21st Century Schizoid Man – King Crimson

The first time I saw King Crimson was at Hyde Park Free Concert as support for the Rolling Stones way back in 1969. I’d been going to those free concerts for a while. They started as a gathering of a few hundred freaks with some great bands and grew into these mass concerts with the Stones and Blind Faith.

It was supposedly King Crimson’s debut live performance. Quite how they landed that gig was unclear. They were playing along with stalwarts such as Roy Harper, Family and Pete Brown’s Battered Ornaments.

I preferred those Hyde Park gatherings at the beginning but I was very impressed with King Crimson – particularly this song. I thought it was very powerful.

I thought its poetry captured the madness of war and the crazy hypocrisy of modern life.

“21st Century Schizoid Man”

Cat’s foot iron claw
Neuro-surgeons scream for more
At paranoia’s poison door
Twenty first century schizoid man

Blood rack barbed wire
Politicians’ funeral pyre
Innocents raped with napalm fire
Twenty first century schizoid man

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets’ starving children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man

8 thoughts on “21st Century Schizoid Man – King Crimson

  1. With also Third Ear Band, Screw and Alexis Korner’s New Church.
    You are mistaken with Pete Brown – he wasn’t there as he had been fired the previous day and his place taken by Chris Spedding on vocals. There were billed as simply Battered Ornaments. Roy Harper just played one song between equipment changes so didn’t actually get to do a set. He wasn’t right for this sort of gig anyway and more of a nuisance really.
    King Crimson were chosen due to their reputation following London club gigs in the Marquee. 21st SM was the first song in their set which is available on CD.
    I was there.

    1. Thank you Tony.
      I don’t remember anything about Screw and only dimly about the Battered Ornaments. I have great memories of them playing with Pete Brown on other occasions though. All told it was a great day out but just about everyone played a substandard set. Family were nowhere near as good as I’d seen them before and the Stones were great to see but sounded shoddy. The Third Ear Band weren’t really suited for the event though I always liked their ethereal classical improvisational stuff in smaller venues.
      I missed the intimacy of the smaller events where the great Roy Harper compered and played and there weren’t the huge crowds and pressure of a big event. It was more of an opportunity to meet up and share.

      1. Third Ear Band I’ll have you know also played on the Blind Faith bill in `69 and again with Pink Floyd in `70, so somebody at Blackhill thought they were three times right!
        I knew all these people and bands. The LSE was where it really happened and the centrepoint of let’s say some of the more intelligent scene makers. As for the concept of sharing, what strikes me most looking back with a pragmatic eye, what a load of egotists there were with nothing but the most empty, vacuous and plainly silly ideas and chat all spouted with a loud voice. My memories of Harper don’t quite match yours as I always thought he was a bit of an under prepared ramshackle mess. All I remember from him were loads of excuses, sorry for this, sorry for that. Shut up and just play the song, man! He was a stage-hogger and always outstayed his welcome. Terribly tiresome fellow.

      2. Tom – well my memories are somewhat different. I had great fun with friends. There was such a great positive vibe and a lot of openness and laughter. It was always good to mix with the bands and chat.
        As for Roy – he was a bit ramshackle but what a force.

      3. Tom, Tony, what’s in a name?
        I thought just too many people were going through the motions and it became a trend, there wasn’t really anything of a true free spirit and it was so contrived. Most of them, for me, were slightly intellectually challenged egotists.

      4. Sorry Tony – I was dealing with a Tom at the time.
        Shows how different experiences can be doesn’t it? I guess it was who you were with and your experience that informs your memories. The sixties were fabulous for me and I met some really intelligent interesting people. Had some great discussions about everything under the sun and beyond.

      5. Which was the scene within the LSE, where everybody was intelligent for reasons I don’t have to explain. It was quite hard going walking out from there into everything else though and that turned me off a bit. Some of these hippy’s with three brain cells to start with and who’d just had a smoke were a general bore. I couldn’t be anywhere near earshot of their nonsense. I remember being surrounded by them at nearly all times such as these concerts and in bars and it was psychological hell. I really don’t think the majority of them had any idea really of what they were trying to express to each other. I spent most of my time silently howling with laughter at what I was hearing. Most of what I heard from them was what I’d call pretentious psychobabble.
        I wish I had some recordings…

      6. My college friends were also very bright and the whole experience was invigorating. I got to travel a lot and meet up with a bunch of people I still keep up with. It was a liberating experience for me. But yes there were the usual bunch of brainless stoners.

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