Well, here’s an embarrassing blind spot.
I know, objectively, that Robert Fripp is a guitar genius who has had a long and storied career, and just for his work his work on “Heroes” alone, should be praised to the skies. But I could never get into King Crimson.
I couldn’t get into King Crimson during the original incarnation with the ever-changing group of famous bassist vocalists; I couldn’t get into the 1980s version w/ Adrian Belew, and I didn’t even know that there was a 1990s incarnation until I looked them up doing research for this post.
While I guarantee you that somebody out reading this right now has followed — and loved them — for that entire run, it’s just not me. And I might even like some of what I’ve never heard, but honestly, it’s just never occurred to me to even try.
That said, I went out and got In The Court of the Crimson King just after I graduated from high school, because repeated exposure to “21st Century Schizoid Man” on the radio had eventually worn me down, and why not?
With the hard rock opening, distorted Greg Lake vocals and long long long rock-jazz (as opposed to jazz-rock) controlled freak-out section — featuring not just Fripp, but multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald — “21st Century Schizoid Man” sounded like it had been beamed backwards in time from the still faraway titular century.
And given that, in the 21st century (which is where we are living now) everybody’s attention is continually — hang on, I need to check Twitter to see if any weird shit has happened in the past few minutes — torn in a million different directions, even Peter Sinfield’s lyrics (OK, at least the song title) have a certain resonance.
No wonder Kanye used it as a centerpiece of his greatest song.
“21st Century Schizoid Man”
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