The Court of the Crimson King – Unveiling the Prophetic Visions of a Classic Prog Anthem


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for King Crimson's The Court of the Crimson King at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Shattered Chains of Conformity
  5. Sonic Storytellers: The Purple Piper and the Black Queen
  6. The Hidden Meaning Behind the Court’s Majesty
  7. Memorable Lines: The Wisdom and Wit of Jesters
  8. A Tapestry of Timeless Expressions

Lyrics

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

(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)

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

(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)

(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)

(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)

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

(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)

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 gentle pulls the strings
And smiles as the puppets dance
In the court of the crimson king

(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)

(Ah-ah-ah)
(Ah-ah-ah)

Full Lyrics

Within the rich tapestry of progressive rock, ‘The Court of the Crimson King’ by King Crimson stands out as an emblematic beacon of the genre’s ambitiously poetic sensibilities. Released in 1969 on the album of the same name, the song encapsulates a wave of refined storytelling set against a complex musical backdrop, etching itself into the collective consciousness of rock enthusiasts and maverick music lovers alike.

The thematic gravitas and symphonic grandeur of the title track offer listeners a cryptic narrative, a sonic experience draped in allegory and mysticism. Deciphering such a text is an exercise in cultural archaeology, unearthing layers of meaning that cut to the heart of a revolutionary era in music that influences its admirers to this day.

The Shattered Chains of Conformity

The powerful imagery of ‘The rusted chains of prison moons are shattered by the sun’ leaps out from the opening lines, painting a picture of liberation and change. Here, King Crimson captures the zeitgeist of an age ready to break free from the societal strictures of the past, just as the bands of the late 1960s were shattering musical conventions.

The road with changing horizons and the beginning tournament evoke a journey of transcendence and challenge. The immense cultural shifts and the birth of new artistic movements are mirrored by this awakening, symbolizing a readiness to embrace a new dawn of creative expression.

Sonic Storytellers: The Purple Piper and the Black Queen

Intrigue is woven throughout the verses with characters like the purple piper and the black queen, who seem to spring from a medieval tableau. The piper with his tune represents the artist as a catalyst for change, serenading the court with the transformative power of music.

The black queen’s funeral march and the summoning of the fire witch speak to the recurring themes of death and rebirth. These passages may allude to the dying of old ideologies in the face of revolutionary ideas, as the echoing bells of change ring out in an era of political and social upheaval.

The Hidden Meaning Behind the Court’s Majesty

At first glance, the Court of the Crimson King is drenched in the lavishness of royalty and pageantry. However, beneath the veneer, it serves as an allegory for the fallible nature of power structures and the cycle of destruction and creation that plagues human history.

The song’s cryptic court may symbolize the temptations of authority and the consequences of yielding to its seductive dance. As each verse parades a different aspect of the court’s life, listeners are reminded that beneath the splendor often lies corruption and the potential for renewal.

Memorable Lines: The Wisdom and Wit of Jesters

In the latter part of the song, ‘The yellow jester does not play but gently pulls the strings,’ which might reflect a commentary on the illusion of power and the hidden manipulators who shape society. Jesters were once considered wise and cunning, often the only ones who could speak truth to power without consequence.

Though the jester’s role is subtle, his influence over the kings and courts of old – much like media and public opinion today – yields a formidable force shaping the events that unfold within the ivory towers of the powerful.

A Tapestry of Timeless Expressions

More than half a century after its release, ‘The Court of the Crimson King’ remains an icon of progressive rock, a cornerstone that continues to inspire musicians and audiences alike. Its lyrical complexity and orchestral depth are not mere musical notes but a mosaic of the epoch that birthed it.

The song’s ability to resonate across generations speaks to the universal truths nestled within its melodies – the quest for freedom, the questioning of authority, and the intricate performance that is the human experience. It’s a work that not only stands the test of time but also unravels new meanings with each and every listen.

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