21st Century Schizoid Man By King Crimson

In The Court Of The Crimson King

1969 | Rock

Spotify | Amazon

"Blood rack barbed wire. -- Politicians' funeral pyre. -- Innocents raped with napalm fire. -- Twenty first century schizoid man."


  • Both King Crimson & Emerson Lake & Palmer were founded by Greg Lake.
  • The solo has made it's way onto plenty of 100 Greatest Guitar Solo lists on places like Gutar World & Louder Sound.
  • April Wine covered the song on their album Harder...Faster.


Luke Tatum

I recently learned this is an anti-Vietnam War song. For a long time I couldn't understand the lyrics, and had never bothered to look them up. I suppose I should mention, for the unitiated: King Crimson's discography has a huge amount of live material, so there are many versions of their bigger songs. Add that to the truly insane amount of covers other bands have done, and it can be hard to figure out who is actually performing the music at times. Let's start with what "schizoid personality disorder" means: Someone who does not desire close relationships, who chooses only activities to do alone, who has no interest in sex, does not show mood changes, doesn't care much about compliments or negative comments, and avoids social gatherings completely would qualify. So, what makes this an anti-war song? The lyrics are sparse, and paint a strange picture. But, let's look here: "Blood rack, barbed wire; Politician's funeral pyre; Innocents raped with napalm fire; Twenty-first century schizoid man." The endless unwinnable war, the incomprehensible violence, will not only lead to the demise of the politicians who supported the war, but will also create a generation of men who have lost touch with their humanity. On an opinionated side-note: This is my second favorite King Crimson song. The best they've ever done is "Epitaph."

Sherry Voluntary

This disjointed and trippy song has minimal lyrics, but they are powerful if you think about them. In the politicians funeral pyre, everybody burns and no one is safe. This song was written during the Vietnam era, and since that time the United States has only grown it’s war machine, and it continues to make more and more “schizoid men.” Young people sent off to fight that come back broken and disconnected with normal life and the people they once were. In this century of war there is no need to go into the forest to find our monsters, we make them ourselves.

Nicky P

I wish I would have gotten into first gen prog earlier in life. It's all so over-wrought with its thinking. I personally love over-wrought. I looked up an explanation on these purposefully abstract lyrics. The explainer examined how the words were purposefully structured identically in all 3 verses. Beginning abstractly and ending each stanza on a hard idea. I believe the song was taking the abstract view that humanity has edged closer and closer to losing itself in its own arrogance and hubris. Way back in the 60's too? I imagine they'd have thrown the paper in the air today thinking well that's far too obvious a premise. The abomination that was the Vietnam war was a prelude to our everyday. We've been at war for over two thirds of my life. I think we're too far gone by now.

Created By
Nicky P

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