Creedence Clearwater Revival

Who'll Stop the Rain?

Composed by John Fogerty

Song Review by

While Creedence Clearwater Revival is justly hailed as the ultimate roots rock band, and many of their songs were celebrations of Americana or all-out fun rock'n'rollers, they also made their share of thoughtful, serious songs that reflected social concerns of their era. "Who'll Stop the Rain" is unquestionably one of the best of these. It was, too, a pretty big hit, as part of a double-A-sided single with "Travelin' Band," though the fun-loving "Travelin' Band" was the more popular. "Travelin' Band" was also explicitly derivative of 1950s rock'n'roll, which "Who'll Stop the Rain" certainly wasn't, its melancholy melody and acoustic textures owing more to folk-rock. In the manner of many folk-rock songs, it starts with a ringing acoustic guitar riff, though the backing throughout is more in the manner of a road-tested roots rock band than that heard on more standard folk-rock recordings. "Who'll Stop the Rain" has sometimes been interpreted as a veiled protest against the Vietnam War, which in 1970 seemed like an endless quagmire of disaster. That it could be, with its fatalistic but slightly angry mood, and images (particularly in the title-chorus) of a rain that seems impossible to stop. But really, the words could be more universal in their images of mysteries and troubles that seem impossible to solve. This could be stretching it, but maybe the final verse, with its references to music, large crowds, rain, and crowds trying to keep warm, could be about the Woodstock Festival. It's sometimes forgotten because they didn't make the film or the original soundtrack, but Creedence did play there. The striking line about five-year plans and new deals wrapped in golden chains indicates a cynicism about political plans and promises in general. So it's an intriguing lyric, but to focus on that might be underselling the song's considerable musical charms. It has one of John Fogerty's most gentle melodies, yet a singable and memorable one that he invests with passion (particularly in the latter part of the verses), and one with yet another rousing, hooky, almost spiritual harmonized chorus. It's also sprinkled with nice touches like a moody chord progression in the instrumental break that appears nowhere else in the song; the way the harmonized chorus briefly becomes a cappella the last time it's sung; and the half-minute fadeout, reinforcing the central motif of a rain that goes on and on and on.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
No Image 196? Fantasy
Cosmo's Factory 1970 Concord / Fantasy / Universal 2:27
More Creedence Gold 1973 Fantasy 2:28
Chronicle, Vol. 1 1976 Fantasy 2:27
No Image 1982 Fantasy
Creedence Clearwater Revival [Time Life] 198? Fantasy 2:29
No Image 1990 Fantasy
The Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival [Fantasy Canada] 1998 Fantasy 2:27
Ultimate Collection 1998 Mushroom Records 2:27
Collection 1999 Fantasy 2:29
Keep on Chooglin' [Festival] 1999 Festival Records 2:29
At the Movies 1999 Fantasy 2:28
Creedence Clearwater Revival [Box Set] 2001 Fantasy 2:30
Best of Creedence Clearwater Revival [EMI] 2003 EMI Music Distribution 2:28
Platinum 2004 BMG International 2:28
Greatest Hits [2005] 2005 Rock 2:28
Absolute Originals 2006 APO (Analogue Production Originals) 2:29
Best Of 2008 Universal International 2:29
Collected 2008 Universal Distribution 2:27
Creedence Clearwater Revival [Collector's Tin] 2008 Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:30
40th Anniversary Editions Box Set 2009 Universal Distribution / Concord/Universal / Fantasy 2:27
Opus Collection 2009 Hear Music 2:28
The Singles Collection 2009 Concord / Fantasy 2:28
Ultimate Creedence Clearwater Revival: Greatest Hits & All-Time Classics 2012 Concord / Fantasy 2:27
No Image Phantom