In Rolling Stone issue 649, John Fogerty explained that the lyrics were inspired by a movie called The Devil And Daniel Webster, in which a hurricane wipes out most of a town. This is where he got the idea for the words "I feel the hurricane blowin', I hope you're quite prepared to die." Overall, he said the song is about the "apocalypse that was going to be visited upon us."
Released in April 1969, this was the lead single from Green River
. The B-side was "Lodi
The song reached its US chart peak of #2 (one of five CCR songs to place that this position - they never got to #1) on July 28, 1969, eight days after the Apollo 11 moon landing. The song has nothing to do with space travel, but the title was somewhat apropos, especially after the mission succeeded.
This was used in two science-fiction movies of the 1980s: An American Werewolf In London (1981) and Twilight Zone: The Movie (1982). In the former, it plays as the main character is awaiting a full moon and wondering if he will turn into a werewolf.
This contains a classic misheard lyric. The line "There's a bad moon on the rise" is often heard as "There's a bathroom on the right." Not only do many people sing the wrong lyrics, but John Fogerty himself sang the "bathroom on the right" lyric once during the "Premonition" concert. It can be heard after the last verse of the song quite plainly.
Fogerty would often have fun with this trope, sometimes pointing to a nearby bathroom from the stage when he got to the famous misheard line.
The music makes this sound like a happy song, but the lyrics are very bleak, describing events that indicate a coming apocalypse.
As a result of this song, American football player Andre Rison's nickname was "Bad Moon," as in "Bad Moon Risin'." Rison was an all-pro wide receiver, but is also famous for having his house burned down by Lisa (Left Eye) Lopes, a singer with TLC who was his girlfriend at the time.
This has been covered by Nirvana, Bruce Springsteen, Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Emmylou Harris, The Reels, The Meteors, Thea Gilmore, Ann Wilson with Gretchen Wilson, Type O Negative, 16 Horsepower, Reels, Spitballs, Blue Aeroplanes, Lagwagon, Battlefield Band, Ducky Boys, Acoustic Shack, Ventures, Meteors, and Rasputina.
Argentine soccer fans came up with a new version of this song after their team advanced to the World Cup finals in 2014 while the host country, Brazil, was eliminated in the semifinal. Set to the tune of this song, Argentines chanted, "Brasil, decime qué se siente tener en casa tu papa," which means "Brazil, tell me how it feels to be bossed around in your own home."
Even the team members were heard singing this taunt, but in the end Argentina did not take home the trophy, as they lost in the final to Germany, the team that beat Brazil.
This became the theme song of the demonstrators during the People's Park riots in Berkeley, California, in 1969.
During his VH1's Storytellers performance, Fogerty said that he was quite aware of the contradiction between the song's lyrical content and its bouncy sound (though he offers no explanation for this). He then recounted how, during many performances, the audience would sing back at him "There's a bathroom on the right" during the final lyric, which actually says "There's a bad moon on the rise." Fogerty has also used the "bathroom" line during some live performances.
In 2010, Jerry Lewis recorded a version of this song with John Fogerty for Lewis' Mean Old Man album, which also featured performances with Keith Richards, Kid Rock, Willie Nelson, and many others.
During a benefit for the Berkeley Hall School, a Vietnam veteran approached Fogerty and told him that he and his squad, who called themselves the Buffalo Soldiers, would blast "Bad Moon Rising" in their camp before going into the jungle on a mission. It was their way of getting pumped up for combat, but also their way of instilling fear in the enemy. In Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, Fogerty expresses admiration for the man's courage, and regret that he cannot remember his name.
"Bad Moon Rising" is the signature walkout song for UFC fighter Jim Miller.
In his memoir, Fogerty said he borrowed the guitar lick for this song from Scotty Moore's work on Elvis Presley's "I'm Left, You're Right, She's Gone
." Fogerty stresses that he wasn't trying to hide that he'd borrowed the lick and was instead openly "honoring it." In 1986, at an unspecified awards get-together, Moore grabbed Fogerty from behind and said, "Give me back my licks!"