~ Benefit ~


For Michael Collins, Jeffrey And Me

  • Jeffrey was Jeffrey Hammond, who is earlier mentioned in "A Song For Jeffrey"and "Jeffrey Goes To Leicester Square" and who in 1971 became Tull's new bass player. In the paper "Songs From The Wood" it is suggested that perhaps Ian felt that as Jethro Tull became more popular and John Evans joined the band on keyboards, Jeffrey and the simpler 'good old days', when they were just starting out in the music business, were left behind.
    * Jan Voorbij

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To Cry You A Song

  • To Cry You A Song is about Ian on a flight (literally) back home and having to put up with all sorts of agravations such as not having enough cigarettes, being air sick (maybe?) and being held up by customs (who can't find what they're looking for, of course).
    Eventually he arrives home and finds Jenny peeping through curtains drawn, rattling on safety chains (on the door) and taking too long (he can't wait any longer):

    "Lights in the street,
    peeping through curtains drawn.
    Rattling of safety chain taking too long.
    The smile in your eyes was never so sweet before.
    Came down from the skies to cry you a song."

    * Matthew Korn

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  • The only remaining mystery for me in "To Cry You a Song" are the verselines "Closing my dream inside its paper-bag, Thought I saw angels but I could have been wrong". I suppose the "dream" could be anything at all, and the "paper bag" could even be metaphorical. In the Rolling Stone interview of July 1971, Ian Anderson claimed he avoided all drugs except tobacco and coffee. If true, then the scenario leading up to the reunion with the lover really is just him being on a plane back to England as he anticipates "getting down", and "how many cigarettes did I bring along" refers to tobacco. Of course, the words "flying high", "cigarettes", and "dream inside [a] paper bag" may have been chosen so as to mis-imply marijuana, since he had to suffer customs "Search in my case, can't find what they're looking for, waving me through.....".
    * Dale Chock

  • "How many cigarettes did I bring along" might mean: 1. Do I have enough cigarettes for the flight/road home (a daily concern for smokers btw) or, 2. How many taxfree cigarettes did I buy? Will the customs-officers make me pay? And the "paper bag"? Does it contain things he bought at the airport? And if so, what makes him "dream"? Glossy magazines full of beautiful women ("Angels") ?

  • There is another possible explanation to the line "Closing my dream inside its paper bag". In Brian Rabey's unpublished book "It's For You! The Magic And Musical Mayhem Of Jethro Tull", he describes Ian developing his stage act: ".... and to round thing out completely he used to carry all his belongings in a paper carrier bag from Woolworth's. He kept his harmonicas, flute and a couple of wooden flutes tucked away inside along with sandwiches and Coca Cola in a hot water bottle".
    Jeffrey Hammond is cited on their early gigs at the Marquee club in London: "I remember the one thing I was always keen about was the brown carrier bag which I used to use a lot and he (Ian) ended up using one on stage along with the hot water bottle".
    Finally Glen Cornick recalls Tull's successful appearance at the Sunbury Jazz & Blues Festival: "One thing I should mention is that one of the band's other props at the time was a paper carrier bag that Ian kept his flute, his harmonica and that claghorn in. So the stage was all set and the audience didn't know which order the acts were playing in. (...) John Gee was about to go on stage and announce us and he picked up the little paper bag and walked out onto the stage with it and the entire audience stood up and cheered. Every single person recognized the bag which was really phenomenal because we had no idea that people knew us that well".

  • So that settles the "paper bag question". But how about "closing my dream"? Since we know what the contents of this bag was, I assume the dream has to do with Ian's ambitions as a musican, dreaming of developing his own personal style, becoming a significant composer and performer.
    * Jan Voorbij

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Play In Time

  • The song shows Ian's struggle for finding his own way of musical expression in the lines
    "Blues were my favorite colour,
    'til I looked around and found another song
    that I felt like singing".

    In an interview he stated: I quickly became dissatisfied with what we were doing. I found it hard to go on stage and convincingly be a polite shade of black. What really got me was that I was singing something that was essentially stolen. And it wasn't just stealing music, it was stealing somebody's emotions and point of view, almost pretending to have an awareness of what it means to be black."
    * Ian Anderson: "Trouser Press Magazine - Autodiscography, October 1982.

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  • "Hello you straight-laced lady..."
    The term should be strait-laced, as in a lady's corset, meaning tight, as opposed to straight laced, which really means nothing. As few people wear corsets these days, the understanding of the term seems to have been lost. This spelling error is in the lyric book, which Ian has checked, so I suspect Ian himself got it wrong, if I may be so presumptuous.
    * Martha Klassanos

  • I always thought one who is straight laced to mean that they are set in their ways, old fashioned, not taking chances in life, routine, non-progressive - perhaps prudish in the context of Sossity the song.
    According to my Webster's, "strait-laced" is the preferred spelling with "straight-laced" as the alternative. Definition #2 is: Excessively strict in manners, morals or opinion.
    * Robert Jobson & Iva

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Updated: March 20 - 2001

Jan Voorbij (1998-2009)