Annotations


~ Crest Of A Knave ~

(2)

 

The Crest Of A Knave Tour: photograph taken during the concert at the Hempstead Nassau Coliseum, NY, November 13 1987.
By kind permission of Bruce Mironov

 

Annotations

Said She Was a Dancer

  • The image of "King of Old Siam" refers to Thailand. Ever since Thailand had been discovered by Europeans in the16th century, it had been considered a mysterious, fairy-like country, due to its large amount of temples, the wealth of its kings and a (Buddhist) culture that was considered awkward in the eyes of the Europeans in those days. Within the context of this song I presume, that the narrator would like to be considered as a man of wealth and mystery, evoking the lady's interest. She however keeps it all very formal, revealing nothing but being a dancer and any attempt to overcome this distance is prevented.
    * Jan Voorbij

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Dogs In The Midwinter

  • This dark, brooding and pessimistic song with its threatening atmoshere is a metaphore for Western society in the eighties, suffering from the economic depression. In the "Broadsword" songs Anderson portrayed how this economical crisis affects us all. Ever since "Aqualung" album this critique in one way or another has been popping up from time to time. Here he brings it up once again, as if it were a warning. We are the "Dogs In the Midwinter" with our eyes on each other ("You look around and every face you see: dogs in the midwinter"), starving, suffering from the cold (disintegration of communities, individualism?), greedy (selfishness?), unpredictable (opportunism?) and therefore: dangerous. Homo homini lupus est - as a Roman writer once stated.

The Crest Of A Knave Tour: photograph taken during the concert at the Hempstead Nassau Coliseum, NY, November 13 1987.
By kind permission of Bruce Mironov

Budapest

  • Checked the Hungarian dictionaries for the translation "middle distance runner" and there is a word very similar to it which means "middle-of-the-roader" from an issue or political standpoint. I can't put the Hungarian words into the computer because of the dots and accent marks which go over the various Hungarian letters. Maybe Ian meant it in the context of 'extremely average' or similar? Egesegedre (or however you spell it!).
    * Norman Griffiths in Riga, Latvia (SCC vol. 9 nr.4, January 1998)
  • During the Soviet Bloc era, one way in which the Soviet countries got positive publicity was thought athletics. In addition to somewhat obscure sports (e.g. weightlifting, greco-roman wrestling, rhythmic gymnastics, etc), as well as better known ones (ice hockey, gymnastics, etc.),the countries put all students in school through all sorts of athletic tests. One area where the slavic and baltic countries excelled was track and field. In particular, these countries produced middle distance runners (at 200m, 400m, 800, or the mile). Most of the current world records in these events are held by women from Bulgaria, Russia, etc. So maybe Ian was really talking about a middle distance runner. Such a person (male or female) would be svelte and lanky. And probably pretty nice to the eyes. Your budding track & field official Mikers making up the words, but when Joe was pronouncing the two words for "middle-distance runner" and "middle-of-the-roader" they sounded extremely similar.
    * M. Freese (SCC vol. 9 nr. 8, January 1998), with additional comments by Pelerin.

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Mountain Men

  • The lines "where these mountain men are kings and the sound of the piper counts for everything" indicate that the narrator in this song is referring to Scotland. He calls these men "kings" in their own realm, as he considers them to be proud, independent and self-assured of which the sound of the bag-pipe gives evidence. The atmosphere is portrayed in the first stanza and comes to a sudden end like waking up from a dream: ".... as the ship moves sadly from the pier (...) ... two hundred brave souls share the farewell tear".
  • "Died in the trenches and at El Alamein"; the trenches refer to the First World War, where thousands of soldiers died in the trenches in France and Belgium. El Alamein refers to the battle of El Alamein that took place between June 30 and November 3 1942. This Egyptian coastal city, west of Alexandria, was part of the last ditch defensive line of the Allied, mainly British soldiers. They scarcely withstood general Rommel's Afrika Korps' attempts to break these lines thus preventing them to occupy the vital port and city of Alexandria.
  • ".... died in the Falklands on T.V.": In 1982 the Falkland war took place between Argentina - who had occupied the Falkland Islands claiming the "Islas Malvinas" as their territory - and Great Britain. Visit this site for detailed information on the Falkland war.
    * Jan Voorbij

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The Crest Of A Knave Tour: photograph taken during the concert at the Hempstead Nassau Coliseum, NY, November 13 1987.
By kind permission of Bruce Mironov

The Waking Edge

Raising Steam

  • The expression "raising steam" might in this context mean: gathering one's strength and courage to start a new and probably far from easy life.
  • Whereas American blues and folk singers have portrayed working class people travelling the country new opportunities, Anderson here does probably the same, but now it's all about working class people in economically undeveloped parts of England migrating to the cities looking for work during the Thatcher era. I think these lyrics show how he somewhere down the line was influenced by the lyrical content of American country blues. However, here he applies the imagery to the situation in the UK.
    * Jan Voorbij

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Sources:
1. Greg Russo: Flying Colours, The Jethro Tull Reference Manual (Floral Park, N.Y., 2000)
2. Karl Schramm (ed.), Gerard J. Burns: Jethro Tull Songbook (Heidelberg, Germany, 1997)
3. Giles Oakley: The Devil's Music, A History Of The Blues (London, UK, 1976).

 


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Jan Voorbij (1998-2009)