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Sep 06

CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL – “Bad Moon Rising”

FT + Popular19 comments • 3,125 views

#276, 20th September 1969

One of rock’s jauntier doomsdays, a feeling solidified for me by its status of party fixture on my college bar jukebox. Jaunty doesn’t always mean friendly, though. Creedence keep things brisk, lean and simple, and there’s only a touch of wildness in John Fogerty’s voice. “Bad Moon Rising” has no patience for melodrama, and this cold matter-of-factness is its strength: Fogerty and his boys know what’s coming and sound ready for it – they’re just passing the word on to you, and leaving you to deal with it as you can.

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Comments

  1. 1
    Doctor Casino on 24 Sep 2006 #

    Ehhhh……. I hear what you’re saying, and I do dig its folksy apocalypse (“Hmm, my gitchy knee is acting up, reckon there’s trouble coming, young feller”) but it’s just never done all that much for me as a song. It plays well on houseboat parties, where you’re all just floating down the river and’t much care if the music is going anyplace either… but for a number one it seems weirdly without any moments of climax or shifts in the drama. The arrangement is too continuous, the texture turgid.

    Much prefer “Green River,” for its more distinctive guitar activity cutting at angles through Fogerty’s twangy “Weaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllll,” and “Fortunate Son” for its fusion of hillbilly dirt farmer pride and contemporary political outrage.

  2. 2
    Tom on 24 Sep 2006 #

    Yeah it’s far from my favourite CCR, but I do think it’s a fine, tight record, and it always sounded good on that jukebox.

  3. 3
    GeorgeB on 24 Sep 2006 #

    This is a terrific song. Ok, John Fogerty and Creedence were great technicians and it does tick all the right boxes, maybe in a bloodless way – good intro, simple lyric, vocalist with the right kind of catch in his voice, sharp ending, right length (doesn’t outsay its welcome) – but I’ll still argue with anyone who considers it perfunctory and cold. Apocalyptic subject matter has rarely been put across so “jauntily”. Does anyone know what kept it off number one in the US? To be honest, I wouldn’t have minded this one being given a 9 or even a 10 – guess it’s up to the Archies now.

  4. 4
    Ward Fowler on 24 Sep 2006 #

    The subject of an advert ‘spoiling’ a song – or at the very least locking it into a set of possibly unwanted or unwarranted associations – came up recently w/ regard to ‘Something in the Air’. Well, when I hear this song now I ALWAYS think of the big transformation sequence in An American Werewolf in London – it’s an obvious but effective juxtaposition (and the film is full of ‘moon’ songs) but it does, for me, rob ‘Bad Moon Rising’ of some of its secondary, Viet Nam-era connotations (“looks like we’re in for stormy weather” etc etc), which is a bit of a shame.

  5. 5
    Chris Brown on 24 Sep 2006 #

    I’ve always hated this one. Sorry, guys, that whole charoogle southern boogie thing just turns me off.

    Catchy, though.

  6. 6

    american werewolf in london is a metaphor for vietnam! london = washington, lycanthropy = antiwar radicalism, when he sees him dead in the mirror = the spectre at the media feast of those who won’t be returning, beefeaters = the vietcong er er

  7. 7
    fivelongdays on 24 Sep 2006 #

    Does anyone know what kept it off number one in the US?

    “Get Back” by The Beatles

  8. 8
    Marcello Carlin on 25 Sep 2006 #

    An interviewer once mentioned to Fogerty that the chorus line was frequently misheard as “There’s a bad moon on the Right.” Fogerty replied he was happy with that, since that was actually what he meant.

  9. 9
    Martin Skidmore on 25 Sep 2006 #

    I always wished I had the chorus line of this on some sort of ansaphone type push-button thing, so that when guests at my last home asked where the toilet was I could have John Fogerty intone (what I always thought sounded like) “There a bathroom on the right.”

    I love Creedence, and would have marked this higher though, yeah, it’s not my favourite of theirs either.

  10. 10
    wwolfe on 25 Sep 2006 #

    I love the juxtaposition of “In the Year 2525” with “Bad Moon Rising”: two apocalyptic songs, one pure cheese, the other really good. I think that says something about the times: lots of folks aspired to the Big Statement, a few of them succeeded, and the cheesy stuff might sell just as well as the good stuff. Something similar is true of every era, of course, but I think the urge to make the Big Statement ( or at least to give the appearance of doing so) was at its peak in this era.

  11. 11
    Waldo on 26 Oct 2009 #

    “Swamp Music” is what this was and I remember it very clearly being at the top. We used to have one of those things called a radiogram, a piece of furniture the size of Clapham Common containing a record player, a radio, escaped Great Train Robbers and everything else. For some reason I recall distinctly sitting next to this when BBR was number one. Like for many of you this is not my favourite CCR hit – “Up Around The Bend” is, I think, but for a song warning of impending doom, this isn’t half bad. Hardly “Eve Of Destruction”, of course, but what you gonna do?

  12. 13
    mapman132 on 21 Feb 2014 #

    Interesting that CCR managed a UK#1 – as I mentioned in another recent thread, they have the unfortunate distinction of five US#2’s without a #1, this being one of them.

  13. 14
    swanstep on 19 Apr 2014 #

    I like this track and give it a 7 too. Like everyone else, it’s not my favorite Creedence track – I especially love both of their ‘Rain’ songs (not that I’ve explored CCR beyond a Greatest Hits collection) – but it’s fun and still manages to be emblematic of their Nixon-era, all-is-not-well-babe prime. Mad Men Season 7 just started and Nixon’s in the White House. We see and hear a little of his inaugural address and he sounds amazingly like a therapist to the nation, which is an indicator of the deep unease at the time. But we viewers know that this talking cure’s going to be worse than the disease. Bad Moon on the right indeed (thanks Marcello, 8). I assume that Sonic Youth’s menacing Bad Moon Rising (1985) intended a similar meaning and mis-hearing between the lines.

  14. 15
    tm on 19 Apr 2014 #

    I’d say this is one of my favourite CCR songs: I like the ghoulishness of it: John Fogherty seems positively delighted that ‘were in for nasty weather’, like Cabin In The Woods’ harbinger of doom chuckling as he prophesises the bloodletting to come.

    White Ape occasionally do this as a warm up though it’s somewhat ill-suited: it’s hard to resist snarling through the last verse and tearing the vocal chords…

    PS What’s CCR’s other Rain song?

  15. 16
    tm on 19 Apr 2014 #

    We’re, not were as in wolf!

  16. 17
    swanstep on 19 Apr 2014 #

    @TM,15. Who’ll Stop the Rain?, i.e., in addition to the nailed-on 10 of Have You Ever Seen the Rain?

  17. 18
    tm on 19 Apr 2014 #

    Ah yes, good song. And agree HYESTR, top tune. So good The Ramones had a stab at it!

  18. 19
    hectorthebat on 4 Jun 2014 #

    Critic watch:

    1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010)
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh & Kevin Stein (USA) – The 40 Best of the Top 40 Singles by Year (1981) 3
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 198
    Life (USA) – 40 Years of Rock & Roll, 5 Songs for Each Year 1952-91 (Updated 1995)
    Pitchfork (USA) – Top 200 Songs of the 60s (2006) 155
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (2004) 355
    Rolling Stone (USA) – The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time (Updated 2010) 364
    Guinness Book of Hits of the ’60s (UK, 1984) – Tim Rice’s Top 10 Songs
    New Musical Express (UK) – The Top 150 Singles of All Time (1987) 61
    Q (UK) – The 1001 Best Songs Ever (2003) 585
    Sounds (UK) – The 100 Best Singles of All Time (1986) 61
    Rolling Stone (Germany) – The Best Singles of 5 Decades (1997)
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)

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