Thinking Round Corners
surrealistic song is a rock square dance with
nonsense lyrics and is the result of word
associations and word play. This collage of
images reminds us of two songs in which
Anderson applied this literary technnique:
"Mother Goose" (Aqualung) and
"Hot Mango Flush" (J-Tull Dot Com).
* Jan Voorbij
covet gold finery through the eyes of a
Jackdaw, dressed to the nines".
Thinking Round Corners looks to
me like a stream-of-consciousness lyric, a
string of images without a great deal of
meaning, just creating a mood. But, if
you want to learn more about the Jackdaw and
its use in various English sayings and
fables, you can go here: The
Dictionary Of Phrase And Fable -- and
just do a search on the word.
* Andy Jackson
Like A Tall Thin Girl
According to Greg Russo
this humorous song is about Doane Perry's
longing for a waitress working in an Indian
restaurant on Baker Street in London. Doane
and Ian, who both heartily enjoy Indian
cuisine ("I'd rather do
a Vindaloo"), saw
her at the restaurant when eating there
during Doane's 1984 rehearsal periode for the
Under Wraps tour (1, p. 150).
Innocence" is another of the
"on-the-road" songs on this album.
The main topic is not "lusting after
sweet young women" as Barbara
Espinoza states in her book (4, p.93), but
loneliness and ambiguous, conflicting
It all starts when our
narrator recognises the feeling of loneliness
in a young woman he meets by sheer
co´ncidence after performing at a rock
festival. Note the double meaning of "drifted" in the
drifted from some minor festival" and
how the second line, that apparently refers
to the festival goers in the third, stresses
the condition SHE is in: "Didn't
look like any summer of love".
He is moved by her
beauty and her innocence: "Funny thing the charm
of the young" and "See how she moved just
like two angels (in white innocence)". It
would be possible for them to help ending
eachother's solitude for a while: "She was the hand to
fit my glove"
she see warm safety in my numbers to want to
hitch a ride this way?". The
conflict in his feelings arises when he
becomes aware of the fact that he is sexually
attracted to her on one hand ("Think I was sending
out low-voltage electricity: played it right
down for what it was worth"),
while on the other hand he wants to take care
for her. This subsequently embarrasses him: "Felt like I was taking
her to market now to be sold as the last lot
of the day".
Maybe the narrator
realises that he is becoming a middle-aged
man and watching this young woman may make
him long for her ("There
was the promise of early bed-time. There was
the promise of heaven on earth"), he
decides however not act upon it: "Funny thing, the
wisdom of the lonely". This
makes him more aware of his own solitude: "Funny thing,
the distance of the lonely".
The lyrics contain two
possible references to the year 1969: the "summer
of love" refers
to the summer of 1969, of the Monterey and
Woodstock ("three days of love,
peace and music") and other great
rock, jazz and blues festivals in Europe and
the USA. This year was the hayday of the
hippy and flower-power era. Bear in mind that
Jethro Tull toured the US for the first time
during that specific summer.
The line "I was doing
some, some watching, some waiting" might
have been borrowed from the Moody Blues'
"Watching And Waiting", a song from
their album "To Our Children's
Children's Children" (1969), sung in the
same tempo as "White innocence". So
we have three references here to the year
1969 in one song. Co´ncidence? I don't think
* Jan Voorbij
With The Dog
One obvious but
probably simplistic interppretation of line 'sleeping with
the dog' might be from an expression used in England
"In the Dog house" which usually refers to a
partners attitude when someone has not done something. In
other words the partners not best pleased and the person is
in the 'dog house', symbolically outside the home no longer
thought of kindly. Another interpretation could be that Ian is talking about
relationship problems and his usual wonderful partner
becomes at times a 'dog': English coloquial expression for
some one unattractive, but Ian could in this case mean
someone spiritually unattractive for the moment, but yet he
still sleeps with her because tomorrow will be different.
The song could literally refer though to sleeping with the
dog because he is no longer welcome in the marital bed.
Black Jacket And Tie
The Catfish Tour. This picture was
taken during the concert at the Paramount Theater,
New York, November 10, 1991, when Jethro Tull was
playing "Watching Me, Watching You".
By kind permission of John LaFazia.
Night In The Wilderness
put some spice in your rice.
You'd give me blues in the stew.
I'd give you catfish jumping.
You'd give me all this work to do".
It's still odd that the album
title doesn't come back in one of the songs
on the album. I remember hearing that a
B-side that wasn't released otherwise was
about catfish, but I'm not sure about that.
'Night In The Wilderness' was indeed recorded
during the Catfish Rising sessions, but was
omitted from the album for some reason. It
was finally released on the 'Rocks On The
Road' CD-single. The direct reference is in
the second verse: I'd put some spice in your
rice. You'd give me blues in the stew. I'd
give you catfish jumping. You'd give me all
this work to do. Who's got the cheque on this
hot dinner? Who's got the tabs on the crab?
Yes, it's another Tull 'food' song, though,
as usual, it has little to do with food...
* Neil Thomason
I think the most famous
appearance of a Catfish is in Muddy Waters'
song Rolling Stone, the song that one of the
best bands in the world is named after. A
catfish is a common fish in the Mississipi
delta. One of the catfish species is the Blue
cat. When Muddy moved from the Delta to
Chicago, he became one of the first to
experiment with electric guitars instead of
playing acoustically. I'm sure Ian, like all
his British peers, listened a lot to Muddy
Waters. Robert Plant "borrowed"
complete lyrics from Muddy Waters' The
Hunter. Same goes for Peter Green from
Fleetwood Mac who used some lines from
"Catfish" in "Oh Well".
Clapton, John Mayall, the Stones, Led
Zeppelin, and in fact every other rock artist
owe quite a lot to the late great Muddy
Waters. I think the original Catfish Blues
was not written by Muddy Waters though.
Catfish Blues is a traditional Mississippi
delta tune. BB King also recorded it, on that
record it's credited to King Josea.While it
is pretty obvious that Ian listened to a lot
of blues in the early days, it would be
interesting to hear Martin talk a little more
about his earliest influences. I reckon it's
also the blues, for he says that he is always
playing blues, whatever he plays. Could it be
that there was a little double meaning, with
a hint to Ian's fishy business in Scotland?
* Jeroen Louis
The article which
appeared in "Guitar One" magazine
written by Dave Rubin in conjunction with The
University of Mississippi. entitled
"Catfish Blues -The evolution of a
classic lick" explains some more. Here
is an extract of it. Why a Catfish? Bluesmen
may have liked it as a metaphor for their own
adaptability and survival, as catfish are
hardy creatures that have been on earth a
long time. Pan fried, they are a delicacy
available to anyone with a fishing pole,
which could help to explain the lyric:
"I wish I was a catfish, swimming in
the deep blue sea.
I'd have al l these good lookin' women,
fishing after me."
Whatever the exact interpretation of the
content, the form of "Catfish
Blues" is derived from one of those deep
Delta guitar licks that goes back to the
origins of the music.
The earliest version of "Catfish
Blues" was recorded in 1941 by Robert
Petway and shows no evidence of the licks
that have come to define the song, having
instead a syncopated chordal pattern that
could literally be a precursor of funk. That
same year, however, Tommy McClennam cut
"Deep Blue Sea Blues" with the same
lyric idea and licks that evolved to become
the classic hook.
In 1950 Muddy Waters made "Rolling
Stone" with the Catfish lyrics and a
form of the lick in the intro that Hendrix
would later refine and credit to Muddy. Then
in 1951, John Lee Hooker, Bobo
"Slim" Thomas and Muddy Waters all
recorded versions of the Catfish theme within
months of each other, making it impossible to
decipher the exact chronology. Muddy Waters
had a second version of Catfish Blues with
"Still a Fool". In the late 60's
Jimi Hendrix cut several versions of Catfish
Blues as well as his original composition
"Voodoo Child". He set the standard
for future guitarists wishing to tap into the
deep mojo associated with this hypnotic
* Robert Jobson
One of the American catfish species
Over 30 families of
catfishes are recognized, together comprising
over 2000 species. Siluriforms are most
diverse in species and morphology in tropical
South America, Africa, and Asia. However,
catfishes live or have lived in the inland or
coastal waters of all continents.
* John Lundberg
1. Greg Russo: "Flying colours:
the Jethro Tull reference manual", Floral Park,
2. David Rees: "Minstrels in the gallery, a
history of Jethro Tull", Wembley, England, 1998
3. Contributions posted at the TalkTull
4. Barbara Espinoza: "Driving in diverse: a
collective profile of Jethro Tull", Kearney NE,