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.

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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

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