John Fogerty’s song Bad Moon Rising, written for Creedence Clearwater Revival and released in 1969, warns of impending doom. The song, reflecting the confusion and turmoil of the late 1960s, reached second place on the Billboard pop chart.
Sir, I want to thank you for your support. Fogerty, the band’s lead guitarist, singer and main songwriter, recently revealed some unexpected inspirations for the song. A vinyl edition of Mr. Fogerty’s latest album, Fogerty’s Factory (BMG), was recently released. From the interview:
John Fogerty: In 1967 I bought a small notebook to write down ideas for songs. I lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, and the band had just changed its name from Hollywogie to Creedence Clearwater Revival.
During the Summer of Love in ’67, the hippie movement was in full swing. Astrology is on everyone’s lips, especially expressions like Capricorn ascendant and moon in the seventh house.
I understood it the same way we do about UFOs. When people asked me what my star sign was, I told them I was a double asparagus with an emerging broccoli.
But after hearing all these astrological terms and moon names like Harvest Moon, Hunter Moon and Wolf Moon, the idea of an evil moon came to mind. I wrote it in my new notebook.
When I looked at the sentence, it seemed flat and incomplete. What’s a bad moon? So I added the word stand up to give it some action and describe his intentions. Then I had to figure out how to turn it into a song.
Our first album under this new name came out in May ’68. My cover of Suzie Q was our first hit, but it was a fantasy song. If we didn’t have reliable control, I fear we’d be dealing with a single-digit miracle.
When the band recorded Bayou Country, our second album, in October ’68, I knew we had to take the top spot from our last album. Proud Mary is the first single to be released.
When it hit the charts, I felt we needed another single quickly, even before we recorded our third album. Proud Mary finally slipped, and I didn’t want to let too much time pass between thrusts.
My intention was that we would get on the radio and never get out of the game as long as we had the football in our hands. I flipped through my notebook and came across the phrase Bad Moon Rising.
As a kid, I loved the 1941 movie The Devil and Daniel Webster. In a nutshell, it’s the story of a New Hampshire farmer who makes a deal with the devil to get rich in exchange for his soul.
But when it’s time for the devil to cash in, the farmer calls on lawyer Daniel Webster to save him. What I remember most about that raging storm was the city. All my lyrics are inspired by this scene:
Don’t go tonight… Well, it’ll cost you your life… There’s a bad moon coming.
The next verses spoke of the storm:
I hear the whirlwinds blowing / I know the end is near / I fear the rivers will burst their banks / I hear the voice of anger and doom.
I hope you’re packed / I hope you’re ready to die / It looks like we’re going to have bad weather / An eye is an eye for an eye.
Creedence Clearwater Revival 1970 : from left to right, Mr. Fogerty, Doug Clifford, Tom Fogerty and Stu Cook.
Michael Ochs/Getty Images Archives
I wrote the lyrics and music in the small house my wife and I rented in El Cerrito, California. Between the living room and the kitchen there was a space of about 12 feet.
It was my haven for songwriting, more of a mental space than an actual office or study. In this piece, I learned the chords of Bad Moon Rising on my Gibson ES-175, a jazz and country guitar.
One day in January ’69, after showing the rest of the band what I envisioned for Bad Moon Rising, I went to Oakland to visit Fantasy Records and see how our albums were selling.
I parked my Peugeot in front of the building. When I came out an hour later, someone threw a brick through the back door window. My Gibson and my little Fender Tremolux amp and the box I got in the 10th that I bought in high school are gone.
I was inconsolable. I immediately went to a music store near Albany. I’ve heard Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton play Les Paul guitars with a Marshall amp.
At the store, I took the Les Paul Custom, tuned all the strings to a whole tone, and took a big D chord. It sounded good. I bought some Les Pauls. It made Bad Moon Rising look big and menacing.
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In early February 69, the group flew to the RCA studios in Los Angeles. I was writing Lodi at the same time, so we have a song on the B-side. We went to RCA because we recorded Bayou Country there.
We had just recorded some music that day. I intentionally did not record my voices or background vocals. The reason is my childhood love for the singer and guitarist Gene Vincent from the 50s. He did it to get good tools. I wanted the same thing in Bad Moon Rising.
As a result, the guys in the band didn’t hear my voice or even the melody of the song until the record was released. We concentrated on the music.
During the session, I played Paul’s forest. Tom, my older brother, played the 1967 Rickenbacker 360, Stu Cook played the 1967 Fender Precision Bass, and Doug Clifford played the Camco drums.
The instrumental arrangement I wrote was influenced by an Elvis Presley song: I’m left-handed. You’re right. She’s gone. As a kid, I found the 1955 Sun record strangely melancholy.
I loved licking Scotty Moore’s guitar. It dates back to the beginning of Elvis’ career, when they were playing a kind of country music, but at the same time reinventing rock’n’roll.
Elvis Presley and his guitarist Scotty Moore in Los Angeles in June 1956.
Michael Ochs/Getty Images Archives
On Bad Moon Rising, I played this rockabilly shot, imitating Scotty Moore as best I could.
About a week later, I went back to the studio to add my voice and double the guitar parts to double the recording. I sang my song with a reverberating echo to make my voice sound like the sun. I couldn’t stop thinking about Elvis while I was singing.
But the echo darkened my last sentence of the chorus. Instead of hearing: A bad moon is coming, some have heard: There is a bathroom on the right. Now when I make a song, I don’t care if I sing the wrong lyrics.
In 1986, I was at a music award ceremony when someone grabbed me from behind out of nowhere. Give me back all my leaks, he said with a laugh. It was Scotty Moore.
He knew I was a big fan because I was in Bad Moon Rising. When I turned to talk to him, I metaphorically knelt down and thanked him. Then I realized that between Elvis and Daniel Webster, there’s a piece of my childhood in this song.
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frequently asked questions
Who originally sang Bad Moon Rising?
Bad Moon Rising is a song written by John Fogerty and performed by Creedence Clearwater Resurrection. It was the first single from the album Green River, released in April 1969, four months before the album’s release.
Is the bad moon rising over Vietnam?
Creedin’s Clearwater Revival. Famous band whose leader is John Fogerty. Bad Moon Rising represents for me the confusion of the war in the late 1960s between us and Vietnam.
What is Creedence Clearwater Revival’s biggest hit?
The 10 best Creedence Clearwater revival songs – Ultimate Classic Rock
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