– John Lovell, Jr., Black Song: The Forge and The Flame.
Some years back, while I was in high school, FM radio still held the promise of surprise, along with a keen sense of artistic danger always lurking. There was the prospect of discovering something you might not have the good fortune to hear again. Late one night, on Toronto's CHUM-FM, I first encountered Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Effigy" from their 1969 album, Willie and the Poor Boys. This epic song, which concluded the first side of their fourth LP, described an act of mob violence without identifying the mob (or the subject of their anger), and it had all the insistence of a news bulletin interrupting regular programming. With a portentous melody built upon the foreboding chords of a dirge, "Effigy" carried some of the same apprehension that the news reporter's commentary did in Orson Welles's famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast just before the Martians started vaporizing the citizens of Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Listening to "Effigy" that evening before bed, I kept expecting the song to conclude just like that news reporter's broadcast did – with death – where the mob would ultimately catch the singer before he could finish documenting the crimes he was witnessing. Songwriter and singer John Fogerty continually outpaced the urgency of what he was seeing until all that was left in his dying questions was why this was all taking place. His chiming guitar, with the clawing force of a chainsaw, soon cut through those questions just like the Martians' vapour ray did through Grover's Mill. His fears quickly faded into the long night as if he'd been finally caught and silenced by the mob. And I never heard "Effigy" on the radio again.