Creedence Clearwater Revival were quite the phenomenon from 1967 to 1972. During that short period– only 5 years– they racked up ten songs in the Top 20, 5 of them making it to #2. In the middle of that run, they released “Run Through The Jungle” in April 1970. The song is often identified with the Viet Nam war, but we explore the true roots of the song and listen to the individual elements that make up this great track.

“Run Through The Jungle” (John Fogerty) Copyright 1970 Jondora Music


Hey, friends, it’s Brad Page, host of the ““I’m In Love With That Song”” podcast here on the Pantheon Network. It’s time to put on your explorer helmet and spelunking boots one more time, because we’re about to explore another song and see what we discover. As always, no prior musical knowledge or experience is required; we don’t get technical here. If you’re willing to just listen a little more intently, and want to learn more about what goes into making a great song, you’ve come to the right place.

This time, we are heading back to 1970 to cross paths with Creedence Clearwater Revival and explore one of my favorite songs of theirs, “Run Through The Jungle”.

The band that we know as Creedence Clearwater Revival began in El Cerrito, California, sometime around 1959. Back then, they were known as the Blue Velvets: John Fogerty on guitar, his brother Tom also on guitar, and both of them shared lead vocals back then, with Stu Cook on bass and Doug Clifford on drums. Here’s a single recorded by the Blue Velvets in 1961 called “Come On Baby”. It was written by Tom Fogerty, and it’s Tom singing lead.

In 1964, they signed a contract with Fantasy Records. The record company changed their name to the Gollywogs– which they hated. Blue Velvets wasn’t a great name, but I don’t know why the label thought Gollywogs was any better. I’d hate that name, too.

Anyway, the Gollywogs recorded quite a few singles. Here’s one from 1965 called, “You Got Nothing On Me”.

In 1967, the band changed their name to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Their first single as CCR, a song called “Porterville”, didn’t chart. But their second single, their version of “Susie Q”, that was a hit.

“Susie Q” would be their only Top 40 hit that was not written by John Fogerty. By now, John had become the driving force in the band. He was writing the songs, he was singing the songs, he was producing the records. Creedence Clearwater Revival was now essentially John Fogarty’s band.

A boatload of hit singles would follow. We may revisit a couple of them on the show in the future, you never know. But today, we’re going to focus on the song “Run Through The Jungle”.

Originally released as a single in April 1970, it was what they used to call a “Double A-sided” single, because both sides of the 45 record were earmarked for potential hits and radio play. The other side of this single was “Up Around The Bend”, which was indeed a hit, too. Both songs were included on their album “Cosmos Factory”. Released in the summer of 1970, “Cosmos Factory” was their fifth studio album. Creedence would eventually release seven studio albums; six of them became platinum albums, selling over a million copies each. In fact, “Cosmos Factory” would go on to sell 4 million copies. It’s their biggest selling album, and in my opinion, it’s their best.

“Run Through The Jungle” was the song that closed out Side One of the album. The song opens with a pretty psychedelic effect. Sounds to me like a piano in the middle with guitars panned left and right, heavy with echo. The guitar in the right channel begins to oscillate. That’s when the echo feeds back on itself. This is an ominous way to start the song.

There’s that tambourine that sounds like a rattlesnake. And then the main guitar riff comes in, which is sitting primarily in the right channel. Tom fills and hand claps in the left channel.

The rest of the band joins in and we’re off.

And that’s pretty much it. Musically, the song stays with the same riff for the duration of the song. That repetition of the riff, it’s almost like a drone. It’s hypnotic. It sets such a mood to me, it never gets boring. Here’s the first verse.

The vocals are thick with a slapback echo. It’s very 1950s style sound. Let’s listen to John Fogarty’s vocal track.

Now, here’s something interesting. This song has often been interpreted as being about Vietnam. The song came out in 1970 when the war was still raging, and the song’s been used in movies and tv shows as a soundtrack to Vietnam era scenes. But when Fogerty wrote this song, he wasn’t thinking about the jungles of Vietnam. He was thinking about the urban jungles right here in America. Here’s a quote from John Fogerty from an interview he did with Dan Rather back in 2016. He said, “the thing I wanted to talk about was gun control and the proliferation of guns.” I think that puts a whole different spin on the imagery in the song. Let’s pick it up at the second verse.

I know gun control is a controversial issue, so I’m going to let John Fogerty speak for himself. Here’s a clip from that same interview”

“I think I remember reading around that time that there was one gun for every man, woman and child in America, which I found staggering. We’re talking about privately held guns. Um, and so at somewhere in the song, I think I say 200 million guns are loaded. Not that anyone else has the answer. I did not have the answer to the question. I just had the question. I just thought that it was disturbing that it was such a jungle for our citizens re to just to walk around in our own country, at least having to be aware that there are so many private guns, um, owned by some responsible and maybe many irresponsible people.”

Let’s hear the vocal track for this verse again. And the first line has one of those classic idiosyncratic fogey phrasings on the word “Heard”.

John Fogerty takes a harmonica solo here, but let’s check out some of the backing tracks here as well. Like all Creedence songs, they keep it pretty basic. Just a couple of guitars, bass and drums.

First, let’s check out those bass and drums. That’s a pretty gnarly bass sound. Let’s listen to a little bit of that for a while. Here’s the main electric guitar part. I think this is two separate guitar parts. One in the left, one in the right. The one on the right is louder, but it could just be one guitar. There’s so much tremolo effect on the guitars, it’s hard to tell. It’s a great riff though.

That harmonica part along with the other guitar part played by Tom Fogerty, plus some overdubbed percussion and some acoustic guitar accents.

The harmonica continues to play on in between the vocal lines.

Let’s listen to a little bit more of that harmonica’s unsettling effects from the opening of the song return some of it played backwards this time.

“Run Through The Jungle” – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Here’s an interesting fun fact for you: According to the Billboard Hot 100, Creedence has the distinction of being the band with the most number two hits without any number one hits. Over the course of their career, Creedence had ten songs that made the top 25 of those made it all the way to number two, but none of them made it to number one. Just an interesting bit of trivia.

Thanks for listening to this edition of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. New episodes of this show magically appear on the 1st and the 15th of every month, so we’ll see you back here in about two weeks. Until then, you can catch up with all of our previous shows on our website, or on Apple Podcasts, Google, Amazon, Spotify. Basically, anywhere you can find podcasts, you’ll find our show.

You can keep in touch with us on Facebook, just search for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast and you can write a review on Podchaser or wherever it is that you listen to the show. And if you have friends who love music as much as you do, share this show with them. I really appreciate that.

We are part of the Pantheon network of podcasts, where you’ll find a ton of other great music related shows, so check them out.

And thanks again for listening to this episode on Creedence Clearwater Revival and “Run Through The Jungle”.


Credence Clearwater Revival

John Fogerty

Cosmos Factory Album

Dan Rather Interview with John Fogerty

Facebook Page for the Podcast


Before there was Ziggy Stardust, there was Arnold Corns…

Thanks to a legendary performance on Top Of The Pops 50 years ago, “Starman” became Bowie’s first hit since “Space Oddity” and proved he wasn’t a one-hit wonder. In this episode, we dig into the history of this song and the origin of Ziggy Stardust.

“Starman” (David Bowie) Copyright 1972 Chrysalis Music Limited, EMI Music Publishing Limited & Tintoretto Music/RZO Music

Here’s a few more Bowie episodes for your listening pleasure:


Are you freaked out in a moon age daydream? Well, you better hang on to yourself, because here comes another episode of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast on the Pantheon Podcast Network. I’m your host, Brad Page, and on this show, I pick one of my favorite songs and we listen to it together to discover all of the nuances and elements, those special moments that make the song work.

David Bowie is one of our favorite subjects here on this show, because he’s one of my favorite artists. This month marks the 50th anniversary of the song that introduced Ziggy Stardust to the world, and launched David Bowie into stardom. So let’s celebrate the release of that iconic single from April 28, 1970, 250 years ago. This is David Bowie with “Starman”.

By 1971, David Bowie had been making records for eight years. But critical acclaim eluded him. He had tried being a blues singer. He had tried being a folky. He finally had a taste of real success with “Space Oddity” in 1969, but he was on the verge of being a one hit wonder.

As a teenager, he worked for an advertising agency in London. He only lasted there a year, but he was there long enough to pick up some basic advertising and marketing skills that he would later put to good use. He knew how to present an image, and he believed he had finally landed on the right product: the ultimate rock star. He just needed to do some market testing.

In 1971, along with his own recording contract, he was also working as a songwriter for a publisher, trying to write hit songs for other people. He had recorded a couple of demos that he wanted to release, but because he was under contract to a different record label, he couldn’t release the songs under his own name. So, he invented a character and a band to go along with it. But it’s not who you think.

The name of this band was Arnold Corns, and their lead singer was named Rudy Valentino. Neither Arnold Corns nor Rudy Valentino really existed. Bowie had met a 19-year-old fashion designer named Freddie Burretti. Bowie thought Freddie had the look of a rock star and would be the perfect guinea pig and front man for this new fake band. The fact that Freddie couldn’t sing, that was no problem– Bowie would provide the voice.

So David gave Freddie the stage name of “Rudy Valentino” and created the fake band Arnold Corns to back him up. Bowie hyped them up in the press, saying that the Rolling Stones are finished and Rudy would be the next Mick Jagger. So Arnold Korns released two singles. One of them was “Moonage Daydream”, backed with “Hang On To Yourself”. Here’s a little bit of Arnold Korn’s version of “Moonage Daydream”.

And here’s some of the Arnold Korn’s version of “Hang On To Yourself”.

You can really hear the Lou Reed influence in that version. Well, fortunately for the Rolling Stones, Arnold Corns was no threat. Both singles flopped and sunk without a trace.

This experiment was not a success, but Bowie would learn from it and revisit it later. In the meantime, Bowie released the “Hunky Dory” album in December 1971. Still, I think one of his best albums, “Hunky Dory”, was a leap forward in his songwriting and another rung up the ladder of success. But Bowie still had bigger ambitions. He revisited his concept of the ultimate rock star and drew inspiration from Elvis Presley to Howard Hughes, from the legendary Stardust Cowboy to the self-destruction of Hendrix and Joplin, and from novels from Van Daniken’s “Chariots of the Gods” to “I Am Still The Greatest, Says John Angelo” by Nick Cohn.

He wrote new songs and resurrected old ones like “Moonage Daydream” and “Hang On To Yourself” to create the album that would finally make David Bowie a legend, “The Rise And Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”.

The Ziggy Stardust album has been called a “concept album”. Fair enough… It has a concept, but not much of a coherent story. Essentially, it’s the ascent and decline of a rock star who may or may not be an alien. Bowie, of course, plays Ziggy Stardust, and in doing so, he’s commenting on the role of the rock star in our culture and challenging the ideas of authenticity.

The album was released in June 1972. Before the album was released, “Starman” was issued as a single on April 28, 1972. “Starman” was the introduction of Ziggy Stardust to the world.

“Starman” was one of the last songs written for the album. It’s a classic example of a record label executive saying “I don’t hear a hit” and forcing the artist to go back and write something new for a single. Luckily, Bowie delivered.

It’s possible Bowie might have been inspired by science fiction author Robert Heinlein’s book “Starman Jones”. Bowie’s real name, after all, was David Jones. Musically, he drew inspiration from a few sources, and we’ll explore those. “Starman” features the Spiders from Mars, Trevor Boulder on bass, Woody Woodmansey on drums, and the great Mick Ronson, one of my real guitar heroes, on guitar and backing vocals; David Bowie played acoustic guitar as well as lead vocal, and Mick Ronson also played mellotron and wrote the string arrangement. The song was produced by David Bowie and Ken Scott.

The song opens with Bowie’s twelve string guitar.

All right, let’s get into it. David’s twelve string guitar is in the right channel. There’s also a keyboard, probably that Mellotron holding a single note, one bass guitar note, a single strum of another guitar and guitar and bass again. David is singing there, but it’s just nonsense syllables. Though he did take the time to overdub a harmony on the first one. Then Woody Woodmansey’s drum fill kicks off the first verse.

Listen to how dry that drum sound is. No reverb on that at all. The instrumentation is pretty spare on the verse, just bass, drums and two acoustic guitars panned left and right.

Woody Woodmancy is laying down a nice groove on the drums. Let’s check that out.

I guarantee you David Bowie did not talk like that in real life. He’s channeling a character here.

Now, at this point, there’s a short transitional piece of music that links the verse to the chorus. Sounds like Morse code, or an old telegraph. It evokes the idea of messages being beamed through space. Could be the Starman letting us know he’s here. It paints an audio picture. Bowie actually got the idea from another song, “You Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes. Here it is.

Now let’s go back to “Starman” and hear how this section joins the verse and the chorus together.

That one, no DJ. That was high as it cosmic time.

Mick Ronson and David are singing the harmonies. The instrumentation is still just bass, drums and acoustic guitar, but the string section is added on the chorus and it’s filling in a lot of empty space.

“Let the children boogie”. Around this time, Mark Bolan and T Rex were probably the hottest act in the UK. T Rex were known for playing their own brand of boogie rock. Bolan was definitely bigger than Bowie at this point. They were friends, but they were also competitors, and Bowie clearly had Bolan in his sights when he made this album.  After Bowie says “let the children boogie”, the band goes into a riff that would have been right at home on a T Rex record. It’s a nod, a tip of the hat to Mark Bolan, but it’s also a little bit mocking and somewhat ironic too, as “Starman” marks Bowie’s ascent, the point where Bolan had plateaued and Bowie was about to eclipse him.

Notice the hand claps after the guitar boogie section, we have the second verse. The electric guitars disappear. It’s just the acoustics again. And Bowie turns in a restrained, almost delicate vocal as compared to the chorus. Where he’s really belting it out.

Trevor Boulder plays a nice bass part during the verse, so pay some attention to that.

The chorus begins with some vocal gymnastics by Bowie. From the word “star”, his voice leaps a full octave to the word “man”. Generations of songwriters have used that technique, as it immediately adds a sense of drama, both a literal and a figurative rise in the song. And Bowie was particularly inspired here by this classic song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”, performed by Judy Garland and written by Harold Arlin and Edgar Harburg for “The Wizard of Oz”. I mean, it’s one of the greatest songs ever written. Of course, Bowie as a songwriter would be inspired by that. Here’s that same octave leap again.

Now, you might think that this is all speculation and that Bowie could have come up with it on his own, or he borrowed it from somewhere else. But listen to this version of Bowie performing “Starman” live at the Rainbow Theater in August 1972.

So there you go. In fact, you could add Judy Garland to the list of those who inspired the creation of Ziggy Stardust, another star whose rise and fall mirrors that of Ziggy. Judy Garland died of an overdose in 1969, less than three years before “Starman” was written.

They repeat the chorus here.

The boogie section is the only time electric guitars are featured in the song. There are two electric guitars here, the solo and the rhythm part in the left channel. And there’s still one acoustic guitar on the right.

 Here’s where everybody gets to sing along, where the listener becomes part of the experience.

Mick Ronson plays some lead guitar in the background and we begin a long fade out, which makes it feel like this sing along could go on forever.

In July 1972, Bowie appeared on the British tv show “Top of the Pops” to perform “Starman”. It was a watershed moment. Watching it now, it all seems so tame, but at the time it was almost revolutionary. Bowie, dressed in a multicolored outfit and that flaming red hairdo that is so identified with Ziggy now, but that was a brand new ‘do at the time. He never mugs for the camera in this performance, but he smirks and grins and just looks like he’s having a great time. When Mick Ronson approaches to share the mic with him, Bowie throws his arm around Mick and pulls him close. And that one move sent a shockwave across England. It seems so innocent now. It’s hard to believe something like that could ever be controversial, but for parents across the UK, the gay subtext was just too much. They were shocked. But for millions of kids watching at home, they saw something liberating. They saw freedom.

When he sings that line in the second verse, “I had to phone someone so I picked on you”, he points into the camera, and all those kids watching at home felt like he was singing directly to them. Robert Smith of the Cure, Bono, Gary Newman, Siouxie Sioux, Mick Jones of the Clash, Boy George. Adam Ant, Noel Gallagher of Oasis, Johnny Marr… seems like everybody who formed a band in England remember seeing Bowie on “Top of the Pops” and consider this a pivotal moment in their lives. If you’ve never seen this clip from “Top of the Pops”, go watch it now. Bowie is absolutely magnetic in this performance. He’s every bit the ultimate rock star.

Thanks for listening and for being a part of the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast. You can continue the discussion on our Facebook page. Just search for the “I’m In Love With That Song” podcast and you’ll find us.

You can listen to our previous episodes on David Bowie, as well as the dozens of other songs and artists we’ve discussed on this show, on our website, And there are plenty of other great music related podcasts on the Pantheon Podcast Network, so check those out too.

We’ll be back in two weeks with another show. Thanks for joining us for this episode on David Bowie and “Starman”. And remember to support the music you love by downloading it, streaming it, or buying it from wherever you find great music.


David Bowie

Hunky Dory album

Space Oddity

Robert Heinlein

The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album

Chariots of the Gods by Erich Von Daniken

Judy Garland

Top of the Pops

You Keep Me Hanging On” by The Supremes

Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Judy Garland