‘We don’t have the words’: Tony Levin reminisces on mystery of music with King Crimson fans

Though King Crimson has been inactive since 2009, bassist Tony Levin says their music remains a topic of conversation among fans who fondly remember the group — even if describing their experiences sometimes proves difficult.

“To this day, people after a concert come up and they say: ‘I was at the concert, on the Pier with King Crimson in 1984,’” Levin says, in this newly posted threepieces.org video. “I remember it in the band, and they remember it — but what is it that we remember? We know, but we don’t have the words in our language to explain it.”

Such is the power and magic not just of King Crimson’s music, but of all music, says Levin — who joined Robert Fripp’s ever-evolving progressive rock outfit in 1981. He’s been part of six King Crimson studio efforts, beginning with Discipline. King Crimson’s last album arrived in 2003, The Power to Believe.

In the interim, Levin has continued working as a first-call session musician, tours with two other Fripp band alumni as the Crimson ProjeKCt, and has joined Peter Gabriel for a enormous tour in celebration of the former Genesis frontman’s breakout 1986 solo effort So. His group the Stick Men also recently released the well-received Deep.

Levin’s passion for the work continues unabated, even as questions about the future of Crimson linger.

“The wonderful miracle about music,” Levin adds, “is that it communicates things we don’t have words for, but we all understand it. As I become older, and tour more, I appreciate how lucky I am to be in a genre where I do nothing all year but communicate on this level that’s very valid and communicates to our inner selves — without even having the words in our language to explain what it is we communicated.”

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