Who’ll Stop the Rain by John Fogerty: Lyrics Meaning and Interpretation

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Who’ll Stop the Rain is a folk rock song written by country/rock singer John Fogerty. The song was originally recorded by the American band CCR (Creedence Clearwater Revival) for their album Cosmo’s Factory in 1970. Reaching the top 5 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, Who’ll Stop the Rain experienced commercial and critical success.

The song became very popular, leaving behind a legacy of famous covers and use in media. American legend Bruce Springsteen performed this song extensively on his 1980-81’s River Tour. He would begin his concert with this song if it rained that day. Other musicians who have covered Who’ll Stop the Rain include Rod Stewart, Courtney Jaye, Rudy Rotta, Bob Seger, Microdisney and many more.

Japanese author Haruki Murakami referenced the song in his novel Hear the Wind Sing. The song was also used in the 1994 hit Hollywood film, Forest Gump.

Creedence Clearwater Revival band was formed in El Cerrito, California. It comprised of lead vocalist, guitarist and songwriter John Fogerty, rhythm guitarist Tom Fogerty, bassist Stu Cook and drummer Doug Clifford. In 1972, the band parted ways. From there, John Fogerty went on to have a successful solo career. During its time, the band experienced considerable success and popularity, selling over 28 million records in the United States alone.

Title – What does it mean?

The title Who’ll Stop the Rain is rhetorical in tone. The songwriter puts out this question to the world, not really expecting a reply. Normally, rain is associated with gloom, sadness and destruction. “The Rain” here is a metaphor for tough times and the problems in the world. Fogerty hopes to find a saviour or an answer which will solve the issues ailing human-kind.

Verse 1 – What does it mean?

Long as I remember

The rain been comin’ down

Clouds of myst’ry pourin’

Confusion on the ground


In the first verse, songwriter John Fogerty speaks of the age old conflict between good and bad, right and wrong, heroes and villains.

“The rain” which has been pouring down through the ages refers to hard times. Such situations could be a result of natural calamities or man-made wars. “…myst’ry pourin’” denotes the supernatural, mysterious ways of God, which lead to disasters or the corruption of humankind. It is not easy to predict when the next cyclone will hit, or when the next earthquake will bury down a town.

The innocent people, who fall victim to such catastrophe, panic in confusion. No one can determine the precise reason for such a dire fate. Nobody knows for sure what they did to deserve such a wrath.

Good men through the ages

Tryin’ to find the sun

And I wonder

Still I wonder

Who’ll stop the rain


But among these survivors are “Good men”, who turn up when the occasion calls to them. “…through the ages” these people take on the responsibility to tackle the situation instead of passively playing the victim. “…to find the sun” here alludes to the ray of hope, wishing for the clouds of storm to part so that the sun shines again. The Sun is associated with life, energy, vitality and happiness. These “Good men” try to find solutions to the problems faced by the world. And the narrator wonders, if they will succeed.

Verse 2 – What does it mean?


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I went down Virginia

Seekin’ shelter from the storm

Caught up in the fable

I watched the tower grow

The second verse takes on a political tone. The reference to Virginia comes from Fogerty’s personal experience during the infamous Vietnam War. Fogerty was assigned to the Army Reserve as a backup soldier, despite being drafted in the year 1966. This way, he avoided fighting in the war altogether. During his time in the military, he served at a station in Fort Lee in Virginia.

“…the fable” here refers to the political narrative which determines public opinion. In a way, it reflects how the masses are brainwashed with notions of nationalism and pride. “…the tower” is the manifestation of that blind pride which makes people think wars and battles make a nation great. While many people protested the Vietnam War, an overwhelming majority supported it in the United States, believing “in the fable”.

Five-year plans and new deals

Wrapped in golden chains

And I wonder

Still I wonder

Who’ll stop the rain

The use of “Five-year plans” is a direct reference to governance systems. Every new ruling party governs for a set period of time. They try to mould the fate of their nation as per their beliefs and ambitions. “ deals” may refer to allegiances or coups, which primarily serve the interests of the partners involved.

Meanwhile, the citizens are “Wrapped in golden chains”. This alludes to the false narrative told to the public, fooling them that whatever the government does, is for their sake. But in reality they are just held prisoner in golden chains. The term “golden” reflects prosperity and progress, but it is in fact just an illusion.

Fogerty wonders again, if there will ever be someone who saves them from this corruption.

Verse 3 – What does it mean?

Heard the singers playin’

How we cheered for more

The crowd had rushed together

Tryin’ to keep warm

Fogerty takes a steep turn in the final verse of the song. From using rhetoric in the first verse and social commentary in the second, he now speaks from personal experience. In 1969, Fogerty experienced heavy rain during the Woodstock Music Festival. To his amazement, the concertgoers refused to seek shelter and chose to listen to the concert while getting drenched. This incident had inspired Fogerty to write the song.

Fogerty hints at a solution in the lines “…rushed together, Tryin’ to keep warm”. Despite the pouring rain, people can stand together in unity and fight the cold. It is the strength we exude together as a group which matters more than a few good individuals striving for justice.

Still the rain kept pourin’

Fallin’ on my ears

And I wonder

Still I wonder

Who’ll stop the rain

But there is always a risk involved. “…the rain” may keep pouring, to the extent that people fail to sense each other. Fogerty uses a great analogy here, describing how the crowds continue to cheer but the rain is falling on his ears and dulling his ability to hear them. And in this risk of standing against the rain, he wonders if there will ever be any permanent solution.


This song is smartly written and divided into three distinct sections. Each section narrates from a different perspective. Though the overall mood of the song is gloomy, there are bits of hope to be found within the verses. The relevance of this song is no joke. It still rings true.

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