Annotations


~ Stand Up ~

(2)

 

 

The "Stand Up" tour programme (1969) also announcing guests Savoy Brown and Terry Reid.
By kind permission of Pete McHugh
(Electrocutas - The Jethro Tull Archive).

 

Fat Man

  • In the humorous song Fat Man, Ian is merely saying that he wouldn't like to be a fat man. He is glad that he is thin, and doesn' t have to put up with the ridicule and harassment that overweight individuals often go through in life. The verse "Too much to carry around with you" can either be interpreted as pertaining to the "baggage" of repeated verbal abuse upon an overweight person's consciousness, or to the literal extra weight that overweight people have to carry around with them. The verse "no chance of finding a woman who will love you in the morning and all the night time too" means that, though overweight men can find a woman of their own, their wives won' t want to make love to them. They would be married because of their love of each other' s personalities, not their physical attributes. Therefore, she would "love" him in the morning, but not "all the night time too." Ian says that he could not have the patience to ignore all of the ridicule that overweight people receive if he were fat: "Hate to admit to myself half my problems came from being fat" is saying that, as an overweight person, the ridicule and shame that you are subject to for looking the way you do is brought upon by yourself. Your own laziness to exercise, as well as the lack of control of your own appetite are the causes of your misfortune. Jokingly, Ian says that he "won' t waste his time feeling sorry for him, I've seen the other side to being thin." The only advantage to being overweight is that you would roll down a mountain faster than a thin person, which isn' t a very good consolation for the emotional torment that many overweight individuals go through, hence it being a joke.
    * Ryan Tolnay

  • This was written as a way to get back at Mick Abrahams after his departure from Tull in January 1969. It's pretty self-explanatory.
    * Julie Hankinson


  • Real Player video clip of
    "Fat Man", performed live at the Pistoia Blues Festival, Italy, July 18, 1999. By kind permission of Laufi.

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We Used To Know

  • For decades I have assumed this song to be about looking back at a relationship that came to an end. It looks like a "sorry song" in which the narrator advises his former loved one to cherish the value of their relationship. And perhaps it is.

  • However, since I read parts of Brian Rabey's yet unpublished book "It's For You! The Magic And Musical Mayhem Of Jethro Tull", I tend to take a different view on this song. In chapter 2 "Jethro Tull christened" I found two quotes that suggest that the song is about the last months of The John Evan Smash, just before they became Jethro Tull. It refers to the period October 1967 - February 1968. Mick Abrahams had just joined The John Evan Smash, which in those days was a seven piece soul band in the process of transforming into a blues band. They wanted to move to London to "raid" the clubs and pubs from there. Since Mick lived in Luton - not far from London - the band moved to this place. But within three days Barrie Barlow, John Evans and the sax players went back to Blackpool. It became clear to them that they wouldn't earn enough money to cater for the needs of 7 people. So the band now consisted of Anderson, Abrahams and Cornick, and Bunker took the vacant drummer's seat. (In his book Rabey describes this process by citing Cornick, Evans and Anderson).

The John Evan Band changed their name to The John Evan Smash when they were picked for the Granada talent show "Firsttimers". This picture was taken on May 3, 1967, in front of the Granada Television studio in Manchester. The television show was broadcasted on May 24 that year. A few months later, in September, the band would make their first recordings with Derek Lawrence. After that, in October the big split took place, and when Mick Abrahams and Clive Bunker joined the John Evan Smash turned into a blues band: the embryonic Jethro Tull. From left to right: Neil Smith (guitar) , Ian Anderson (vocals, harmonica, no flute yet!), Neil Valentine (tenor sax), John Evans (hammond organ), Barrie Barlow (drums), Tony Wilkinson (baritone sax) and Glen Cornick (bass).

  • Now here is the first quote that suggests "We Used To Know" is about this period in the band's history and the above mentioned split-up. Rabey quotes Glenn Cornick who consulted his diary about those days (I added the applicable lines from the lyrics to that song - JV):
    "Luton is also where Clive as well as Mick came from. Ian and I were living in apartments that were just too horrendous. I lived downstairs and he lived upstairs. Luton and Dunstable are doubled towns - Luton being the lower class section and Dunstable the upper class section. Ian and I lived in Luton probably the worst living conditions I ever went through in my life, but we had to live somewhere. I remember we used to share a can of irish stew everyday. The song "We Used To Know" from "Stand up" is about this period. You know the line: "Every day shilling spent"? In England, at that time, your gas supply was on a meter and you used to put coins in it. You'd be in the middle of heating up your Irish stew and the gas would go out, because your money had run out and, hopefully, you would have another coin to get it going again or you'd end up with cold Irish stew. We used shillings and that's "Every day shilling spent"
    ("Remember mornings, shillings spent").

  • The second quote is from the same chapter of Rabey's book. Anderson remembers the Luton period. After the coins and meters Glen tells us about in the above quote, he continues: "I ended up being very cold. ("Nights of winter turn me cold, fears of dying, getting old" and possibly "... shillings spent, made no sense to leave the bed"). Interestingly enough that was where I first put on the prized possession with which my father had furnished me upon my leaving home a few weeks before, which was a huge grey overcoat. I wore that on my first American tour. The reason I started wearing it was because I was very very cold. I was living in an attic room in an old house and I used to keep a glass of water by my bed at night and in the morning if I wanted a sip of water I had to break the ice on the top, it was that cold".

  • In that case this song is not by-gone love that is mourned but splitting up a band of friends that had worked so hard for a long period together in the hope to make it, living their harsh life of touring all over England, playing 6 or 7 days a week without even coming near to breaking through.

  • By the time "Stand Up" was released, the band had finally arrived in Europe and was making its way through the USA. In this songs it looks as if the narrator very well realises what he and the band went through before their breakthrough: "I think about the bad old days we used to know" and "The bad old days they came and went giving way to fruitful years". Their success emerged from working hard and consistently on their music for years: "We ran the race and the race was won by running slowly".

  • The struggle for survival, the frequent change in the line-up of the band resulting in periods of desintegration and building up again, the constant search for new musical directions: it all comes to the fore in the third stanza:
    "Could be soon we'll cease to sound,
    slowly upstairs, faster down.
    Then to revisit stony grounds,
    we used to know."

    There is even a possible reference to this period when the band constantly changed their name to be able to get re-booked at the same places again (losing their sax players on the way):
    "Take what we can before the man says it's time to go".

  • The last verse is a farewell and a good luck wish to the old friends that left. He advises them not to look back in anger and not to forget the adventurous time they spent together, for it will eventually lead to new possibilities:
    "Each to his own way, I'll go mine.
    Best of luck in what you find.
    But for your own sake remember times
    we used to know"
    .
    * Jan Voorbij

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For A Thousand Mothers

  • Several songs on the Stand-Up and Benefit albums reflect the difficult relation between Anderson and his parents during his adolescent years, esp. with his father: "Back To The Family", "For A Thousand Mothers", "Son", possibly "Sossity: You're A Woman", and the later recorded "Just Trying To Be" and "Wind Up".
    Anderson doesn't like these two albums very much, considering them to be "too self-centered". In "For A Thousand Mothers" this difficult relationship comes clearly to the fore.

  • The song is - in the first stanza - written from the point of view of a young man who is determined in his choices for the furure and is starting to become successful ("saying I'm wrong, but I know I'm right"). In spite of the pressure from his parents and their unsollicited advises, he has chosen his own way of doing things:
    "Did you hear father?"
    Calling my name into the night.
    Saying I'll never be what I am now.
    Telling me I'll never find what I've already found"
    .

  • The second stanza appears to be a conversation between the parents. Note that the "baby" mentioned in the first line refers to the "he"-person in the second. (Note: compare the song "She's leaving home" from the Beatles' Sgt. Peppers album; it has a similar emotional quality). The parents are aware of the young man's dreams and have to admit that they came true:
    "Doing the things he's accustomed to do.
    Which at one time it seemed like a dream now it's true"
    . The closing lines are interesting from a psychological point of view: here our narrator is talking again and states that it was the resistance of his parents, their opposing to his ambitions and their disapproval that made him fight even harder to realise them, thus giving way to "fruitful years":
    "And unknowing you made it all happen this way".

  • The title of the song and the verselines:
    "It was they who were wrong,
    and for them here's a song"
    .
    suggests that it is dedicated to all parents, who do not give their children the "room to move" and the "finding out for themselves", needed to develop themselves in the direction they choose. This theme reoccurs in the first part of "Thick As A Brick", where society is criticized for imposing its values onto the young generation, stiffling them. Ian experiences at home as well as those at the Blackpool Grammar School are reflected in the lyrics to that album.
    * Jan Voorbij

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I want to conclude this page with a personal note - the only one I intend to make on this site: I relate to 'Stand Up' in a special way. It was my first Tull-album (though I knew the band for almost a year already from listening to illegal radio stations where "This Was"was aired). I got it from my parents on my 17th birthday in October 1969.
In the few weeks that followed the album changed my taste for music dramatically. It moved me away from Beatles and Rolling Stones, Animals and Byrds, Hollies and Move, from the soul music and the middle-of-the-road music of this era, that I was then interested in so much. I turned to the blues and the American and British underground music and everything that we nowadays would call progressive rock. Beside Tull, my new favorites became Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac, Cream, Soft Machine, Coliseum, Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jimmy Hendrix - to name a few heroes. 'Stand up' also triggered my interest for jazz, ethnic and classical music.
It was not only that Tull from that moment on became a musical love for life: I also discovered music as a form of art, that like poetry and painting requires efforts from us, readers, listeners, spectators - containing a language that give word, image, sound, representation to personal experiences, feelings, worries, thoughts or whatever.
I got specially interested in lyrics, assuming like many of us young students in those days, that every song 'had something special to say, if one was only willing to look for it'. This coincided with literature classes I took for Dutch, English and French, evoking my love for poetry.
I then of course could not foresee, that this website eventually would sprout from this interest.......
* Jan Voorbij


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Last modified: February 27 - 2001

Jan Voorbij (1998-2009)