“Who’ll Stop the Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
The origins of the lyrics of “Who’ll Stop the Rain” are relatively diverse. That is to say that the symbolism and experiences recounted throughout are from a number of different sources. These sources include the Vietnam War, Woodstock and how its writer, John Fogerty, perceived some major political states, specifically Washington D.C. Thus the titular phrase itself can be interpreted in a couple of ways.
The three verses which comprise the song are set in different time previous if you will. And each of them deals with different subject matters.
In the first verse, the singer is commenting on the history of the world “through the ages”, which according to him featured “good men… trying to find the sun”. This is a direct result of the “clouds of mystery pouring confusion on the ground”. What these statements basically allude to is righteous men throughout history who took it upon themselves to try to improve the lot of mankind.
The second verse takes somewhat of an alternate approach on the same matter. However, this time it points to governments who initiative “five-year plans and new deals” in the name of helping their citizens. This is respectively a reference to the USSR and United States. But this time around Fogerty is questioning the overall effectiveness of these entities. He asks afterwards “who will stop the rain”. By asking this question, he is insinuating that they are unable to. And in both the first and second verses we can see that the titular “rain” is a metaphor for various issues plaguing mankind.
Is “Who’ll Stop the Rain” against the Vietnam War?
The second verse is also notable because it features what appears to be the song’s only direct reference to the Vietnam War. Many people recognize “Who’ll Stop the Rain” as a protests song against that conflict, when in actuality it is not. However, at the beginning of this section, when Fogerty sings of going “down Virginia, seeking shelter from the storm”, “the storm” would actually be a metaphor for the Vietnam War. And in reality he avoided being deployed to Vietnam despite being drafted in 1966 by instead being assigned to the Army Reserve. And one of the stations he found himself at was Fort Lee in Virginia. So simply put, Fogerty was able to avoid physically fighting in the war by instead somehow finding himself assigned to a home base as a backup soldier.
Meanwhile the third verse is actually based on a rainy day John Fogerty spent at Woodstock back in 1969. This time “the rain” is actual literal, as on that particular day, he had a memorable experience. He watched in amazement as during the downpour, the numerous concertgoers (some of them nude) refused to desert the venue. In fact it was directly after this particular event in which he penned this song.
So we can see that there are a couple of diverse topics covered on this track. If we were forced to derive a primary theme from it, it would likely be something along the lines of it serving as a commentary about the overall ineffectiveness of being able to “stop the rain”. “The rain” once again is a general symbol of persistent problems human beings face collectively. However, near the end of the track, the lyrics take on a more lighthearted tone, recounting a memorable experience the singer was a part of during the classic Woodstock concert of 1969.
Writing Credits for “Who’ll Stop the Rain”
Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty both wrote and produced this song.
It came out on 25 July 1970 and was released by Fantasy Records as the lead single from the band’s album “Cosmo’s Factory”.
“Who’ll Stop the Rain” was released as a double-A sided single along with another track, “Travelin’ Band”. Together these two songs peaked at number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100.
“Cosmo’s Factory” also produced the following super famous singles:
A great, great song!
Rolling Stone placed “Who’ll Stop the Rain” at number 188 on their prestigious 2011 list of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”.
This song has been covered by a number of notable rockers, including Garth Brooks, Rod Stewart and Bruce Springsteen. The latter also performed it alongside Fogerty in 1993 when Creedence Clearwater Revival made it into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
This track also made its way into a number of movies, including one in 1978 film starring Nick Nolte originally entitled “Dog Soldiers”. Yet when the producers obtained permission to use this song, they changed the name to “Who’ll Stop the Rain” directly in reference to it.
“Who’ll Stop the Rain” has also been able to maintain its appearance in pop culture via it being featured in a number of commercials, much to the chagrin of John Fogerty. Fogerty lamented Fantasy Record’s, who has legal control of the song, indiscriminate licensing of the song.