"Starless" as written by David Francis Cross, Richard William Palmer James, Robert Fripp, William Scott Bruford and John Kenneth Wetton....
Sundown dazzling day
Gold through my eyes
But my eyes turned within
Only see
Starless and bible black

Ice blue silver sky
Fades into grey
To a grey hope that oh years to be
Starless and bible black

Old friend charity
Cruel twisted smile
And the smile signals emptiness
For me
Starless and bible black


Lyrics submitted by ruben, edited by Pseudobrain, shpilk, Hlodowig, chhaprahiya

"Starless" as written by James Richard William Palmer David Francis Cross

Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

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Starless song meanings
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  • +5
    Song MeaningThis song is simply about the futility of living. It closed one of the most powerful chapters in progressive rock history and with it closed the most intriguing chapter of King Crimson.

    The first verse refers to the brightness of adolescent life, of the demure touch of a beautiful sunny day to spark one's imagination, but the verse reveals that a bright and enthusiastic world does not export its beauty to you. All things that world promised you fade to black and you are lifeless in a sunny world.

    The second verse confirms that sadness will extrapolate over all of your desires and dreams, that your life will retain the emptiness and the lack of meaning over time, the bright disingenuity of younger days will never shine on you again

    The third verse is the most interesting as it hauntingly describes the poisoning of the soul by which no helping hand or smile could rescind the damage that has been done to you by the world and by time, true hopelessness has ensued.

    The chorus of the song is a very interesting metaphor. In the most unequivocal sense it means that your skies have become starless for nothing you will see will ever compel you again - and so it entails that you are stained bible black. Whatever spirituality or happy hopes in the world exist that could have placated you are dead and black, but held habitually by time and empty hope.

    Finally the most important verse of all - the one spoken by Robert Fripp. The monotone squeal of his guitar piece that occupies the next 5 or so minutes after the third verse is like the progression of time from months, to years, to decades.

    The child who acknowledged the dying of his world has lived a zombie all his life and finally sees the inexorability of his own death in his final hour after an age of emptiness.

    The last 3 minutes of the song are powerful but the last minute postulated absolute death. It is the most powerful minute in Rock history and probably a contributor to such events like Kurt Cobain committing suicide, Cobain regarded this album 'Red' as the greatest rock album of all time...

    ...When that last minute hits you, you finally taste the pathos of the character described in the song, because you see that character to be you. You see your own death, and the worthlessness of your own life, it is beautiful, terrifying, and on an implicit level - why most people love this song to death.

    This song ended a golden age
    Thank you to anyone who took the time to read this

    RIP King Crimson (1969 - 1974)
    Yoshifirebirdon March 21, 2014   Link
  • +4
    General CommentWhy, oh why it's always the saddest and darkest songs that stick to one's mind and soul more than others? Well, mine at least.

    This is easily one of the best songs not only by KC, but by any of the classic prog-rock bands. It's hopelessness turned into art. There have been times when I listened to "Red" and wanted to skip the song just to not ruin my mood absolutely. How many times have I made it, you think? None. Zero. "Starless" always drags me in and I often find myself listening to it several times in a row.
    kristaps_kon January 30, 2007   Link
  • +2
    General CommentWay, way beyond depression. Utter blackness inside of himself, to the point of nothingness. That is how I perceive it. How I feel. Here are the corrected lyrics:

    Sundown, dazzling day,
    Go through my eyes.
    But my eyes turn within,
    Only see,
    Starless and bible black.

    Old friend charity,
    Cruel, twisted smile.
    And the smile signals emptiness,
    For me.
    Starless and bible black.

    Ice blue, silver sky,
    Fades into gray.
    To a grey hole,
    That amends to be,
    Starless and bible black.
    GordianPiusIIIon July 29, 2008   Link
  • +2
    General CommentKing Crimson, Van der Graaf Generator and Genesis (with Gabriel) are my three favourite groups, and this is one of my favourite songs ever. The line "Starless and bible black" is a quote from Dylan Thomas’ "Under Milk Wood".
    theosarkoudaon October 15, 2010   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think the song is expressing loneliness through that of expectations of good only to be years and times of being alone and becoming more of your own friend than anything else.
    Ahourstoryon October 25, 2014   Link
  • +2
    General CommentTo me I just feel utter disappointment when I search for the meaning behind the lyrics. Not necessarily depression but the shift from being up to quickly very, very down about either life or circumstances... it's a feeling of disappointment from high expectation and the powerful conclusion that your being let down and it's just too shocking to endure, I think this song is describing such a scenario, it's not a happy song for sure but I really enjoy the singer's voice.
    Ahourstoryon November 03, 2014   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis is my favorite lyric not only from KC but ever. There seems not to be hidden meanings but plain perception of life as something ominous. Bible black is a common expression in the UK to refer to the darkest black.
    verse 1: Depression commonly arising on beautiful days, gorgeous tropical beaches, parties where everybody is "happy"
    verse 2: Hope lost after years of non fulfilling a longed desire.
    verse 3: friends well-natured or just can´t help you out
    supercucuon September 08, 2002   Link
  • +1
    My InterpretationFor me, these lyrics reflect the hopelessness of a person affected by dementia, knowing that certain faces are familiar, yet not knowing why. The opening lyric 'Sundown', in my opinion, relates to a symptom of dementia known as sundowning.

    From Wikipedia: "Sundowning typically occurs during the late afternoon, evening, and night, hence the name. It occurs in persons with certain forms of dementia and psychosis, such as seen in Alzheimer's disease. A person who is sundowning may exhibit mood swings, become abnormally demanding, suspicious, upset or disoriented, and see or hear things that are not there in the late afternoon and evening."

    Truly a brilliant song which has been one of my favorites for years, but only recently have I perceived it as I do now.
    Elemenoon December 27, 2010   Link
  • +1
    My Opinion"Starless and Bible Black" is, as theosarkouda writes, a quotation from Dylan Thomas's "Under Milk Wood"....

    "It is spring, moonless night in the small town, starless and bible-black, the cobblestreets silent and the hunched, courters'-and-rabbits' wood limping invisible down to the sloeblack, slow, black, crowblack, fishingboat-bobbing sea."

    Under Milk Wood is set in the fictional Welsh town of Llareggub. Although it appears to be almost, but not quite, a plausibly Welsh place name, the fact that it's reverse-spelled "Buggerall" is not irrelevant.
    Songwriters will sometimes assemble words simply because seem to fit together. Apart from missing the point, interpreters of those lyrics achieve precisely that.

    They've probably done the same thing to writers before Dylan Thomas, and they certainly persist today.
    IgwaldTheWoolyon June 02, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentOne of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard (some of the sax, guitar and violin melodies are mindblowing in such a simple way) backed by a decent, slightly tedious jam that climaxes pretty well. I could do with a few minutes shaved off, but it's one of the better KC tunes and that's saying something.
    emo_bahon December 16, 2004   Link

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