Meaning of Starless by King Crimson & The Story Behind

ELP, Yes, Foreinger, UK, Genesis, Roxy Music, Uriah Heep, Asia, Wishbone Ash – all these cult bands are united by the fact that former members of King Crimson played in them. Impressive, despite the continuous changes, the composition of the “Raspberry King” produced no less impressive work, and the group is rightfully considered one of the best in prog rock.

Before Robert Fripp disbanded King Crimson “forever”, he, in company with John Wetton and Bill Bruford, recorded the album Red, which was very highly acclaimed by music critics and musicians. By the way, Kurt Cobain considered Red the greatest album of all time. Fripp himself (the only permanent member of the group) decided to take a “back seat” in the decision-making process in the recording of the album.

The story of the creation of the song Starless – King Crimson

Perhaps it was largely because of this that the album featured the final song of King Crimson in the 70s, Starless, which Fripp did not approve of as the title track of the previous album. The song, originally written by John Wetton, acquired a lengthy piece based on Bruford’s bass riff.

The text has been changed twice:

  • for the first time under the concerts of the spring of 1974,
  • the second time while recording an album in the summer of that year, with the help of the band’s in-house lyricist Richard Palmer-James.

Since King Crimson’s previous album Starless and Bible Black had a title track of the same name, the title had to be shortened to Starless, although the chorus contains the lyrics “…starless and Bible black”, which were not on the instrumental from the previous record.

Recording and release

The recording of Starless (as well as the entire Red album) featured former members of King Crimson as guest musicians.

Echoes from the band’s early work can be found in this complex composition. For example, the opening section is reminiscent of Epitaph’s style from their debut album, while in the middle section of the composition you can hear the increase in dynamics and tone in 13/4, which is reminiscent of The Talking Drum. The instrumental part gradually grows, its plot captures and does not let go from the very first seconds.

By the end of this jazz-rock odyssey, all musicians are playing at maximum speed, and King Crimson is working at the limit of their capabilities for some of the most powerful minutes in the history of rock music. And this despite the fact that the composition itself is depressive and saturated with despondency and sadness.

In addition to the 12-minute composition Starless, there is an abridged version lasting four and a half minutes. It was released in 2004 on The 21st Century Guide To King Crimson.

Meaning of Starless – King Crimson

Equally, this is also the merit of the text, in which with each act the longing expands exponentially. The story begins with a vivid picture, where the sun’s rays rush to illuminate the life of a young man, but passing through the eyes, fade to black in the skull. And the story ends with the fact that everything around is drowning in this darkness, and hopelessness is the only companion of the hero.

Robert Fripp’s guitar part can be considered a full-fledged logical continuation of the story from the text, which, no worse than words, allows us to feel the state of the protagonist.

Video of Starless – King Crimson

Let’s watch the music video for the song Starless, filmed during the live performance of King Crimson.

Starless Lyrics by King Crimson

Sundown dazzling day
Gold through my eyes
But my eyes turned within
Only see
Starless and bible black

old friend charity
Cruel twisted smile
And the smile signals emptiness
For me
Starless and bible black

ice blue silver sky
Fades into gray
To a gray hope that oh years to be
Starless and bible black

Lyrics Starless by King Crimson Alternate

Dazzling sunset shines
Gold through my eyes
But my eyes are turned inward
And they only see
Starless, biblical darkness.

Favor of an old friend
That fake, forced smile
And that smile signals emptiness
For me
Starless biblical darkness.

Blue ice, silver sky
Fading in the dark.
Oh, how many years hope to be in the dark
Starless biblical darkness.

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