"Effigy," written by Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty, is the last track on the Willy and the Poor Boys album. This was the fourth studio album released and the third platinum album for CCR, riding the peak of their popularity in 1969.
This song is a good example of the "roots rock" style that CCR helped to pioneer. While Bob Dylan is largely credited with starting the roots movement in 1966, only a handful of bands followed that lead, while the rest turned to folk, blues, or psychedelia. CCR fits into the niche within the country-influenced roots rock genre in between The Byrds, Tom Petty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Eagles, and of course The Flying Burrito Brothers. By sticking to the basics while everybody else was jumping on the experimentation bandwagon, they could be progressive and anachronistic at the same time.
Another thing that set CCR apart was the tight cohesion of the band members. While other groups swapped members between each other like so many kids playing Red Rover, CCR remained their own little island of Fogerty, Fogerty, Clifford, and Cook, with the only change being when John Fogerty split, after which they were down to a trio. Furthermore, they had considerable influence for a band that was only releasing albums together five years!
CCR drummer Doug Clifford said that this is a political song through and through. "It's pointing the finger at the Nixon administration when they were crumbling," he explained in Bad Moon Rising: The Unofficial History of Creedence Clearwater Revivial. "The dark period, if you will."
An effigy is a model of an actual person that is made for the purpose of being destroyed as an act of protest or expression of anger.
The "palace lawn" is referring to the lawn of the White House. In Fortunate Son: My Life, My Music, Fogerty affirms Nixon as the inspiration for his song, calling the former president "a schmuck." The specific event that triggered Fogerty to write the song happened October 15, 1969, when millions of people marched around the world to protest the Vietnam War. Nixon completely dismissed the event. As Fogerty remembers it, the former president said, "Nothing you do here today will have any affect on me. I'm going back inside to watch the football game." That dismissive attitude enraged Fogerty at the time and, judging from the writing in Fortunate Son, enrages him still.