most of us, to me the music itself comes first. I
mean, even if Ian would be singing 'dadada' all the
time, I'd still be a devoted Tull fan. I don't regard
Ian as some philosopher who happens to make some
music merely as a vehicle for his thougths. But he
doesn't sing 'dadada' or trivial 'I love you's' all
the time. Quite on the contrary, the lyrics are just
wonderful. The words add so much to the music.
Although I don't always share Jan's or other people's
interpretations of the lyrics, the views stated on
Jan's Annotated Lyrics Page are a wonderful source of
inspiration to play the old records once again,
listen carefully and explore the ideas behind the
great aspect of it is that most of Ian's themes and
ideas, lyricwise, prove to be very coherent
throughout the years. The fact that Ian was so young
when he started makes it all the more amazing to me.
Above all, discussing the lyrics it's just a lot of
fun. It is all rock and roll, and boy do I like it!
Jan's essay on Aqualung tickled me to write this
little piece with some thoughts of my own. Aqualung.
I think the title song touches on a common theme in
Ian's work, which is his empathy with the dropouts of
society, in this case the homeless old bums of the
big city. This empathy shows throughout the years in
a variety of songs, for instance in 'Orion'
(Stormwatch): "I know you're watching as the
old gent by the station scuffs his toes on old fag
packets lying in the street" or 'Strange
Avenues' (Rock Island): "The wino sleeps
cold coat lined with the money section. Looking like
a a record cover from 1971". (with an
obvious reference to Aqualung) or 'A Small Cigar'
(Nightcap): "By the tube station, there's a
drunk old fool who sells papers in the rush hour. I
hand to him ten small cigars. He smiles, says, 'Son,
God bless you' ", or 'Baker St Muse'
(Minstrel In The Gallery): "And there sits
she no bed, no bread, no butter on a double yellow
line where she can park anytime".
guess is that Ian, being an artist, feels somehow
connected with these unfortunate vagabonds. Artists
too don't fit into the oppressive moulds of society,
the difference with the homeless being that the
artist has found a way to articulate and communicate
his thoughts and feelings and therefore rises 'above'
society, instead of dropping down and out. But even
then, in everyday life the artist feels the pain of
rejection and misunderstanding. Ian refers to this in
a lot of songs, especially in the early years, e.g.
inWind Up: "I didn't mind (...) if they said
I was a fool", in Singing All Day: "Nothing
to see but the crowd keep a-staring at me",
in Thick As A Brick and most of all in Just Trying To
think this theme in Ian's work, i.e.the dropout or
artist versus society is even broader: it's the
individual vs.the masses, i.e. society, organized
religion, the government or other institutions. Think
of Thick As A Brick, Farm On The Freeway, Working
John, Working Joe, et cetera. In many songs Ian seems
to take sides for the individual, artist, thinker,
working man, or at least show empathy in observing
their struggle. This is also the battle of
individuality, creativity and independence against
the faceless, nameless but ever present Big Brother.
Ian's scepticism towards politicians (as
representatives of the powers that be) is eminent in
a number of songs ("don't ask me to the
party, won't be around").
respect to the critique towards organized religion I
feel that the 1971 album Aqualung is linked to the
1995 album Roots To Branches, especially the title
song . Another aspect of Aqualung as an album is that
it is part of a series of rather 'London' based
albums, with references to Hampstead, Highgate,
Picadilly Circus, Baker Street.
Later began a series of albums of the woods and
countryside. Personally, I wouldn't say there is a
'chasm' between the acoustic and the electric 'rock'
side of the music, as Jan states on his Annotations.
On the contrary, I'd say one of Tull's most striking
features is the 'integration' of acoustic music (on
flute, mandolin, and so on) with heavy rock. Martin
is - apart from being a great soloist - also a master
of the heavy riff and well-placed power chord. In my
opinion, this 'integration' goes for every Tull
album, from the very beginning right to Roots To
Branches. To me, this aspect is one of the many
things that make Jethro Tull so interesting and
outstanding, both on their studio albums and live on