King Crimson And Yellow Dylan (Part II)

By Larry Fyffe


So it can be posited that the lyrics of “The Court Of The Crimson King” sets up a tournament  between the purplish-red king, and the “yellow jester”; that is, Bob Dylan who  alludes to biblical verses in his songs:

On soft grey mornings widows cry
The wise men share a joke
I run to grasp divine signs
To satisfy the hoax

(KIng Crimson: The Court Of The Crimson King)

According to the Holy Bible, King Ahab, marries Jezebel from the land of the Philistines and Phoenicians; to please her the king allows the worship of Baal, a fertility god, and along with that the statue of the Golden Calf. As a consequence, Northern Israel (Samaria) becomes separated from King Solomon’s once united country.

The next king of Samaria sustains an injury, and  seeks the aid of Baalzebub. Angered, the Hebrew God of southern Judah tells Elijah to challenge the strength of Baalzebub by smiting the northern king’s soldiers; no Jesus-type is prophet Elijah – he calls fire down upon their heads.

Then Elijah says to the wayward king:

Forasmuch as thou has sent messengers 
To enquire of Baalzebub ...
Therefore, thou shalt not come down off that bed ...
But shall surely die
(II Kings: 1)

The band members of ‘King Crimson’ take on the role of  Baal-ze-bub, the Lord of the Flies, the bringer of plagues upon the wicked who do not worship him or the Golden Calf:

I wait outside the pilgrim's door
With insufficient schemes
The black queen chants
The funeral march
The cracked brass bells will ring
To summon back the fire witch
To the court of the crimson king
(King Crimson: The Court Of The Crimson King)

Alluding to:

The cracked bells, and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn
(Bob Dylan: I Want You)

In the Bible, little David upstages Goliath, the Philistine giant who has the god Baalzebub on his side.

More than once Dylan struggles with the symbol of death known as Baalzebub/Beelzebub – transformed into Satan by the authors of the New Testament.

Therein, strict Jewish priests accuse the Christian messiah Jesus of having the Lord of the Flies on His side:

But when the Pharisees heard of it, they said
This fellow doth not cast out devils
But by Beelzebub, the prince of devils

 (Matthew 12: 24)

Taking on the role of a modern-day Elijah, Dylan, ahead of Crimson, burlesques biblical stories to criticize America’s military involvement in the Vietnam mess:

The king of the Philistines his soldiers to save
Puts jawbones on their tombstones, and flatters their graves
Puts the pied pipers in prison, and fattens their slaves
Then sends them out to the jungle
(Bob Dylan: Tombstone Blues)


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