~ Songs from the wood ~
comments on the Caswell essay
By John Benninghouse
I would like to discuss the music and lyrics of Ian Anderson/Jethro Tull. In doing so I will approach the art of Ian Anderson within and without Jethro Tull. I have never attempted an analysis of this kind before in the field of music. However, I have attempted an endevor of this nature in film using auteur theory. This idea states that the director of a film should be viewed as its author. So Stanley Kubrick is the "author" of 2001: A Space Odyssey in the same way that Charles Dickens is the author of Oliver Twist.
I think it
is fair to approach the present topic in like manner as
the vast majority of Jethro Tull's music and lyrics have
been written by Ian Anderson. My "thesis," if
you like, is that while examining Ian Anderson's lyric s
as a body of work which contains many ideas, the primary
theme is that modern (Western?) life is somehow empty
because of a lack of historical perspective and a loss of
tradition. This "dislocation" leads to a
"materialistic" way of life which threatens the
environment and humanity itself. Although this theme
unfolds throughout Anderson's career, it is perhaps most
overtly articulated in a series of three albums released
in the late 1970's: Songs From the Wood, Heavy Horses,
and Stormwatch. The use of an urban/rural dichotomy and
appropriation of images from English/Celtic/Pagan
folklore are the most prominent lyrical devices used by
Anderson in elaborating this theme. Musically this
dichotomy is represented by a juxtaposition of acoustic
and electric ins truments. For live performances,
Anderson adopted the persona of the medieval jester which
I will elaborate upon later.
Blues With a Feeling
of Tull's first album, This Was, shows a variety of
influences and the presence of Ian Anderson's flute made
the music (at least on the surface) unique in pop music
at that time. He has openly acknowledged the influence of
jazz flautist/saxophonist Roland Kirk on his style. In
fact, the first song he learned to play on the flute,
Kirk's "Serenade for a Cuckoo", appears on This
Was. Unlike later efforts, Anderson was not the sole
Shortly after the release of their first album and a visit to the BBC where they recorded a version of T-Bone Walker's "Stormy Monday Blues," Abrahms left the band. At this point Anderson felt free to begin his songwriting in earnest, free of the blues tradition. This new found freedom was explained in the song "Play in Time" from 1970's Benefit: "Blues were my favorite color till I looked around and found another song that I felt like singing Trying so hard to reach you, playing what must be played, what must be sung-- and it's what I'm singing Talking to people in my way".
The first song he wrote in this new phase was "A Christmas Song." It's an acoustic piece that heavily features mandolin. I don't want to mislead the reader because the mandolin was featured even while Abrahms was still in the band. I refer to the early B-side "Love Story." But "A Christmas Song" is completely acoustic unlike "Love Story." The song's meter is also somewhat irregular and the lyrics include a bit of social commentary:
"When you're stuffing yourselves at the Christmas parties You'll laugh when I tell you to take a running jump. You're missing the point that does not need making: The Christmas spirit is not what you drink".
It is here that Ian's views on drugs and alcohol emerge. From the beginning to this day he has remained a staunch opponent of them. In a 1969 interview in Hit Parader he expresses his dismay at having to play for people under the influence:
"It's a little disturbing playing to people who are, to quote, turned on. It's difficult to know how to play to them. It's disturbing to know that they must to some extent imagine that I personally, and the other fellows in the band, are just the same as them, y'know?"
years later he explained that he avoided intoxication
because he felt it interfered with his creative process.
(Although he has said that he enjoys an occasional
Lowenbrau!) Of course at the time thi s made him somewhat
of an outcast. Audiences and performers alike imbibed and
ingested drugs of all sorts. Unable to express the
sentiments overtly without ostracizing much of his
audience, his opinions towards drugs were "bottled
up" and arose as bitterness and anger in his music
towards the general culture of the times.
can you laugh when your own mother is hungry? And how can
you smile when your reason for smiling are wrong?"
Tull's second and third albums continued the move from blues orthodoxy. More acoustic songs ap pear and an adaptation of a Bach lute piece is presented as well. According to Craig Thomas in his liner notes for the 25th Anniversary box set, it was during this time that Tull began to use an electric/acoustic (or blues&R+B/folk) dichotomy in their mus ic to represent "...the clash between the individual and society, between the rural and urban, between happiness (however qualified) and disillusion...." During this period, Tull toured heavily. As drummer Clive Bunker noted, Ian became more introverted wh en off-stage. He would retire to his hotel room early to write more songs. Being the singer, songwriter and frontman made him de facto leader of the band. Ian felt the pressure and quickly became disillusioned with life on the road. These feelings and th ose of a sense of separation from his generation are evident on Benefit. He tells us that he means to "spend more time on the inside" and that there is "no time for everything." A sense of dislocation is evident in "For Michael Collins, Jeffery and Me." Mic hael Collins was one of the 3 astronauts who made the first flight to the moon. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked in the surface of the moon, Michael Collins stayed in the lunar module. Jeffrey was Jeffrey Hammond who was in the John Evans Band, a precursor to Jethro Tull, and a good friend of Ian's. He was the subject of a couple previous songs, "A Song for Jeffery" and "Jeffery Goes to Leicester Square." Perhaps Ian felt that as Tull became more popular and John Evans joined the band on keyboards, Jeffery and the simpler "good old days" when they were just starting out in the music business were being left behind. If Ian was completely against overindulgence, then bassist Glenn Cornick was his polar opposite in this respect. His habit of drinking and chasing women (the life of a "typical" rock star) distanced himself from the band and he left in 1970. He went on to form Wild Turkey, named after his favorite drink. His replacement was the aforementioned Jeffrey Hammond who took on an extra "Hammond" in his surname upon joining. As Ian has stated, he was recruited not because he was the most technically proficient bassist but because he was a friend and got along with the rest of the band.
The Minstrel in the Gallery
Hammond's first appearance was on the Aqualung album. Judson Caswell points to three elements of this album that are important here. First, there is social commentary on organized religion (specifically Christianity/Church of England) and Ian 's views on the less valorous aspects of human nature as seen through the lower classes. (And, as I will argue, the upper classes.) Secondly, the acoustic/electric dichotomy comes to the fore. Finally, Ian's lyrics become more "vulgar." Ian's views on religion are quite clear in the songs "My God" and "Wind Up." He clearly sees it as a case of style over substance:
what have you done? Locked Him (God) in his golden cage
Made him bend to your religion" and "He's not
the kind you have wind up on Sundays"
seen how Ian's lyrics became more vulgar in his
description of the lower classes. His stage presence also
developed in this direction. Increasingly the flute
became a mock-phallus and comments such as "My Gawd!
Me microph one stand has an erection!" became more
frequent. This appropriation of vulgarity on record and
in concert was explained by Anderson himself, "There
came a point for me when I started doing it (the antics)
for myself, and it gradually evolved into being, for me,
at any rate, a true physical expression of the music we
proved to be a popular album in America. During this time
the band were featured in Rolling Stone magazine with Ian
on the cover. Of relevence here is a quote from the
article refering to America: "Everybody is sort of
grabbing at something, out for theselves. Particularly on
the East Coast....You get the feeling that you're in the
midst of some incredible game....everybody is rude,
pushy, grabby...." Keep this in mind as we continue.
"See there a son is born and we pronounce him fit to fight". Here I think Anderson is trying to say that society conditions its young to take part in a life that is, at its core, a competition.
make a man of him Put him to a trade". Here society
decides what the individual will do not the individual
him/herself. In his analysis of Thick As a Brick Tull fan
Paul Tarvydas interprets the album as describing society
supplanting "freewill" with its own values. He
seems to argue that the lyrics implore people to
"think for themselves" without the influence of
society, that the mere act of a society enculturating its
citize ns is wrong. I disagree with this interpretation.
I think it difficult to argue that a child has the
ability to exercise any kind of "freewill" in
terms of determining their place in society. A child's
environment is going to be an influence. An infant cannot
choose which language to learn. It can be argued that
it's perfectly natural for a child to emulate its parents
in certain ways. I think that Ian Anderson was trying to
criticize the quality of what a society imparts to its
young not the quantity.
song is "First Post." I interpret this to be
equivalent to the "starting post" in a race,
namely the "rat race" that is modern life.
(Remember his comments about New York.)
"Animelee" follows. The title (the first 3
songs are instrumentals) suggests a fight between animals
or at least a general sense of turmoil. The last
introductory song, "Tiger Toon" , brings in a
specific animal, the tiger, known as a predator and makes
reference to the cartoon suggesting the what follows is a
After a six-song cycle which makes use of animals in the lyrics to satirize people, a second cycle begins. The theme shifts to Anderson's reaction to the scathing criticisms of the press that his music has elicited. This cycle is started with the song "Left Right." Here is where I think the 1993 sequencing may have distorted what was planned in 1972. The song has no references to the rock critics th at prevail in the next three songs. In fact it introduces us to the idea of a play that is significant in the last three songs and on the next album. The song introduces us to "The master playwright." Perhaps this is reference to human nature. He "urges you to play right/play wrong." I take this to mean that people can be both good and bad. This idea is reiterated later in the song but now the narrator describes us as dancing around maypoles while the vicar toasts our pagan ceremony. It is not clear exactly what this means but I think it may have something to do with Christianity's adoption of pagan holidays as its own. (This very idea would be explicitly stated on the sleeve of their 1976 "Solstice Bells" EP.) "Scenario " begins the third cycle which makes use of the metaphor of the passion play. (Here again I find my interpretation at odds with fellow fan Paul Tarvydas'. He sees these songs as being about freewill vs. a "God-driven pre-destiny." This interpretation requires that the thematic unity of the alb um be broken in contrast to the previous and next two albums. My interpretation tries to integrate the songs of the last cycle with those of the previous cycles.) In it Anderson mentions "the age of man." In the song he says that before the beginning of this age, men lived peacefully but that at some point they were told that they "have to learn to hate the things you fear." After this, a "passion play" begins. Fathers and sons are now at each other's throats. The play is modern life - life in modern, urban city. "The actors milling helplessly--- / The script is blowing out to sea" "The lines you'll have to improvise / The words are written in the eyes / Of politicians who despise their fathers." "And so the play necessitates / That all you boys participate / In fierce competition to eliminate each other." (Once again recall Ian's comments about New York City.) But the narrator intimates that these values are not innate. Society passes them down; "But what the hell, we didn't even pass an audition." The last cycle refers to "god/God." Before the "age of man" when hate and fear did not prevail, man invented his own god that reflected his attitudes.
long years of ancient time Stood alone of friend of mine
Reflected by the ever-burning sigh Of a god who happened
the everlasting rub: neither am I good nor bad I'd give
up my halo for a horn and the horn for the hat I once
In an interview from this time, Anderson says, "We're all animals, competing-aggressive, out to win at the expense of others. And we have our codes, our rules and laws that we've invented which are convenient with the context that we operate. At this point in history the rules are one way. They change throughout the ages. But if aggression and competition is what everybody wants to do then I'll go along with it......The overall theme of Warchild is that all of us have a very aggressive instinct which is something we're occasionally able to use for the betterment of o urselves. At other times, aggression at its worst is used as a very destructive element. When it's not at its worst it remains merely comical. Hence the line from "Bungle in the Jungle," "Let's bungle in the jungle / Well it's all right by me." Besides importing "Solitaire" and the term "bungle" from the aborted 1972 sessions, Anderson also resurrected the song "Skating Away On the Thin Ice of the New Day." It reiterates the ideas of "Scenario." There was a time when competition was not the name of the game.
"You were bred for humanity And sold to society". Again society intervenes to make a change for the worse. People are empty (feeling like you're the only person in the audience) and are searching for something greater ("looking for a sign that the Univer sal Mind has written you into the Passion Play.") Modern society indoctrinates people to see every day as a "new day," that is, not to seek reference points in tradition. This is skating on thin ice. We have quotes from Ian where he expresses his view that human nature has a malleability to it. Individuals'actions are dictated by rules that have some contingency upon environment and have changed in the course of time as the environment has changed. In that same interview he says that the prevailing world- view is that of competition and aggressiveness. His song lyrics reflect this view but show his dissatisfaction with it and perhaps show an alternative route to be followed. Without a doubt, the lyrics up to this point clearly concentrate on the aggressive side of human nature but this is a result of emphasis. The few "love" songs that had appeared until this point show another side to people. Witness the lyrics to "Inside" from Benefit or the line "it 's only the giving that makes you what you are" from "Wondrin'Aloud" on Aqualung. So what we seem to have is Anderson saying that in the early 1970's the prevailing environment (perhaps exemplified for him by New York City) is one that brings out the worst in people. Also of note here is another song from these sessions, "March the Mad Scientist." A song with pagan connotations, it imagines the month of March as the engineer of spring. More on this later.... As a side line, this whole line of thought reminds me of my understanding of Adam Smith's ideas. Smith h ad a similar view of human nature. He wanted to make the world a better place and in order to do this one had to contend with human nature. So his idea was to modify existing or create new social institutions that direct man's nature for public benefit and progress.
At this point in his paper, Judson Caswell describes the historical jester. He describes him as being sly, sardonic, irreverent, plebian-orientated and subversive. This image had not been invoked until the Warchild album with line "Think I 'll sit down and invent some fool--some Grand Court Jester" from "Back-Door Angels." Further on Anderson describes himself throught the eyes of a rock critic as "court-jesting." Even though this song dates back two years or so it doesn't appear until this album. So it would seem that with this album Anderson embraces the idea of the jester (see the picture above), reminding the listener of his role as entertainer and subversive commentator on the status quo. But right away he descibes the limitations of this jes ter. The next time this jester he has invented casts the dice, "he'll throw a six or a two" refering to craps where a first roll of a two is a loss and a six gives you a chance to continue. The worst-case scenario is a loss while the best is merely a chance to continue. Anderson doesn't offer any easy answers or quick fixes. Any change in the environment that he sees as bringing out the worst in us will come about over a long period of time and perhaps only with much effort.
It is then
probably no coincidence that he sequenced the album to
have "Sealion" come next. Judson Caswell has
done a great job in interpreting this song already so I
won't go into a lengthy discussion. What he basically
says is that the carnival, which is used in the song, is
traditionally a place of revelry and, most importantly,
where convention and propriety are inverted. A sense of
"prestige from below. " He describes how the
song uses the imagery of the carnival to suggest possible
hegemony by the reversal of the social order only to
write this possibility off. So with Warchild Ian Anderson
continued to elaborate his ideas on human nature. However
with Tull's next album, Minstrel in the Gallery, the wit
who had slyly commented upon modern society and human
nature turned on itself.
"Then he called the band down to the stage and he looked at all the friends he'd made". After a brief excursion into Norse mythology with "Cold Wind to Valhalla," come three songs that, however obliquely, express his troubled personal life. "Black Satin Dancer" would seem to be a tribute to his (ex)wife and the better days they shared. In it is a line that seems quite familiar: "In all your giving, given is the answer." Then "Requiem" appears to mourn the loss:
"Well, my lady told me, "Stay." I looked aside and walked away along the Strand Saw her face in the tear-drop black cab window. Fading into the traffic; I watched her go". The next song, "One White Duck/010=Nothing At All," is a personal favorite of mine. It continures the sentiments of the previous song. If Anderson is a minstrel, he's a wandering minstrel. In the first half of the piece he describes his inability to settle down. Indeed the first line sees him leaving: "There's a haze on the skyline, to wish me on my way." He can't settle down because he needs to continue his art which requires him to be away from home: "And the motorway's stretching right out to us all..." His wife is left with a postcard. The second half of the song starts a trend of self-deprecating lyrics which would spill over into the next song, "Baker St. Muse," a 16+ minute mini-epic. In the song at hand, Anderson seems to blame himself for the dissolution of his marriage:
"...and my zero to your power of ten equals nothing at all." At this point it is clear that the lyrics of Minstrel in the Gallery have very little to do with the cynical world-view of the previous albums. He describes his former partner as "giving" when much of the lyrics of the previous albums involve "taking." Here an alternative point of view is given prominence. Not everyone is a hedonistic animal out for their own gain. At least on the personal level, giving and caring can prevail.
To ring in
the new year, Jeffery Hammond-Hammond left the band in
January 1976. He was replaced by John Glascock formerly
of the band Carmen which had opened for Tull on a
previous American tour. The band started work on a new
album concurrently with Ian and David Palmer writing a
stage musical. Anderson and Palmer had English pop star
Adam Faith in mind for their leading man. When Faith
proved unavailable, the project was scrapped. But the
rest of the band took a keen interest in it and the
original album was set aside while the musical was
transformed into their next album, Too Old to
Rock'n'Roll, Too Young to Die.
close out the 70's with a trilogy of albums that would
most eloquently and cohesively express Anderson's
world-view. He would co ntinue with these themes in later
albums but these attempts would prove to be expansions or
recapitualtions of the ideas stated in these three works.
It is in these albums that the urban/rural dichotomy
comes to the fore and Celtic/pagan myth and imagery,
which had been used sparingly in the past, is used
prominently. Before I get to the first album in the
trilogy, Songs From the Wood, I want to dispell a common
myth. It is often thought that the turn to the more
rustic, folky music on Songs From the Wood was the result
of Ian Anderson having moved from London to a home in the
country. In a documentary made by BBC TV during the 1978
tour, Anderson explicitly states that this musical change
was the result of his longing to move out of the city,
not because of an actual change of residence.
I have already discussed "Christmas Song" and "Pan Dance" is an instrumental written for a dance troupe, "Pan's People" that performed with Tull in 1974. The final track, "March the Mad Scientist," is not an imperative but rather a description of the month. March, being the month of the vernal equinox, is portrayed as the formulator of spring. Although the song dates from 1974, it had no place on an album then. Songs From the Wood is ripe with folk instrumentation but it is not folk music. There is electric guitar and rock drums but it is not rock music. It is a complex mixture of both these musics and more. (Regarding the appropriation of English folk music Anderson has said, "It's more than a liking for the instrument. It's a response to the music--that droning quality-Celtic music. It's something special. One can't really pin down what. It has to be some kind of folk memory." ) It is also noteworthy that this musical break with their past involved the inclusion of "additional material" by David Palmer and Martin Barre. This album was more of a group effort than past albums.
In her article "Love From the Fields" Peg Aloi describes three emphases that give the lyrics a distinctively pagan bent: 1) rural settings that often describe magical or sacred sites such as stone circl es, 2) folklore and descriptions of pre-Christian/Celtic traditions and 3) a view of love and sex that is romantic and "earthy." We will see these elements at play briefly. But first I want to say a few things about Songs From the Wood in the larger context of Tull's career up to this point. I should note that my own knowledge of Celtic folklore is quite limited so I will rely on Ms. Aloi's work (and others) in pointing out and decoding Celtic/pagan references in Tull's songs. Previous Tull albums have bee n generally cynical and quite trenchant with regards to modern society. With the album at hand, these elements are inverted. A largely celebratory mood is invoked with the lyrics in praise of nature and of past rural life. Previous albums portrayed modern life as being spirtually hollow and in decay while the current album portrays a way of life that Anderson sees as full of meaning with a sense of community and respect for nature. (This environmental heme will be most prominent in the final album of the t rilogy, Stormwatch.) Songs From the Wood begins with the title track:
me bring you songs from the wood To make you feel much
better than you could know". These lines are sung in
a madrigal-like acapella chorus. The narrator wants to
show us "how the garden grows" and to bring us
"love from the field." He urges us to
"join the chorus if you can." He calls us to
become a part of larger community pursuit of a greater
good. Contrast this with the criticisms evident on Thick
As a Brick. It would seem that An derson is trying to
construct a set of values that would be appropriate for
society to pass onto its young. In an interview the
following year, he would reveal how he has integrated
some of the ideas on the album into his own life:
"[rather than spending his money on drugs, parties
and cars] I would rather have something tangible at my
disposal and also something I can feel a little bit
responsible for. That's one thing money buys: the right
to acquire responsibility for things or people or animals
or whatever." (I have also read that after college,
Anderson wanted to become a forester. In a more recent
interview, he has stated that he would like to start a
wild life preservation trust.)
do you never sleep--does the green still run deep in your
heart? Or will these changing times, motorways,
powerlines, keep us apart? Well I don't think so. I saw
some grass growing through the pavements today"
all as to their ways, and learn the secrets that they
In agrarian societies fertility of all types is held to be sacred. Caswell quotes Lloyd: "Nowhere does this intimate consonance with nature show clearer than in the erotic folk songs." This relationship to nature could indeed become quite "intimate." One of the most sacred Celtic holidays was Beltane. It was the time of the year when seeds were being sown and so fertility was especially important. Young couples would copulate in the woods and in the furrows of the fields. It was believed that their sexual energy would assist the growth of the crops. In this context sex is not something dirty or to be kept behind closed doors. It is a positive thing. It is life-giving and, to a certain extent, a public concern since the survival of the community depended upon the fertility of the crops and animals. The first side of the album ends with "Ring Out Solstice Bells" which has been discussed already. Instead we move to "Velvet Green." It is an erotic song sung by a man who boasts that he's "young girl's fancy and an old maid's dream." Copulation is described in natural imagery:
if we live the lie, let's lie in trust On golden
daffodils to catch the silver stram That washes out the
wild oat seed on Velvet Green".
dream as lovers under the stars Of civilizations raging
afar And the ragged dawn breaks on your battle scars As
you walk home cold and alone upon Velvet Green".
Notice we find only the second brief mention of
modern/urban society on the album. It would be the last.
Horses followed in 1978. Many of the songs are about
animals and the lyrics continue much of the rustic
tradition of its predecessor. The album is a bit darker,
however, with more references to modern civilization. The
music too reflects this change. The more traditional
rock'n'roll sounds of electric guitar and the trap kit
are more prominent.
opens with "Rover." In it the narrator compares
himself to man's best friend. Just as a loyal dog often
wanders off at a distraction so too does the narrator's
romantic devotion: "I need the pillow of your hair
in which to hide my head. I'm simple in my sadness;
resourceful in remorse. Then I'm down strainng at the
lead~ holding on a windward course".
This idea of "the rush of winter" would be seized upon later in 1978 as Anderson wrote songs for Tull's next album.
documentary about the band produced by the BBC in 1978,
the band can be seen rehearsing and performing "Dark
Ages," a song from Stormwatch which came out in
1979. He explains how the song is about his idea tha t
humanity was in the late 1970's entering something akin
to the Dark Ages of several hundred years ago. This is
mainly the result of destruction of the environment. So
the album title comes from Ian's idea that he is watching
a storm coming that will put mankind into a kind of
winter in which the environment will be destroyed. The
album cover is shows Anderson bundled up in coat and
mittens holding a set of binoculars. In the lenses of the
binoculars are images of oil rigs and lightning bolts.
The green a nd brown imagery of the previous two album
covers has been replaced by blue, gray and black. The
band logo takes the form of a digital readout like that
of an alarm clock. The album presents itself in a very
contemporary vein. Nonetheless it's easy to see it as the
last in a trilogy. It doesn't look to nature or the past
for a better way of life but instead calls for action in
the present to save nature lest humanity suffer a
terrible fate. This is illustrated on the back of the
album cover. It portrays a co astal area with oil
refineries on land and oil rigs off in the sea. The whole
area is covered with massive amounts of snow while a
gigantic polar bear rampages along the coast. In the
clear sky are several birds, the constellation of Orion (
the name of o ne of the songs) and an angel, presumably
representing Gabriel who's come to blow his horn
signalling the Apocolypse. (Unfortunately, the angel's
face is obscured by a bar code.)
rig and diggers dig their shallow grave but we'll be
saved and what we crave is North Sea Oil". There
have been many oil spills in the North Sea which have
affected the environment of Anderson's homeland,
"stones" here refer to the ring of stones known
as Dun Ringill on the northern coast of Scotland. Once
again Anderson refers to ancient tradition as a source of
inspiration and comfort for modern man. I n the song, he
perhaps describes a riual taking place: We'll wait in
stone circles "til the force comes through, lines
join in faint discord and the stormwatch brews a concert
of Kings as the white sea snaps at the heels of a soft
prayer whispered". Is Anderson saying that he and a
small group of others will take refuge from the oncoming
"winter" by taking refuge in more
"earth-friendly" ways of living and "ride
the storm out" as it were?
Tull would enter the 80's with a new look, a new sound and a new line-up. During the recording of Stormwatch bassist John Glascock died from heart disease. This had a great impact on the band. The exact details of this period are sketchy but the rift between Ian Ande rson and drummer Barriemore Barlow widened causing the latter to leave the band after the tour in support of the album. Barlow and Glascock were good friends so his death must have hit Barlow the hardest of any in the group. The album was finished with An derson on bass. There is nothing on the album cover to indicate Glascock died. No dedication, no "he'll be missed." His credits are in a smaller type and separate from the rest of the band's. Another supposed bone of contention was that Anderson put his own bass playing more forward in the mix of the album than Glascock's or indeed any previous bass player's work. Whatever really happened, Barlow was soon out the door. Meanwhile, Fairport Convention bassist Dave Pegg was brought into the group.
And further on
As 1980 began, Ian Anderson began work on a solo album. He brought long-time cohort Martin Barre in on guitar as well as Dave Pegg who at the time had only recorded one song with Tull. American drummer Mark Craney was recruited as well as keyboard/violin virtuoso Eddie Jobson who had previously played with Roxy Music and the prog supergroup UK. His use of synthesizers was particularly attractive to Anderson. He wanted to make an album that was very contemporary and allow him to experiment with the rel atively new instrument. The acoustic elements of Tull would be eschewed in favor of modern technology.
After the album was recorded (which Anderson described as being a very enjoyable experience) the record company decided that it should be released as a Je thro Tull album. And so David Palmer and John Evans were effectively booted out. The resulting album, A, shocked most Tull fans. (And would probably have even if were to have been released as an Anderson solo album.)
stated earlier in this paper, A marks the beginning of
what I label the third period in Tull's history.
Musically, synthesizers would play a more prominent role
and Tull's lyrics would generally rehash earlier themes
or elaborate upon them. This is not to say that Tull has
not recorded any important music since 1979. Indeed, they
have recorded some of their best music during this
period. And as Anderson approached and entered middle
age, some new ideas arose in his lyrics and previous
themes took on new meanings within this new context. The
point is that the lyrics from this period are marked
overall by recapitulation and variation of themes that
arose in earlier periods.
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