This is often believed to be about the Vietnam War, as it referred to a "jungle" and was released in 1970. The fact that previous CCR songs such as "Who'll Stop the Rain?" and "Fortunate Son" were protests of the Vietnam War added to this theory. In response, John Fogerty said: "I think a lot of people thought that because of the times, but I was talking about America and the proliferation of guns, registered and otherwise. I'm a hunter and I'm not antigun, but I just thought that people were so gun-happy - and there were so many guns uncontrolled that it really was dangerous, and it's even worse now. It's interesting that it has taken 20-odd years to get a movement on that position."
This position is best demonstrated in this lyric:
200 million guns are loaded Satan cries, "Take aim!"
This opens with jungle sound effects created by, according to Stu Cook, "lots of backwards recorded guitar and piano."
Speaking about the musical influence on this song, John Fogerty said: "There were so many more people I'd never heard of - like Charlie Patton (an early Delta bluesman). I'm ashamed to admit that, but he wasn't commercially accessible, I guess. I read about him, and about a month or two later, I realized there were recordings of his music. To me, that was like if Moses had left behind a DAT with the Dead Sea Scrolls or something! 'You mean you can hear him?! Oh my God!' And then when I did hear Patton, he sounded like Howlin' Wolf, who was a big influence on me. When I did 'Run Through the Jungle,' I was being Howlin' Wolf, and Howlin' Wolf knew Charlie Patton!"
The line, "Devil's on the loose" ("They told me, 'Don't go walking slow 'cause Devil's on the loose'") was taken from music journalist Phil Elwood, who misinterpreted the line "doubles on kazoo" from the song "Down on the Corner" ("Willy goes into a dance and doubles on kazoo"). Fogerty saw this misquoted lyric in the newspaper and loved it, so he thanked Phil and used it for "Run through the Jungle."
Former CCR executive Saul Zaentz claimed that the song "The Old Man Down The Road," which Fogerty released as a solo artist, was too similar to this song, and even took him to court. It was perhaps the first time an artist was sued for plagiarizing himself. Fogerty won that case, but Zaentz also sued him for his song "Zanz Kant Danz," professing that it was an attack on him. Zaentz won that case and Fogerty not only had to pay a fine, but also had to change the song's name to "Vanz Kant Danz."
This was released as the B-side to the single for "Up Around the Bend," which was issued in April and quickly went gold. Most artists didn't use songs that could be standalone singles as B-sides, but if you bought a CCR single, you often got two hit songs - another example is "Travelin' Band" and "Who'll Stop The Rain?," which were paired on the same single.
John Fogerty played the harmonica part. Like the vocals on "Down on the Corner," he recorded it after recording the actual song and dubbed it in, because it went from harmonica to vocals so quickly and he couldn't remove the harmonica from his mouth fast enough. John also played harmonica on his solo effort The Wall (not to be confused with the Pink Floyd album).
Fogerty told Guitar World in 1997 that when he sang "Run Through the Jungle," he was "being Howlin' Wolf," an artist he cites as a major influence on him.
The Gun Club covered this for their album Miami, although with different lyrics because vocalist and band leader Jerry Pierce couldn't understand what John Fogerty was singing. He took some lyrics from black slavery songs, a Willie Brown song and personal experience (a heroin overdose is mentioned). They first performed it at a friend's birthday party before they were persuaded to include it on the album.
Besides Gun Club, this has been covered by Bruce Springsteen, Georgia Satellites, 8 Eyed Spy, Los Lobos and Killdozer.
Tom Fogerty called this song, "My all-time favorite Creedence tune." He added, "It's like a little movie in itself with all the sound effects. It never changes key, but it holds your interest the whole time. It's like a musician's dream. It never changes key, yet you get the illusion it does."
Suggestion credit: Brett - Edmonton, Canada
This song has appeared in the following movies:
Air America (1990) My Girl (1991) Rudy (1993) The Big Lebowski (1998) Radiofreccia (1998) Radio Arrow (1998) Tropic Thunder (2008) Drift (2013)
And these TV series:
Entourage (The Scene - 2004) Supernatural ("Sin City" - 2007, "Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire" - 2015) Hawaii Five-0 ("Kahu" - 2012)
Harry from Sunnyvale, CaHow can Fogerty claim it wasn't about the war when the song was released in 1970 at the height of it and there were many anti-war songs being played? How can the lyrics say "Two hundred million guns are loaded/Satan cries "take aim" and the chorus repeating the song's title, "Better Run Through the Jungle," and not be about the Viet Nam War? What it looks like is Fogerty has joined the other side wanting to repel the second amendment, so the real criminals running our government can have a dictatorship without us shooting at them.
Terry from Valliant, OkLike the majority of folks, I always thought this song was about Vietnam. Then I read Fogerty's comments about too many guns in the US. I reckon that makes me a hypocrite because while I love the song, I'm also a certified gun nut. I've been trying for years to play the harmonica solo, and I've been crashing and burning in that attempt for years.
Dalan from Notacityyet, MtI grew up in the 60s expecting to be drafted and get sent overseas. We had our version of what?it would be like and called our creek bottom "the jungle", maybe a version of "Cowboys and Indians". Yes, we were fighting "Gooks."
Although the "Gooks" never appeared and we never got drafted, I joined the Air Force, one joined the Army, and two became Marines.
We never look back on those times withought laughing at those times and being proud of being able to serve. We do get stared at, and saluted, but we always give back everything with a smile.
"Forever indebted to the freedoms we will fight for without hesitation."
Our friendship motto to this day is, "DONT LOOK BACK CAUSE SATAN CRIES FAIR GAME !!!".
Oldpink from Farmland, InShort trivia note for those who don't know. You see Fogerty's mention of Charlie Patton. Not very long ago, Fogerty himself saw that Patton would at last have a proper grave marker, financing it personally as his own moving tribute, and you can see what that marker looks at over on findagrage.com. Not spamming, just informing those who might be curious. I can't say I agree much with Fogerty's politics, but THAT was a truly classy move right there.
Frank from Rochacha, NyI feel (i know it is most likely wrong) that this song is about trying to just get passed the hardships(jungle). I can see how this relates more to the Vietnam War. I think that what i feel is more timeless and could help more young kids (hopefully the good ones) to catch on. I hate thinking marketing but that just seems to be the way of life now :(
Jeff from Panama City , Flthe epitome of the times... april 1970...the release date for run through the jungle...very much a vietnam reference in spite of john's explaination...but in fact it was indeed a time of excess...including guns, pollution, war, fear merchants, and horsepower....a spot of time that those who lived it will never forget....definitely the proverbial nail in the coffin to the turbulent sixties....
Dave from The Midlands, United KingdomWhen I saw Forest Gump, the scene where he rescues his platoon from the the Viet jungle, when under "friendly" fire, was backed by this song. It was a very powerful scene, being to my mind one of the most important parts of the film.
However, when I have watched it every time since on TV, this scene has a different song behind it. I can't remember the song though.
Can anybody throw any light on this and tell me why the scene was changed?
Rick from Winnipeg, MbCheck out Howlin' Wolf's "My Baby Walked Off". You'll hear a lot of Creedence in that one from the early '50s - in the guitar and voice...
Martin Sheen from Lima, OhA song alluding to the conflit in Vietnam.
Rusty from Stockton On Tees, EnglandWhat can I say, but this song is just brilliant. John Fogerty - what a man, so much talent ! Just started playing this & "Have you ever seen the rain" in my band, absolutely love playing them. Not sure if anybody listening enjoys them, but who cares; we're having a great time !!
Mike from Concord, CaFogerty did the vocals and the lead guitar. Then overdubbed the harmonica, the piano, the "feedback guitar", the acoustic guitar and even helped with the hand claps. He is amazing.
Mark from Twin Cities Metro Area, MoI always thought it was a Viet Nam war protest song. The pipe line sound at the start and end sound like F4 Phantoms flying over the jungle and dropping napalm bombs. Like Americans are war mongers (200 million guns are loaded, Satin crys "Take Aim"
Mike from Hueytown , AlAnother bad ass CCR song ! The meaning can be used different ways I think. I don't see how John didn't have Vietnam in mind though. .
John from Louisville, KyMy dad loves this song, as do i, and he believes its refrencing to getting drugs in a shady part of town, where as all the dealers showed there guns off and arn't afraid to use them, so once you get those drugs, you dont look back, and get out of that bad area. Fogerty said in his quote above how he was talking not about war, but about the lack of gun control here in the states, i think that that backs this theory up.
Spencer from Las Vegas, Nvto me this song is about the end of satan's rule over the world. In the bible it sais that he will be the world's leader. It also sais Jesus will end his rein. Satan is mentioned during the begining. Later "Thunder magic spoke, Let the people know my wisdom, fill the land with smoke", I believe that this is Jesus. When the people know his message, or "knowledge" we will be able to get away from satan and go to heaven. The smoke would temporarily blind satan as we left. He would be left to rule over an empty world.
Alex from Hamburg, GermanyIn a Creedence Biography, it is said that John wrote and arranged it over just one weekend (along with "up around the bend") and recorded it with Tom, Doug and Stu until the following Wednesday. If that's true - incredible! And if not.. I still love the song! One of their most menacing tunes, conveys a great atmosphere!
John from Kalamazoo, Kythis song makes me think of a war
Jolene from Melbourne, AustraliaJust saw John Fogerty in Melbourne and he is AMAZING, so talented and sounded just incredible.
Jude from Thomasville, GaI played "Run Through The Jungle" and "The Old Man Down The Road" back to back. It was an enjoyable experience because John Fogerty is a great artist...BUT the two songs are totally different. "Run Through The Jungle" has a slower tempo and a lower key (which accounts for the Howlin' Wolf growl.). It's embelished with harmonica and backwards guitar. "Old Man Down The Road" is higher and faster with more squealing guitar. They're both terrific songs, but my favorite is "Vanz Kant Danz".
Panther from Houston, TxActually, I think Fogerty's comment about "being Howlin' Wolf" in this song has little to do with the song itself being inspired by a Howlin' Wolf song. Instead, I believe it would refer to the growl you hear in his voice for this song, which you'll also hear in a few others like "Born on the Bayou", but for the most part was not Fogerty's natural voice (unlike Wolf, of course).
Brandon from Seattle, WaWas the Howlin' Wolf song influence for this song, "Smokestack Lightning", or was this song influenced by another Howlin' Wolf song? Because, "Susie Q" sounds more like Howlin' Wolf than "Run Through The Jungle".