21st Century Schizoid Man

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"21st Century Schizoid Man"
21st Century Schizoid Man.jpg
Single by King Crimson
from the album In the Court of the Crimson King
A-side "Epitaph"
Released12 October 1969 (1969-10-12)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded1 & 20–21 August 1969
Label Island
Lyricist(s) Peter Sinfield
Producer(s) King Crimson
King Crimson singles chronology
"The Night Watch"
"21st Century Schizoid Man"
"Matte Kudasai"
In the Court of the Crimson King track listing
5 tracks
Side one
  1. "21st Century Schizoid Man"
  2. "I Talk to the Wind"
  3. "Epitaph"
Side two
  1. "Moonchild"
  2. "The Court of the Crimson King"

"21st Century Schizoid Man" is a song by the progressive rock band King Crimson from their debut album In the Court of the Crimson King .

Progressive rock is a broad genre of rock music that developed in the United Kingdom and United States throughout the mid to late 1960s. Initially termed "progressive pop", the style was an outgrowth of psychedelic bands who abandoned standard pop traditions in favour of instrumentation and compositional techniques more frequently associated with jazz, folk, or classical music. Additional elements contributed to its "progressive" label: lyrics were more poetic, technology was harnessed for new sounds, music approached the condition of "art", and the studio, rather than the stage, became the focus of musical activity, which often involved creating music for listening, not dancing.

King Crimson British art rock band

King Crimson are an English progressive rock band formed in London in 1968. King Crimson have been influential both on the early 1970s progressive rock movement and numerous contemporary artists. The band has undergone numerous formations throughout its history of which 22 musicians have been members; since October 2017 it has consisted of Robert Fripp, Jakko Jakszyk, Tony Levin, Mel Collins, Pat Mastelotto, Gavin Harrison, Jeremy Stacey and Bill Rieflin. Fripp is the only consistent member of the group and is considered the band's leader and driving force. The band has earned a large cult following. They were ranked No. 87 on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock. Although considered to be a seminal progressive rock band, they have often distanced themselves from the genre: as well as influencing several generations of progressive and psychedelic rock bands, they have also been an influence on subsequent alternative metal, hardcore and experimental/noise musicians.

<i>In the Court of the Crimson King</i> debut album by King Crimson

In the Court of the Crimson King is the debut album from the English rock band King Crimson, released on 10 October 1969 on Island Records in England and Atlantic Records in America. The album is one of the first and most influential of the progressive rock genre, where the band largely departed from the blues influences that rock music was founded upon and combined elements of jazz, classical, and symphonic music.


Lyrical content

The lyrics of "21st Century Schizoid Man" were written by Peter Sinfield and consist chiefly of disconnected phrases which present a series of images. All three verses follow a set pattern in presenting these images. The first line of each verse presents two relatively vague images (e.g. "iron claw", "death seed"). The second line is a single image, often more specific than the first two, and the third line approaches an actual sentence. The fourth and last line of each verse is the song's title.

Peter Sinfield British poet and musician

Peter John Sinfield is an English poet and songwriter, most famously known as the lyricist and co-founder member of early incarnations of King Crimson, whose debut album In the Court of the Crimson King is one of the most influential progressive rock albums released.

The song makes reference to the Vietnam War with the lyrics "Politicians' funeral pyre/Innocence raped with napalm fire". Before a live performance of the song on 14 December 1969, heard on the live album Epitaph , Robert Fripp remarked that the song was dedicated to "an American political personality whom we all know and love dearly. His name is Spiro Agnew."

Vietnam War 1955–1975 conflict in Vietnam

The Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War, and in Vietnam as the Resistance War Against America or simply the American War, was a conflict in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975, with U.S. involvement ending in 1973. It was the second of the Indochina Wars and was officially fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam. North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, China, and other communist allies; South Vietnam was supported by the United States, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and other anti-communist allies. The war is considered a Cold War-era proxy war from some US perspectives. It lasted some 19 years and included the Laotian Civil War and the Cambodian Civil War, resulting in all three countries becoming communist states in 1975. The outcome of the war humiliated the United States and diminished its reputation in the world.

Napalm gelling agent for use in incendiary devices

Napalm is an incendiary mixture of a gelling agent and a volatile petrochemical. The title is a portmanteau of the names of two of the constituents of the original thickening and gelling agents: co-precipitated aluminium salts of naphthenic and palmitic acids. Napalm B is the more modern version of napalm and, although distinctly different in its chemical composition, is often referred to simply as "napalm".

<i>Epitaph</i> (King Crimson album) live 4CD set of concert performances and radio sessions by the band King Crimson

Epitaph is a live 4-CD set of concert performances and radio sessions from 1969 by the band King Crimson, released in 1997. Volumes 1 and 2 were available in retail shops, and the set included a flyer with instructions on how to obtain Volumes 3 and 4 via mail-order. In 2006, volumes 3 and 4 were released independently as a 2-disc set via DGM.

Musical structure

Clocking at nearly seven and a half minutes, the song is notable for its heavily distorted vocals sung by Greg Lake, and its instrumental middle section, called "Mirrors". Most of the song is in either 4/4 or 6/8 time, save for the end of the song, which is in free time. Fripp explained his guitar solo to Guitar Player magazine in 1974: "It's all picked down-up. The basis of the picking technique is to strike down on the on-beat and up on the off-beat. Then one must learn to reverse that. I'll generally use a downstroke on the down-beat except where I wish to accent a phrase in a particular way or create a certain kind of tension by confusing accents, in which case I might begin a run on the upstroke." [1] British Prime Minister Tony Blair praised the song and especially the guitar solo. [1] The song encompasses the heavy metal, [2] [3] jazz-rock and progressive rock genres. [4] The atonal solo was rated number 82 in Guitar World's list of the Top 100 Greatest Guitar Solos in 2008. [5] Louder Sound ranked the solo at no. 56 in its "100 greatest guitar solos in rock" poll. [6]

Greg Lake English bassist, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and producer

Gregory Stuart Lake was an English bassist, guitarist, singer, songwriter and producer. He gained prominence as a founding member of the progressive rock bands King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP).

Free time is a type of musical anti-meter free from musical time and time signature. It is used when a piece of music has no discernible beat. Instead, the rhythm is intuitive and free-flowing. In standard musical notation, there are seven ways in which a piece is indicated to be in free time:

  1. There is simply no time signature displayed. This is common in old vocal music such as Gaelic psalms.
  2. There is no time signature but the direction 'Free time' is written above the stave.
  3. There is a time signature and the direction 'Free time' written above.
  4. The word FREE is written downwards across the stave. This is mostly used when the piece changes to free time after having had a time signature.
  5. Instead of a time signature, a large X is written on the stave.
  6. Note heads alone are used, without time values
  7. The passage is marked "recitativo" or "parlando"
<i>Guitar Player</i> magazine

Guitar Player is an American popular magazine for guitarists, founded in 1967 in San Jose, California, United States. It contains articles, interviews, reviews and lessons of an eclectic collection of artists, genres and products. It has been in print since late 1967. The magazine is currently edited by Christopher Scapilitti.


King Crimson continued to perform it in their live act after Greg Lake left King Crimson in 1970 to form Emerson, Lake & Palmer. It appeared on five live albums from different versions of the band, first sung by Lake on Epitaph , then by Boz Burrell on Earthbound (1972), by John Wetton, on USA (1974), by Adrian Belew on Vrooom Vrooom (2001, recorded in 1996), and by Jakko Jakszyk on 2014 Live EP. In 1993, Emerson, Lake & Palmer recorded a version for their 1993 box set The Return of the Manticore (this version is abridged, finishing before the long instrumental passage featured in the original). Greg Lake performed the song on his 1981 solo tour with Gary Moore on guitar.

Emerson, Lake & Palmer musical group from England

Emerson, Lake & Palmer (ELP) were an English progressive rock supergroup formed in London in 1970. The band consisted of keyboardist Keith Emerson; singer, bassist, guitarist and producer Greg Lake; and drummer and percussionist Carl Palmer. With nine RIAA-certified gold record albums in the US, and an estimated 48 million records sold worldwide, they were one of the most popular and commercially successful progressive rock bands in the 1970s, with a musical sound including adaptations of classical music with jazz and symphonic rock elements, dominated by Emerson's flamboyant use of the Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer, and piano.

Boz Burrell British singer and bassist

Raymond "Boz" Burrell was an English musician. Originally a vocalist and guitarist, Burrell is best known for his bass playing and work with the bands King Crimson and Bad Company. He died of a heart attack in Spain on 21 September 2006 aged 60.

<i>Earthbound</i> (King Crimson album) King Crimson album

Earthbound is a live album by the band King Crimson, released in 1972 as a budget record shortly after the line-up that recorded it had broken up. It contains the band's first official live release of their signature song "21st Century Schizoid Man", and an extended live version of their 1970 non-LP B-side "Groon". It also contains two improvised tracks with scat vocals from Boz Burrell.


Ian McDonald (musician) English musician, a founder of King Crimson

Ian McDonald is an English multi-instrumental musician, best known as a founder member of progressive rock band King Crimson, formed in 1969, and of the hard rock band Foreigner in 1976. He is well known as a rock session musician, predominantly as a saxophonist. He also plays keyboards, flute, vibraphone and guitar.

Robert Fripp English guitarist, composer and record producer

Robert Fripp is an English guitarist, composer and record producer. As a guitarist for the progressive rock band King Crimson, Fripp has been the only member to have played in all of King Crimson's line-ups from their inception in the late 1960s to the present. He has also worked extensively as a studio musician, notably with singer David Bowie on the albums "Heroes" and Scary Monsters , Brian Eno, David Sylvian and contributed sounds to the Windows Vista operating system. His complete discography lists more than seven hundred releases over four decades.

Michael Rex Giles is an English drummer, best known as a co-founder of King Crimson in 1969. Prior to the formation of King Crimson, he also co-founded the short-lived Giles, Giles & Fripp with his brother, Peter, and Robert Fripp the previous year.

Other appearances

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  1. 1 2 Stuart Jeffries. "Rock on, Tony". the Guardian.
  2. Fricke, David. "King Crimson: The Power To Believe : Music Reviews : Rolling Stone" at the Wayback Machine (archived April 25, 2009). web.archive.org. Archived from the original.
  3. Buckley 2003, p. 477, "Opening with the cataclysmic heavy-metal of '21st Century Schizoid Man', and closing with the cathedral-sized title track..."
  4. Huey, Steve. Song Review by Steve Huey at AllMusic . Retrieved January 10, 2016.
  5. "100 Greatest Guitar Solos: 51-100". Guitar World.
  6. "The 100 greatest guitar solos in rock". Louder Sound . 28 September 2018. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  7. Daniel Kreps (2010-05-28). "Kanye West Samples King Crimson on Raging New Track Power | Music News". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2012-06-29.