Song of the Day: “Run Through the Jungle”

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Today in 1970, Creedence Clearwater Revival started a 9-week run at No. 1 on the U.S. album chart with their album “Cosmo’s Factory”. One of the singles that helped keep them there was our song of the day, “Run Through the Jungle”.

This week, we’ve been looking back over years of rock and roll history to find gems that stand the test of time. We pick them out according to date, polish them off, and present them back to the world to be remembered. So far this week, we’ve covered a good range of oldies hits. Monday, we looked at “Moonage Daydream” by David Bowie. Tuesday, we picked up another Beatles song by listening to “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. And yesterday, we moved on to The Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction”.

Creedence Clearwater Revival hit their peak of commercial success with “Cosmo’s Factory”. While the album deserves the praise it garnered, the numerous singles released with it carried most of the weight. One of their most successful ones was, “Run Through the Jungle”.

But before we get into the song itself, let’s first take a look at the album.

Cosmo’s Factory

“Cosmo’s Factory” was Creedence Clearwater Revival’s fifth studio album. The album’s title comes from drummer Doug “Cosmo” Clifford’s name for the recording space where John Fogerty made them practice nearly every day.

The commercial success of “Cosmo’s Factory” was in a large part due to the fact that the band stood out from the glut of trippy acid rock at the time. Their blend of blues and roots based rock might have given them a more down to earth and accessible vibe, capable of penetrating across demographics and social spheres. But of course, now we call that “mainstream”, and it’s generally viewed by critics as a bad thing.

The four singles released for the album contained two double A-side tracks, “Travelin’ Band”/”Who’ll Stop the Rain”, and “Up Around the Bend”/”Run Through the Jungle”. The other two singles released were “Lookin’ Out My Back Door”, and “I Heard It Through the Grapevine”.

Run Through the Jungle

Considering the time it was written, as well as the content of the lyrics, many people assume that “Run Through the Jungle” is a song explicitly about the Vietnam War. The truth, however, is that the gun-heavy jungle Fogerty was describing was closer to home than many might imagine.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, John Fogerty talks about the inspiration behind “Run Through the Jungle”.

“I remember reading around that time that there was one gun for every man, woman and child in America, which I found staggering. We’re talking about privately held guns. So somewhere in the song, I think I said, ‘200 million guns are loaded.’ I just thought it was disturbing that it was such a jungle for our citizens just to walk around in our own country at least having to be aware that there are so many private guns owned by some responsible and maybe many irresponsible people.”

Despite this, “Run Through the Jungle” has been used in movies like “Tropic Thunder” to depict the Vietnam War, as well as a number of video games. This may be where a good deal of the confusion comes from.

Final Thoughts

All that being said, it’s not impossible that “Run Through the Jungle” was about both gun control and the Vietnam War. Maybe the lyrical imagery was used in the song to draw comparisons between violence overseas and in America. Maybe what Fogerty was really trying to say was that because of lax gun control laws, America was little different from the war-torn jungles of Vietnam.

Well, that about covers it for today. We’ll leave you on that cheery note. I hope you enjoyed listening to “Run Through the Jungle”, and maybe learned a thing or two about the song while you did. We’ll be back tomorrow for one more song to wrap up the week.

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