January 03, 2012

King Crimson - The Court of the Crimson King (1969)

Eighteen people have been able to claim to be members of this band, but Robert Fripp is the only one to be there from start to finish. They were formed in 1968 from the ashes of Giles, Giles and Fripp and featured Greg Lake of future ELP fame in their earliest years. They never garnered much radio airtime, but they did achieve a cult following.

This song comes from the group’s first album, In the Court of the Crimson King. Pete Townshend of The Who referred to the album as “an uncanny masterpiece” and it is often seen as one of the founding albums of progressive rock. This song, the last track on the album, was the only song released by the group to reach the charts in the US.

album cover

King Crimson - The Court of the Crimson King (1969)

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The rusted chains of prison moons
Are shattered by the sun
I walk a road- horizons change
The tournament's begun
The purple piper plays his tune
The choir softly sing
Three lullabies in an ancient tongue
For the court of the Crimson King

The keeper of the city keys
Put shutters on the dreams
I wait outside the pilgrim's door
With insufficient schemes
The Black Queen chants
The funeral march
The cracked brass bells will ring
To summon back the fire witch
To the court of the Crimson King

The gardener plants an evergreen
Whilst trampling on a flower
I chase the wind of a prism ship
To taste the sweet and sour
The pattern juggler lifts his hand
The orchestra begin
As slowly turns the grinding wheel
In the court of the Crimson King

On soft gray mornings, widows cry
The wise men share a joke
I run to grasp divining signs
To satisfy the hoax
The yellow jester does not play
But gently pulls the strings
And smiles as the puppets dance
In the court of the Crimson King


  1. I must admit my favourite Crim's song was always "In The Wake of Poseidon", but it was wonderful to hear this one again. Any chance of "Cat Food"?

  2. This song is definitely my favorite by them, by far. I probably wouldn't do "Cat Food" as I only think it's fair. More than likely if this group were to appear again, I'd choose "Peace: A Theme" from In the Wake of Poseidon or "Prelude: Song of the Gulls" from Islands. Good stuff!