This song is John Fogerty's take on the imminent departure of his brother Tom from the band, and the overall tension in the group at a time when they should have been enjoying their success. The line, "I want to know - have you ever seen the rain comin' down on a sunny day?" refers to Tom leaving while CCR was at its commercial zenith. The flip side of this single, "Hey Tonight," is John reassuring the band that all would go well despite the adversity. Tom Fogerty left the group in early 1971, after this album was released. He released three solo albums before dying of tuberculosis in 1990. A fourth album, completed in 1988, was released posthumously.
According to John Fogerty, this song's meaning changed for him over time. Introducing the song at a 2012 show in Arizona, he said: "This song was originally written about a very sad thing that was going on in my life. But I refuse to be sad now. Because now this song reminds me of my little girl, Kelsy, and every time I sing it, I think about Kelsy and rainbows." Fogerty added that this is his all-time favorite song, even though it's one he wrote himself.
Someone told me long ago there's a calm before the storm, I know; it's been comin' for some time. When it's over, so they say, it'll rain a sunny day, I know; shinin' down like water.
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain? I want to know, have you ever seen the rain Comin' down on a sunny day?
Yesterday, and days before, sun is cold and rain is hard, I know; been that way for all my time. 'til forever, on it goes through the circle, fast and slow, I know; it can't stop, i wonder.
Songwriters: John Cameron Fogerty
Have You Ever Seen the Rain lyrics © S.I.A.E. Direzione Generale, Jondora Music