Happy Monday LemonWire readers. It’s been a rainy weekend here in Indianapolis, and it doesn’t look to be ending anytime soon. To help you get through the long, soggy drives and thunderstorms, this week we’ll be looking at songs about the rain. Our song today is “Who’ll Stop The Rain”, released in 1970 by Creedance Clearwater Revival.
Some of the best songs that have ever been written drew their inspiration from mother nature’s tears. While many of them have shared a similar subject matter, not all incorporate the same symbolism. Some deal with feelings of sadness and grief. Others with relief and release. But all of them manage to convey in one way or another a refreshing feeling of catharsis by the time the last note fades.
Whether you’re feeling down from the gloomy weather recently, or hoping for a glimpse of sun on the horizon, we’ll be bringing the rainy day feels this week to ease the time along.
Creedance Clearwater Revival
You may recognize Creedance Clearwater Revival (also known as CCR) from one of their many classic rock hits. Or perhaps you only know them as “the Dude’s” favorite band from The Big Lebowski. Either way, you’re most likely aware of them.
As an American rock band in the late ’60s and early ’70s, CCR combined the styles of swamp, roots, and blues into their own brand of southern rock. While their songs typically contained lyrics about the geography of the southern United States, they also wrote about political and socially conscious topics such as the Vietnam War. Another highlight of their relatively short-lived career was playing the 1969 Woodstock festival in Upstate New York.
Who’ll Stop The Rain
“Who’ll Stop The Rain” was written by John Fogerty in 1970, just one year after the rain-filled weekend of Woodstock. After watching festival-goers participate in pointless rain chants like this one, Fogerty wrote the lyrics to “Who’ll Stop The Rain”, both as a recounting of the Woodstock festival, as well as a piece of commentary on the Vietnam War.
“Who’ll Stop The Rain” was released as a double-sided single along with “Travelin’ Band” in 1970. Both songs appeared on the album “Cosmo’s Factory” of the same year. The two singles were the first to hit the No. 2 spot on the Billboard Pop Singles chart for CCR. Over the years, the song has been covered by the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Rod Stewart, and appeared in dozens of movies and commercials.
The lyrics of “Who’ll Stop The Rain” can be divided into three distinct historical sections. The distant past, recent past, and present. While a literal interpretation is possible, the song also treats the rain as a metaphor for hard times and struggle.
The first verse sets up the metaphor of the rain, before cataloging its historical presence throughout human history.
“As long as I remember
The rain’s been comin’ down
Clouds of mystery pourin’
Confusion on the ground”
The historical presence of the rain isn’t touched on much more than the lines, “Good men through the ages” / Tryin’ to find the sun”.
In the following verses, Fogerty describes the ways that different groups have tried to “stop the rain”. The lines “I went down Virginia / Seekin’ shelter from the storm” could refer to crossing state lines to avoid the draft of the Vietnam War. While the reference to “Five year plans and new deals / Wrapped in golden chains”, allude to different governments’ attempts to bring their countries out of past defeats. Specifically, Stalin’s Five Year Plan and Roosevelt’s New Deal. But still, Fogerty suggests that none of these efforts could stop the rain.
The final verses refer to the 1969 Woodstock festival, which consisted of the community of hippies and “flower-power” touting activists.
“Heard the singers playin’
How we cheered for more
The crowd then rushed together
Tryin’ to keep warm”
Fogerty’s following lyrics, “Still the rain kept pourin'” suggest that his current generation was just as powerless to bring about change using their own methods.
If you read in between the lines, it seems that Fogerty is suggesting that none of humanity’s problems can be pushed off by the power of thought, money, or even love. It’s certainly a bleak view, but underneath it there’s also a glimmer of hope. Every yearning question of “Who’ll Stop The Rain” suggests that it should be possible. Still, it’s a song that reflects the time it was made in, characterized by a cynical attitude toward the government, as well as a hope for the future.
That about wraps up our discussion for today. I hope you enjoyed listening to the first of our rainy day songs this week. Although, even as I type this, I can see the skies clearing.
Come rain or shine, we’ll be back with another song for tomorrow.