Starless (12:18)

Cover of Red

From Red and 23 other releases

“Starless” is a song by British progressive rock band King Crimson. It was featured on the Red album in 1974.

The song is roughly 12 minutes and 15 seconds in length, the longest on the Red album. As the last track on the last King Crimson album of the 1970s, it features several moments which recall earlier releases. It starts with mellotron strings, electric guitar and a saxophone, playing in a style recalling Epitaph from In the Court of the Crimson King. These introduce a vocal segment in conventional verse-chorus structure. The middle section of the song is a build-up which recalls The Talking Drum from Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. Starting with a single distorted guitar, little drumming and clean bass, the playing gradually becomes louder and much wilder, though the tempo stays constant and all the while Robert Fripp’s guitar plays only two different notes. The song’s final section begins with an abrupt transition to a fast, jazzy saxophone solo with distorted guitars and bass, and expressive tribal drumming by Bill Bruford. This recalls the wilder section of 21st Century Schizoid Man, the band’s signature piece from that era. The song ends with a short reprise of the opening melody.

The phrase “Starless and Bible Black” is a quotation from the poet Dylan Thomas’s play, Under Milk Wood. It serves both as the chorus for the song’s vocal segment and as the title of an instrumental track on the album Starless and Bible Black, there is little apparent similarity between the two pieces.

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

MetroLyrics Full lyrics at MetroLyrics

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