The Song of the Sea Goat is the opening song on the album. Themes from the D
major Lute Concerto by Vivaldi invoke the ebb and flow of the waves, and a
fragile exquisite beauty is shaped by many layers of imagery.
There is a numinous sense of timelessness, even though it contains many contemporary references. The balance between the mythical and the topical creates a framework that enables listeners to project their own interpretations upon the song. Thus a song built upon a social foundation also contains a sense of personal development. How can so much be achieved in so few words?
It is a magnificent performance on every level. Stirring, majestic, enigmatic, provocative; it is everything the old King Crimson used to be - and more. Like all of the songs in the first four King Crimson albums, The Song of the Sea Goat is full of hidden symbolism. But what is even more fascinating about the song is that it is also very significant to Peter's personal life and career. It is, as far as I know, Peter's first deeply personal song, very much unlike anything he had done before while, in a sense, also very much like what was to come. It is interesting to note that this new personal dimension to Peter's work was foreshadowed in the "sailors' words" of Islands .
The position of songs on Peter Sinfield's albums is always interesting. The Song of the Sea Goat has the pole position on Still , a distinction it shares with 21st Century Schizoid Man , Cirkus and Formentera Lady . The first two songs are political reflections of contemporary society that use stark images as symbols of modern turmoil. Formentera Lady , in contrast, is more pastoral and uses small details of personal observation.
The first song on each album is very important because it defines how the narrator sees the world and, therefore, himself. In other words, in a Peter Sinfield song the outer world always mirrors the inner world. In 21st Century Schizoid Man , the world is at war because the narrator is completely at odds with himself. He, like the world, is dominated by the will to power (over the disowned parts of the self). This is projective identification - or, as an old Jewish saying goes..."We don't see the world as it is. We see the world as we are."
Because on side two of In the Court of the Crimson King our protagonist acknowledges his shadow (Eros), In the Wake of Poseidon the will to power has subsided (or, more accurately, gone underground), replaced by love, or Eros. As explained in Eros and Strife, Eros has a dark side (poverty or desire) and this becomes the filter through which the narrator sees the world. The narrator now worries about his own desire (or fallen Eros) which has risen to consciousness, rendering unconscious his Promethean impulse, his will to power (as represented by 21st Century Schizoid Man ). This overwhelming sense of desire is projected out into the world as depicted in Pictures of a City . Please note: the world has not changed from one album to the next. It is only his perception of the world that has changed and his perception of the world is very much colored by his own internal state. Your description of these two songs as "political reflections" is accurate because our "politics" is always reflective of who we are as a society (i.e. our spiritual condition or where we are on the continuum between the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions). I don't know of any governments that operate from the transcendent position! I suspect such a government would be called "anarchy" (or no government at all) in the best Marxist sense of the word.
In Hand of Sceiron , the protagonist confronts the "monster" of his own will to power, represented by the Mars theme (Aries), the sign of the 21st Century Schizoid Man . This is his own shadow rising up from the depths. In Garden of Worm , he reconciles the two opposed poles of his psyche (conscious Eros and unconscious will to power) to overcome, if only momentarily, his sense of duality. The two opposed poles are always specific elements of conscious and unconscious within us. The world is only as divided as we are within and any sense of unity we feel is nothing more than the unity (of conscious and unconscious) within ourselves.
And this is where we arrive at Cirkus . Having overcome duality in the previous album, the narrator now feels compelled (qualified?) to expound upon its vagaries. While, in The Devil's Triangle , the narrator came to understand Logos and Eros (the will to power and desire) as points on a continuum, he has yet to sufficiently overcome either of these forces. The will to power (Logos) is only present if power is desired (Eros) and the motto of Scorpio, the sign of Lizard , is "I desire". The problem of desire is "mirrored" in the worlds of Indoor Games and Happy Family . Desire rises up from the unconscious in Lady of the Dancing Waters (much in the way the will to power rose from the unconscious in The Devil's Triangle ) to announce itself overtly as the problem our narrator is now facing. And so, on side two of Lizard , he renounces the world, makes the journey into the wilderness (within and without) and confronts, in a last battle, his shadow, his desire and all of the baggage of his ego.
Emerging from this "dark night of the soul" in Formentera Lady , the world is bright and new. He is whole again but the sense of unity does not last (it never does). The material world (of Maya, the Formentera Lady) soon intrudes and leads to our protagonists "Fall" (or re-fall, as it were). This time driven by feelings provoked (brought to consciousness) by a woman (or women) he again journeys into the underworld of his own unconscious ( Sailor's Tale ). After several painful experiences with women, he realizes he has not approached his life with the right attitude. The "right attitude", as in the previous three albums, is attained only in relation to the narrator's unconscious. I get the impression that, after the storms of life depicted in Sailor's Tale, The Letters and Ladies of the Road , the narrator seeks (or finds) solace in his own unconscious. This relationship between inner and outer (the individuation process) is depicted in Islands . The biggest revelation in Islands is that the narrator is using "words" ("sailor's words - pearls and gourds are strewn on my shore") rising up from the unconscious to know himself. The sailor is Peter Sinfield.
The Song of the Sea Goat combines both stark images as symbols of modern turmoil and small pastoral details of personal observation. It melds complex imagery from alchemy and astrology with ephemeral images. Like Cirkus , it probably started as a song for and about modern society. At the same time, perhaps inevitably, an agenda for personal development is spelt out.
I agree that the song is about modern society but hasten to add that the song is also "for and about" Peter Sinfield. Peter's art is always meant for his own personal development (i.e. the "agenda" is to write poetry, meaningful healing poetry). That said, I see the overall mood of The Song of the Sea Goat , superficially at least, as one of despair (on several levels) - but we'll get into that later.
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