“King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” is a song from their 1969 debut album In the Court of the Crimson King. In this first part of our two-part deep dive into the history and impact of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” the band’s co-founders recall how they wrote the legendary song, as well as how it affected them onstage and on LP when it was new.
Lyrics of “King Crimson 21st Century Schizoid Man”
The lyrics for “21st Century Schizoid Man,” by Peter Sinfield, consist mostly of disconnected phrases with a series of images. The three lyrics provide a clear structure for these representations. The song denounces the Vietnam War with the lines “Politicians’ funeral pyre/Innocence raped with napalm fire.” The following lines are references to the French fable The Monkey and the Cat, while “death seed” alludes to what Sinfield refers to as the “agricultural devastation” brought on by Agent Orange. The fourth and final line of each poem is the song’s title, which may be a phrase or a single image in length.
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