Is it OK to title an obituary post with such a line, even if it is taken from the last verse of one of the recently-departed's earliest compositions?
Here are some prophetic words from 1969, which still resonate in the present, from the King Crimson track 'Epitaph', sung by Greg Lake.
"Knowledge is a deadly friend
If no-one sets the rules.
The fate of all mankind, I see,
Is in the hands of fools."
On Thursday, this week, it was this song which sprung to mind in the numbing silence and hollow blackness I felt on hearing the sad news of Greg's passing. I was going to write that his voice and lyrics scripted my late teens, but that would be woefully inaccurate. Jings, the guy influenced my world view for decades, mainly along with his fellow band members of ELP (Keith Emerson and Carl Palmer) and also his song-writing collaborator Pete Sinfield.
Tonight, I'm listening to tunes from King Crimson (1969), ELP (1970-79), Greg's solo stuff (1981-83), Emerson, Lake and Powell (1986) and ELP (1992).
In 'Battlefield' from ELP's Tarkus album, it was clear that he didn't warm to war:
"Clear the battlefield and let me see
All the profit from our victory.
You talk of freedom, starving children fall.
Are you deaf when you hear the seasons call?
Religion got short shrift, too, in songs like 'Mass' (Tarkus) and 'I Believe In Father Christmas' (eventually released on Works Volume 2), but a few lines in 'Hallowed Be Thy Name' (from Works Volume 1) showed a, maybe, subtler understanding:
"You needn't be well to be wealthy
But you've got to be whole to be holy."
There were early signs of environmentalism in 'Knife Edge' from ELP's debut album in 1970, but perhaps Greg's most ecological song was 1992's 'Black Moon' from the ELP album of the same name:
"Just take a look around the world
The future never waits
We're skating on thin ice
And we're in the hands of Fate.
What we need's a little re-direction
To find our blue lagoon.
You know, it wouldn't come
A moment too soon.
Any of these lyrics would be a fitting epitaph, I reckon.
Rest in peace, Greg.