Effigy Lyrics - Creedence Clearwater Revival
Review The Song (14)
I saw a fire burning on
The palace lawn
O'er the land
The humble subjects watched in mixed
Who is burnin'?
Who is burnin'?
Who is burnin'?
Who is burnin'?
I saw the fire spreadin' to
The palace door
Weren't keepin' quiet
I saw the fire spreadin' to
The country side
In the mornin'
Few were left to watch
The ashes die
Writer: J. C. FOGERTY
Lyrics © CONCORD MUSIC GROUP, INC
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the real meaning of the lyrics | Reviewer: WMW | 4/1/14
This is a Viet Nam war protest song as the lyric "Silent majority Weren't keepin' quiet Anymore" is a direct reference to the bullshit President Nixon was spouting about there was a so called "silent majority" in the USA that actually support the war, as opposed to the growing number of protestors outside of the White House (the Palace Walls) that were burning Nixon in effigy practically everyday...
Not about politics | Reviewer: Linda | 4/25/13
I've read the reviews on this forum but none of them mentioned what I always thought the song was about -- racial equality . The effigy mentioned in the lyrics, to me, calls to mind burning crosses. I wonder if the social commentary contained in the song was about the violent struggle for equal rights for all brothers of all colors ...and that anything less than a peaceful revelution to accomplish it would result in mass destruction and a lot of collateral damage
My Interpretation | Reviewer: Chris | 2/26/13
I can understand why this song has so many different varied interpretations, although I feel that many of these explanations seem to ignore the last verse.
I don't think this song is about one particular political event and I wouldn't categorize it as a protest song.
In my opinion this is a social commentary on violent revolution, warning of the dangers of that course of action.
The last verse warns of how when violence is used to overthrow a regime, that same violence often subsequently spills over and gets used against the population. This can take the form of brutal oppression by the new regime or the state of chaos that can result in the aftermath of the violent overthrow of the state.
These lyrics could easily apply to many different violent revolution that have happened throughout the course of history. The French Revolution, for example, or for a more recent example consider Libya and possibly Syria in the future (if that government falls).
The line in the first verse about how "The humble subjects watched in mixed emotion" is also important. In my opinion it refers to people's understandable reluctance to participate in a violent revolution, even if they are not fond of the current leader, because they are aware that this will cause bloodshed and instability and may ultimately result in a more oppressive regime taking control.
Whatever the meaning of the lyrics it's a great song and one of my favourites from CCR.
Don't put it in a box... | Reviewer: Daniel K | 9/19/12
The themes of this song are too large and universal to be limited by some era of US policy or specific event. What I like about the song is that I don't get an overt sense of moral judgment. The song expresses a struggle without clearly condemning either side. It simply describes in dark and weighty words, riffs, and drums the tragic saga of human experience. I feel sorrow when I listen and danger. But I don't feel RIGHT or WRONG.
Amazing Lyrical Punch | Reviewer: Anonymous | 7/16/12
Whatever the initial inspiration of the song, the lyrics perfectly conjure a detached and feeble-minded ruler who doesn't grasp the breadth and depth of protest against his power. The question in the chorus - "Who is burning?" - is telling: the ruler can not understand that he is the object of such vilification. Some suggest it was written about anti-Nixon protests, and it fits - Nixon for many is the archetype of the ego-centric despot who believes he acts in the best interest of 'his' people, and can not see that his people occupy a real world beset by problems his policies only inflame. The lyrics of the last stanza, "Last night I saw the fires spreading / to the countryside" to me seems to speak of reaction and retaliation against protesting citizens... in the first two stanzas, the fires get closer to the seat of power; in the last the fires spread to those protesting and "few are left alive." An amazing commentary on the blindness and evils of those in high places. On a lighter note, the most impressive version I have heard of this song in Gov't Mule's version they do live. Really brings the lyrics to life.
Can You Back Up What you Claim? | Reviewer: Daughter of a Vietnam Vet | 6/4/12
This is a remarkable song! No wonder my dad and other Vietnam Vets love this band.
As the old saying goes, "I'll believe it when I see it." So can any of you provide reputable, credible sources to back up what you claim, such as proof of CCR stating the meaning behind this song?
Sorry folks, Wikipedia is NOT that credible.
Look up the history of the Bohemian Grove | Reviewer: boheemian grover | 1/29/12
This song is in reference to the burning of effigies at Bohemian Grove, where our leaders gather in secret.
The silent majority refers to the population at large, being ruled by these evil men.
Uncle Tupelo Version | Reviewer: Chris Cortese | 9/20/11
"Effigy" is one great song. The CCR version is definitive. Another version that is almost equal to the original is the version from Uncle Tupelo. Whatever the politics behind the song, it is a moving piece of songwrititng.
effigy1 | Reviewer: rotiv | 3/16/11
Effigy is the finest song JC ever wrote, but he refused to let it be shortened for radio and thus didn't receive much fame. This song greatly influenced Neil Young who basically copied the sound in many of his early seventies releases.
Violent Revolution, not Vietnam or nuclear war. | Reviewer: Jamie Winkelmannð | 3/6/11
"Effigy" is the last song on CCR's album Willy and the Poor Boys (1969) and is my favorite song of theirs. It's intense and overtly political. I love the guitar intro, and Fogarty's guitar solo starting at ~2:15 is simple and raw. He comes back with his guitar in a big way starting at ~4:05. So intense!
This song made a deep impression on me when I first encountered it at the start of my senior year in high school, with its unambiguous call for bloody revolution against the U.S. Government. Fogarty pulls no punches as he calls for the violent overthrow of the Nixon administration.
The "palace" he refers to in the first and second verses is, of course, the White House. By the use of this one word Fogarty says so much, conjuring up, as it does, images of kings and aristocracy, wealth and power concentrated in the hands of the elite few. With this one word Fogarty is saying that the notion of his country being "for, by, and of the
people" is a sham, and that democracy (rule by the people) is a fiction. Fogarty reinforces this idea by referring to the people as "humble subjects", as one would find in a monarchy, not the citizens of a democracy. Fogarty makes an implied comparison between subjects, who are acted upon by their rulers, and citizens, agents who are actively involved in their own governance. His use of the term "silent majority" is both a clear reference and a direct response to a speech Richard Nixon had made earlier in the year. He condemns the United States as a plutocracy, ruled by the wealthy few, and suggests that the people can take back power only by direct and violent revolution against the government. Fogarty says so much in just three short verses!
The first verse describes citizen protests at the White House; the second verse tells of the start of the revolution in Washington, D.C.; and the third references the spread of violent and bloody struggle across the land. The chorus and song title, of course, refer to citizen-protesters burning Nixon in effigy.
This song still produces an intense and visceral reaction in me even today.
I was fortunate to catch John Fogarty live a few years ago from great seats: third row, center aisle, orchestra pit. He was cheated out of the rights to all of the songs in the CCR catalog, and so he couldn't play them, just his solo material and traditional songs. It was great, though, and he switched guitars several times, at one point using one with a turquoise pastel body. His backup singers were female gospel singers, and he did some gospel songs, too.
I'm surprised | Reviewer: Tore Eriksson | 1/11/11
I'm surprised by the suggestions "Vietnam War" and "Nuclear Holocaust". None of those interpretations compute IMHO. But then again, my mother tongue isn't English. But ever since I was in my early teens (35 yeasrs ago), I've slways viewed this song as a swamp rock paraphase on Strange Fruit.
Morbid and powerful | Reviewer: Dante Wolfe | 12/29/10
This song has nothing to do directly with Vietnam, this song was written about nuclear war, one of the biggest scares at the time. If you've studied nuclear holocaust as much as me, (and I hope you haven't since it's really morbid), then you'd really be able to feel how powerful this song is. He's talking about nuclear fires, and then rioting and unrest.
Hauntingly awesome | Reviewer: Go Fogey | 10/21/09
CCR lyrics, in my opinion, are certainly in the normal folk / country story telling method.
When I hear this song, I certainly get a sense of a dark night lit up in flames. Though mostly metaphorical it still conjures up some imagery.
The almost every chord struck on the guitar riff, especially the heavy thunky "WOW" just before he sings "effigy" in the chorus are played so forcefully it would make an electronic tuner break with discordance. you can feel the anger, the passion in that strum.
CCR's best antiwar tune (Vietnam) | Reviewer: Shafter McKnight | 8/21/08
Creedence Clearwater Revival was not a counter-culture band in the same sense as say Jefferson Airplane,Grateful Dead, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash Yet they were one of the few bands at the time to write songs that were a social commentary such as "Fortunate Son". "Run Through the Jungle", "Don't Look Now (It Ain't You or Me)". I doubt the song ever got much airplay, and it was one of those "forgotten" tracks. It was recorded as a part of the song set of "Willie and the Poorboys". Fogerty provides a rather intricate guitar solo with his gritty-sounding Rickenbacker guitar.
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