Verse two (I think) broadens the focus to consider the life of a professional
writer in a professional band. Its imagery is about money, colleagues that pull
in different directions, management (John Purser). It is depressing, for what
we are left with are financial ‘bills’.
Yes. The second verse also contains several pointed references to Robert Fripp.
"I feel like a tumbling kite there's no hand on my reel."
The same lack of direction we all feel when unemployed.
"I dived aboard your star-bright ship to find you'd left the
Captain Nemo-Fripp's star-bright ship.
"To hunt some upstart passengers who had gambled with
"Fripp used the contributions of nine musicians to get the sound he wanted, but
Crimson was a way of doing things, for
that way involved following Fripp's instructions to the letter. As
drummer Wallace has testified, "Fripp was in one of his weird periods. You
had to play everything the way he did
it. There was no room to stretch out."
"Then trumpeted the hull with holes and laughing gone
As a prelude to forming a new band, Robert Fripp dissolved the
"In the opening months of 1972 the remaining members of King Crimson - Fripp,
Collins, Boz, and Wallace
- were not exactly congealing into what one would describe as a happy family.
Yet, as reports of inner dissent
came out in the press, the band was booked for one more American tour. As
Fripp was later to write, the
tour "was conducted in the knowledge that the group would disband afterwards."
"Immediately following the Earthbound tour, in May 1972, Fripp set about
forming a new King Crimson. This
time, you can practically hear the man muttering under his breath, it's no
more Mr. Nice Guy. In point of fact,
Fripp was determined to make a break from the chaos and instability of KC II
as well as from some of the
musical styles of that "interim" period."
"Whilst most of us who stayed aboard slipped brandy to
Mutiny in the ranks. Drinking and...? in response to a stressful work
"John Purser locked his iron box and pointed at the queue."
Would John Purser be EG management locking the iron box (cutting off the flow
of funds) in response to weak album sales? Perhaps "the queue" is the
unemployment line or the line at the ticket window - or both.
"Still working out the price of time no echoes will we lay;
So I've burnt the till and I've thrown the bills
In the weary envelopes of yesterday."
In V1 Peter seems to be contemplating his failure as a ‘visionary’ and lyric
writer and in V2 as a businessman.
V3 is a powerful restatement by the ‘me’ visionary of what he wants to achieve.
It lifts the song from depression into a powerful agent of change.
"I need to suck the breasts of time and freeze her milk in
I take this to mean "I need to figure out what the hell happened and put it
"To juggle cruets full of dreams and balance on the brink."
It could be that Peter had lost (some of) his dreams at this point and was
looking to find them again. One cannot juggle dreams unless he possesses them.
Balancing on the brink (a highwire act) requires nerve. Perhaps, at this point,
Peter had lost his confidence, or feared he was in imminent danger of doing so.
Im not sure one can possess a dream: mine seem to possess me! I think this is a
poetical expression of the need to go and experience the richness of life and
experience danger again. Why cruets? Containers for the bread and wine at the
Eucharist, presumably, rather than salt and pepper pots. This elevates the
importance of the dreams to a life-giving force.
"I've got a low boredom threshold. I like investigating stuff.
Robert Fripp is someone who gets stuck in his ways and then follows it for
a period of time; I'm a person who likes to jump about more."
- Peter Sinfield, Voiceprint newsletter 1996
These lines also seem to be directed at Robert Fripp, who, to this day, offers
us, what could be described as, half-baked ("unbaked clay") aphorisms on his
"Impermanent and unstable are all conditioned things, essentially brittle, like
an unbaked pot. Like some borrowed article, like a town built on sand, they
last for a short while only."
Lalitavistara XIII (pg 161)
"I'm not sure how much sense the Guitar Craft literature would have
made to me had I not attended a
seminar first. Without the context of my experience described in the
preceding chapter, I might have been more
inclined to write off the prose monographs as pedantic, impenetrable, and
dense, and the Aphorisms as
alternately quaint and cliché, profound and smug. As it is, I tend to see the
literature as one small part of the total
Guitar Craft situation Fripp has painstakingly constructed for the education
of his students."
It is also a counterblast against the basement culture of people’s expectations
that Peter is offering some kind of messianic solution.
Interesting that you use the term "basement culture" which is awfully close to
Robert Fripp's "basement-dweller". It seems to me that significantly more
people have messianic expectations of Fripp than Sinfield. For example, I
received one e-mail asking me to explain how the Sinfield albums trace Robert
Fripp's spiritual development. Apparently, events in the years following
Peter's departure from the group have left a more than residual impression that
his lyrics were the divinely inspired word of Fripp! Ironically, Peter IS
offering a solution which most people (human nature being what it is) would
take as messianic (in the traditional "follow me/worship me" sense of the word)
if they halfway understood it.
I don't think that these lines are necessarily only directed to Robert Fripp. I
suspect that they are intended to address Peter's impatience with audience
(nearly wrote 'audients' then - ugh!). I suppose that he must have endured many
people's attempts at pastiching his style over the years. Robert Fripp calls
such people 'basement dwellers'. Yes, it did influence my term 'basement
culture'. Is there a PJS cult? Well, I read Carter's DGM guestbook postings
with a wry smile. But then, he has a book to promote!