about negative stuff.’ By your own volition, you bring in a huge rain cloud and cause it to rain. On your own perfect dream. That’s the way I saw it. I was watching the band disintegrate right in front of my eyes.”

Triple platinum by 2020

Pendulum reached No.5 in the US, its success propelled in no small measure by this new single. “Rain” jumped onto the US chart, with its B-side “Hey Tonight” also listed, at No.56, in the same week as the Jackson 5’s “Mama’s Pearl” and as Dawn’s pop tune “Knock Three Times” continued at No.1. The Creedence single peaked at No.8, in March, and hit No.36 in the UK. It went gold within a few weeks of release, and in December 2020, the RIAA increased its certification to a lofty triple platinum.

The Cash Box trade review of the single at the time heard a new direction for Creedence. “Showing their first major change since establishing themselves on the rock front,” wrote the magazine, ”Creedence Clearwater slows and  softens their sound in this single from the Pendulum monster. While ‘Have You Ever Seen The Rain’ comes as close to a ballad as anything from CCR, the flip features their unique power to turn this into a two-sided giant.”

In the summer of 1971, the band started their first American tour as a trio, and then in September, their second European itinerary began in Holland. The glory days of CCR were coming towards an end, but “Have You Ever Seen The Rain” stands as one of their last great songs, as underlined by dozens of cover versions, from Johnny Cash to Joan Jett and from Rod Stewart to the Ramones. Not to mention its repeat rotation in practically every bar, shop and playlist across many decades,

Happily, Fogerty came to think of the song in a much more positive light in later years. Introducing it to a crowd at a 2012 show, he said: “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.” The following year, he teamed up with country superstar Alan Jackson to cut a new version for John’s all-star Wrote A Song For Everyone album.

“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” is on the Pendulum album, which can be bought here.

Follow the official Ultimate CCR Playlist.

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6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Lanu

    February 3, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Awesome group

    • Gary

      February 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Yes love them since hi school now 51yrs seen John Fogerty in Nov and seen Creadance clear water revisited 2x lead siger was great ban has original drummer and bass player

  2. Al

    February 4, 2015 at 2:29 am

    It the first song I learned on guitar. I’ve loved this song ever since the first time I heard it. Never did get the whole story of why Fogerty had a problem with the band and his brother.

    • darko klicek

      February 5, 2015 at 7:59 pm

      al,the only reason there was trouble was because john wrote and organized all music and the other band wanted to get the same recognition as john. cheers

  3. Chimi

    February 4, 2015 at 3:04 am

    Just love them, remember singing cotton fields in my school concert -)

  4. darko

    July 6, 2016 at 8:56 pm

    Love creedence first record i bought was Green River,love John he’s magic. Cheers

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