~ Roots To Branches ~



Photograph taken during the Roots to Branches tour in 1995,
exact location and date remain unknown. By courtesy of
Kevan D. Shaw


  • "Valley", one of the most remarkable and delicate songs of the album, tends to be a reprise of the title track, in the sense that the same subject is considered from a different angle. A working-out, perhaps, of what was stated in "Roots To Branches". It deals once again with intollerance among people who live together and dislike eachother just for being different. It shows where this intollerance eventually leads to.

  • "Valley" was conceived when war in Bosnia raged in the mid-nineties and reached its peak back then. The media daily covered this war: the hostilities and the burned down villages, people on the run for a safe haven, the speeches of war-mongerers like Karazic and Milosovic etc. A war, that for outsiders was so hard to follow, letalone to understand.

  • Groups of people who had been getting along reasonably well for decades, got entangled in all kinds of conflicts. Religious and ethnic differences, political and economical interests, nationalism - within villages and cities, even within families - divided people:
    "Some bad people living further down the valley,
    Not easy for us to do good trade.
    We got snowmelt, snowmelt sweet water;
    they got that valley road that they made"

    and caused the start of a war that in fact had been going on for centuries, tearing the nation apart. In this tense situation it only takes a tiny spark to start a big fire.
    Though they are aware of the sufferings, esp. since they know eachother well living so close together
    ("In the long red, red valley people living here too long "... "people dying here too long"), the hate is passed on from one generation to another and for some reason these groups do not overcome their prejudices regarding 'the others': "In the long red, red valley they only sing the valley song" and ".... they only know the valley song"."Red" might be a reference to the bloodshed.

  • The absurdity of the situation is masterfully illustrated in the chorus:
    "Holding hands on the hillside.
    Showing love to your brother -
    your sister and your mother -
    but we hate those people in the valley."

    And then, totally unexpected, the narrator takes us back to the basics. He calls on Moses, the great visionary Hebrew prophet who according to the legend received the Ten Commandments from God, that still are to be considered as a vital fundament of moral values in Western culture:
    "Has anybody seen Moses?
    Get him off that mountain.
    Bring back the tablets of stone"
    in other words: let's get back to the 'untwisted words' from the title track, live up to it and do not harm anyone: ".... leave the other man's wife alone". (Note: regarding the context this is no allusion to adultery). Finally, this stanza contains a sneer towards the clergy and their dubious role in this conflict: "It's a wise, wise prophet who keeps his own council". Up to now the Serbian orthodox church still supports Milosovic....
    * Jan Voorbij

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* Martin goes for it during the Roots to Branches tour, 1995.

Dangerous Veils

Beside Myself

  • In February 1994 Jethro Tull performed for the first time in the Indian cities Bombay, Bangalore and Madras. A year later, in February 1995, Ian spent a fruitful vacation in Goa, India: from these visits he drew the inspiration to write a series of "India-oriented" songs. "Beside Myself" from this album, the instrumental piece "In The Times Of India (Bombay Valentine)" from the Divinities album, "Sanctuary" and "A Better Moon" from The Secret Language Of Birds album. Most of these songs have a sad undertone, giving word and feel to the sometimes horrifying things he saw there.
    Apart from that, he discovered the bamboo flute that he applied on these four albums in addition to the standard silver flute and he learned himself the apropreate fingering, thus improving his technique of flute playing which was necessary for being able to play the classical oriented pieces of Divinities.

  • In an interview Ian explained that he wrote this moving and intense song when he became aware of the enormous contrast between luxurious hotels where he stayed and the horrible situation in which thousands of children have to maintain themselves: "Out in the middle distance, several tragedies are playing". On stage in Tel Aviv (Nov. 12 2000) he explained that the inspiration for this song came from a little girl - eight years old - working at a place down Falkland Street in Bombay "where anything goes, anything your heart desires or your lower body craves like a little girl, a little boy, old hag, old man, donkey, sheep or goat". ( This subject reoccurs in "Sanctuary" on "The Secret Language Of Birs", Anderson's third solo album).

  • No one seems to care about these children ("Cities like these have no shame"). To survive they have but a few options, "messing down in the streets ....": theft, ("I saw you taking money in the shadows - in the shadows by the stations there"), prostitution (see "Sanctuary") or toiling in all kinds of sweat shops ("that work paint..."). His observations bring about mixed feelings. On one hand it puzzles him, makes him feel shocked and depressed: "I'm beside myself" (...) "Between the guilt and charity - I feel the wimp inside of me" and he realises that this misery is endless: "still more tragedies are playing". On the other hand he experiences deep sympathy for these children's ability to maintain themselves: "I'm so proud of you - Swimming up from the deep blue" and wishes them the future every child should be entitled to: "I'll wish you up a silver train to carry you to school, bring you home again".
    * Jan Voorbij

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Photograph taken during the Rock Island tour in 1991,
exact location and date remain unknown. By courtesy of
Kevan D. Shaw

Wounded, Old And Treacherous

  • "There was a time when love was the law.
    There was a time for the tooth and the claw."

    There are a couple of echoes in these lines: the idea of Nature being 'red in tooth and claw' comes from the poet Tennyson:

    Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,
       Such splendid purpose in his eyes,
       Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,
    Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,
    Who trusted God was love indeed
       And love Creation's final law --
       Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw
    With ravine, shriek'd against his creed --

    ('In Memoriam A.H.A.' section LVI)

    Lines 6 and 7, above, would seem to be the direct source for this lyric. There is however another possibility: one of the main credos of Aleister Crowley's occult school is as follows:
    Love is the law, love under will.
    * Andy Jackson

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At Last, Forever

Photograph taken during the Rock Island tour in 1991,
exact location and date remain unknown. By courtesy of
Kevan D. Shaw

Stuck In The August Rain

Another Harry's Bar

* Note: According to Greg Russo there were five more tracks recorded for "Roots To Branches", that didn't make it to the album.(G. Russo: "Flying Colours, the Jethro Tull reference manual", Floral Park, NY, 2000 ; p. 167, 256)

The "Roots To Branches" tour programme (1995).
By kind permission of Pete McHugh
Electrocutas - The Jethro Tull Archive).

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Roots To Branches" annotations page 1


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Last modified: December 23 - 2000

Jan Voorbij (1998-2009)