Run Through the Jungle
|"Run Through the Jungle"|
|Single by Creedence Clearwater Revival|
|from the album Cosmo's Factory|
|A-side||"Up Around the Bend"|
|Format||7" 45 rpm|
|Recorded||March 1970, Wally Heider's Studio, San Francisco, California|
|Creedence Clearwater Revival singles chronology|
The song was written by Creedence's lead singer, guitarist and songwriter, John Fogerty. It was included on their 1970 album Cosmo's Factory, the group's fifth album. The song's title and lyrics, as well as the year it was released (1970), have led many to assume that the song is about the Vietnam War. The fact that previous Creedence Clearwater Revival songs such as "Fortunate Son" were protests of the Vietnam War added to this belief.
However, in a 2016 interview, Fogerty explained that the song is actually about the proliferation of guns in the United States.
The thing I wanted to talk about was gun control and the proliferation of guns... I remember reading around that time that there was one gun for every man, woman and child in America, which I found staggering. So somewhere in the song, I think I said, '200 million guns are loaded.' Not that anyone else has the answer, but I did not have the answer to the question; I just had the question. I just thought it was disturbing that it was such a jungle for our citizens just to walk around in our own country at least having to be aware that there are so many private guns owned by some responsible and maybe many irresponsible people.
The song's opening and closing both featured jungle sound effects created by, according to the band's bassist Stu Cook, "lots of backwards recorded guitar and piano." The harmonica part on the song was played by John Fogerty. The song was also Tom Fogerty's favorite CCR song: "My all-time favorite Creedence tune was 'Run Through the Jungle'. . . . 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."
The song was released as the flipside of a double sided single, along with "Up Around the Bend," that was released in April 1970. Counted as one chart entry by Billboard's chart methodology, the single reached number four on the Pop Singles chart (the band's sixth single to reach the top ten), and eventually was certified gold by the RIAA, for sales of over one million copies.
The song was later the subject of controversy when Saul Zaentz, the boss of CCR's record label, Fantasy Records, which owns the distribution and publishing rights to the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival, brought a series of lawsuits against John Fogerty, including a claim that the music from Fogerty's 1984 song "The Old Man Down the Road" was too similar to "Run Through the Jungle." Zaentz won some of his claims against Fogerty, but lost on the copyright issue (Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty). The judge found that an artist cannot plagiarize himself. After winning the case, Fogerty sued Zaentz for the cost of defending himself against the copyright infringement claim. In such (copyright) cases, prevailing defendants seeking recompense were bound to show that original suit was frivolous or made in bad faith.
Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc. became precedent when the United States Supreme Court (1993) overturned lower court rulings and awarded attorneys' fees to Fogerty, without Fogerty having to show that Zaentz's original suit was frivolous.
In Popular Culture
"Run Through the Jungle" has appeared in films like Air America (1990), My Girl (1991), Rudy (1993), The Big Lebowski (1998), Radio Arrow (1998), Tropic Thunder (2008), and Kong: Skull Island (2017). It has also appeared in most video games that depict the Vietnam War.
The song has been covered by The Gun Club, Bruce Springsteen, Georgia Satellites, 8 Eyed Spy, Killdozer, Link Wray, The Cramps, Jeff Healey, and Los Lobos. In 2015 the Ukrainian rock band Kamyaniy Gist covered the song in Ukrainian for the album 70/80.