Creedence Clearwater Revival, ‘Bad Moon Rising’ — Lyrics Uncovered
In conjunction with our recent Top 10 Doomsday Songs, which, if you’re reading this, was a bunch of extra work for nothing since the promised May 21 rapture didn’t take place, we take a look at the lyrics from the No. 2 entry on that list — Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Bad Moon Rising.’
The apocalyptic song from CCR’s 1969 ‘Green River’ album couldn’t be more current during these times when the discussion of the End of Days has commanded headlines and infiltrated news reports across the globe.
CCR frontman John Fogerty has said that he wrote the lyrics for ‘Bad Moon Rising’ after watching the 1941 film ‘The Devil and Daniel Webster.’ The movie deals with a senator who makes a deal with Mr. Scratch (aka the Devil), but Fogerty explained that the inspiration for the song came from the imagery in the film as opposed to the actual plot:
“There’s one great scene where there’s a huge storm, and the neighbor’s corn crop was completely knocked down,” said Fogerty in a quote excerpted in the book ‘Bad Moon Rising: The Unauthorized History of Creedence Clearwater Revival.’ “But next door, the Devil and Daniel Webster are standing side by side, looking out the barn door. You can see Daniel Webster’s corn still standing tall in a straight row, six feet high. The contrast represented a very strong image to me. I took it in a biblical sense, meaning hurricanes and lightning. … Scary, spooky stuff.”
From those images, Fogerty came up with lyrics like “I hear hurricanes a-blowin’ / I know the end is coming soon” and “Don’t go out tonight / Well, it’s bound to take your life.” “My song wasn’t about Mr. Scratch, and it wasn’t about the deal,” Fogerty told Rolling Stone in 1993. “It was about the apocalypse that was going to be visited upon us.”
One of the most fascinating things about ‘Bad Moon Rising’ is the contrast between the song’s apocalyptic lyrics and its upbeat music. Fogerty admitted that the contradiction was unintentional. “It wasn’t until the band was learning the song that I realized the dichotomy,” he recalled. “Here you got this song with all these hurricanes and blowing and raging ruin and all that, but it’s … a happy-sounding tune, right? It didn’t bother me at the time.”
In a humorous side note, the line “There’s a bad moon on the rise” has often been misheard as “There’s a bathroom on the right.” In fact, Fogerty himself has acknowledged the misinterpretation, periodically slipping in the incorrect lyric during his live performances.
Watch Creedence Clearwater Revival Perform ‘Bad Moon Rising’