Epitaph (song)

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Single by King Crimson
from the album In the Court of the Crimson King
B-side "21st Century Schizoid Man"
Released 12 October 1969 (1969-10-12)
Format 7-inch single
Recorded 30 July 1969
Length 8:47
Label Atlantic
Lyricist(s) Peter Sinfield
Producer(s) King Crimson
King Crimson singles chronology
"The Night Watch"
"Matte Kudasai"
In the Court of the Crimson King track listing

"Epitaph" is the third track on British progressive rock band King Crimson's 1969 album In the Court of the Crimson King. It was written by Robert Fripp, Ian McDonald, Greg Lake, and Michael Giles with lyrics written by Peter Sinfield.

The song is noted for its heavy use of the Mellotron,[2][3] and as with the first track, "21st Century Schizoid Man", the song's lyrics have a distinctly dystopian feel to them.[2][4]

The song's title was used as the name for a live album of recordings done by the original King Crimson, Epitaph.[5]

Emerson, Lake & Palmer would later incorporate an excerpt from this song after the "Battlefield" portion of the live version of their song "Tarkus", from the Tarkus album, as documented in the live album Welcome Back My Friends to the Show That Never Ends... Ladies and Gentlemen.

"Stripes" from Cage's album Hell's Winter samples a middle part of the song throughout its duration.

Epitaph Records also took its name from the song.[6]


The song reflects the fears of the time, in particular a nuclear apocalypse, and the confusion and despair of the narrator as a result.


1976 single[edit]

In 1976, "Epitaph" was released as a single with "21st Century Schizoid Man" as the B-side, a companion to the compilation A Young Person's Guide to King Crimson (1976).

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Epitaph" (including "March for No Reason" and "Tomorrow and Tomorrow") (Robert Fripp, Michael Giles, Greg Lake, Ian McDonald, Peter Sinfield)
  2. "21st Century Schizoid Man" (including "Mirrors") (Fripp, Giles, Lake, McDonald, Sinfield)


  1. ^ a b Macan (1997), p.24
  2. ^ a b Macan (1997), p.23
  3. ^ Martin (1998), p.158-159
  4. ^ Holm-Hudson (2008), p.41
  5. ^ Ayers (2006), p.179
  6. ^ Buhrmester, Jason (November 2010). "Against the Grain: The Oral History of Epitaph Records". Spin: 62. ISSN 0886-3032. 


  • Ayers, Michael D. (2006). Cybersounds: Essays On Virtual Music Culture. Peter Lang. ISBN 082047861X. 
  • Holm-Hudson, Kevin (2008). Genesis and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway. Ashgate Publishing. ISBN 0754661393. 
  • Macan, Edward (1997). Rocking the Classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195098870. 
  • Martin, Bill (1998). Listening to the Future: The Time of Progressive Rock, 1968-1978. Open Court Publishing. ISBN 081269368X. 

External links[edit]