An introduction to
"20 Years Of Jethro Tull"
The year 1988 saw the celebration of Jethro
Tull's 20th anniversary. Initially Chrysalis Records had
no intention to pay any special attention to this
jubilee, but pressed by many letters from fans the
company decided to come up with previously unreleased
Chrysalis thought it best to involve two
fans - David Rees and Martin Webb - in order to compose a
collection that the fans would like and so would be a
commercial success. Instead of the half-hearted promotion
of Tull albums over the years, Chrysalis now came up with
the idea of releasing a five album boxed set, another
double album, a video, a TV special and a radio series.
In the end three of these plans materialized: an 80
minute video titled "The First Twenty Years", a
double album with the most well known Tull-songs and -
after much discussion - a boxed set "20 Years Of
Jethro Tull - The Definitive Collection".
The latter was a real sensation as it
focussed on previously unreleased material. It contained
65 songs, of which only eleven were released on albums
before in the same form. Included were live versions of
classic songs, singles and B-sides, early radio sessions,
unreleased masters, tracks that never made it to albums
like 'Aqualung', 'Songs From The Wood' and 'Broadsword
And The Beast' and finally one new song: 'Part Of The
The collection was a true gem, shining a
different light on the evolution of the band's music and
its versatility and it was warmly welcomed by the music
The boxed set included a beautifully designed album
booklet with full colour photo's, a history of the band,
a Tull-tree and data on the songs of this compilation.
Stormy Monday Blues
"They called it stormy Monday,
but Tuesday is as just as bad
Oh, they called it, they called it stormy monday,
but Tuesday, Tuesday is as just as bad
Oh, Wednesday is worst And Thursday oh so sad
The eagle flyies on Friday now,
Saturday I'll go out to play
Oh, the eagle, the eagle flyies on Friday,
Saturday I'll go out and play
Sunday I'll go to church,
and I fall on my knees and pray
I say, Lord have mercy, Lord have
mercy on me
But Lord, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy on me
You know I'm crazy 'bout my baby
Lord, please send my baby back on to me
Help me out here man, help me out
Sun rise in the east, it set up in the west
Yes, the sun rise in the east baby,
and it set up in the west
It's hard to tell, it's hard to tell, it's hard
Which one, which one, which one a little bad
Yeah! Go ahead Do it one more time
Oh, the eagle flyies on Friday
Saturday I'll go out to play
Oh, the eagle flyies on Friday
You know Saturday I'll go out to play
Sunday I'll go out to the signify church
Oh when I'll fall down on my knees and pray
I say, Lord have mercy Lord have mercy on me
Lord, Lord, Lord have mercy on me
Please, have mercy on me
You know I'm crazy, crazy 'bout my baby
Please, send her back, send her back on to me
The song was recorded by Jethro Tull
in the BBC studio in late - probably December -
1968, together with some songs from the
"This Was" album like the version of
"A Song For Jeffrey" in this
collection. A few weeks after that session Mick
Abrahams, who plays lead guitar here, left the
* Jan Voorbij
Jack Frost And The Hooded
Frost' is not really an important
part of folk myth as such, just an excuse for any
child to dress up and play the part of 'Winter'.
But it's a nice part of children's stories, very
easy to draw a picture of this 'Mr. Frost'
I guess the song uses Jack Frost and the Crow to
symbolise rather cruel figures, causing bad luck
or just plain old discomfort. In the first two
verses, they are speaking - telling us to count
our blessings since there are people more
unfortunate than ourselves at that time of year:
"Why not spare a
thought this day for those who have no flame
to warm their bones at Christmas time?" (and)
" .... there's
some who have no coin to save for turkey, wine of
Even though we 'curse' them, they
are giving out some very humanitarian
advice! Maybe they're not so bad after all,
these two? Maybe they're just misunderstood?
But in the final verse, they warn that we, too
(the lucky ones) could end up spending Christmas
in their 'dark' company one of these
"The Lord may find
you wanting, let your good fortune disappear.
All homely conforts blown away and all that's
left to show
is to share your joy at Christmas time
with Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow".
Good fortune may indeed
disappear. And you get the feeling that Jack
and the Crow wouldn't be too heart-broken about
When I was travelling in Skye in April 1988, I
noticed a dead crow had been strung up on a tree
-- clearly to deter other crows from attacking
the new-born lambs. One of the many Beltane
incantations used in Scotland runs:
"This I give to thee, preserve thou my
horses. This to thee, preserve thou my sheep.
This I give to thee, O fox! Spare thou my lambs.
This to thee, O hooded crow! This to thee, O
In other words, an offering was made to the good
and bad creatures or spirits, in order to secure
a fruitful and prosperous year ahead.
* Andy Jackson
In most of Britain, the Carrion Crow
is a large, solitary, totally black bird. In
Scotland, the same species has a grey back, and
is called a "Hooded
Crow", because of its
appearence. I don't know the story behind the
song, but crows are considered quite intelligent
and I expect there are a few folk stories about
them. Hooded Crows are fairly common on Skye, and
fit the context. They are carrion birds which
have been alleged to attack young lambs - they
might be thought of as the Northern European
equivalent of vultures. Thus, people tend not to
think of their hardship at Christmas, as the song
suggests. In parts of Scotland, a nickname for
the bird is a 'Hoodie'. The bird on the cover of
'Crest Of A Knave' is a Hooded Crow.
* Neil R. Thomason
Recorded in June 1981 during
"The Broadsword And The Beast"
sessions, it was released as the B-side of the
"Coronach" UK single in 1986.
In the introduction to "Broadsword And the
Beast" I stated that the album reflects the
atmosphere of crisis of the early eighties. Most
of the songs include elements of uncertainty
about the future, threat, fear or even dispair.
That goes also for this 'Broadsword' song, as
well as for 'Too Many Too', 'I'm Your Gun' and
'Down At The End Of Your Road'.
* Jan Voorbij
I'm Your Gun
"Maxim and Browning",
"Stoner, Kalashnikov" are the
names of inventors of several kinds of automatic
guns, pistols and revolvers.
Hiram Maxim invented the world's first practical
machine gun. Before Maxim's machine gun, the only
thing resembling a machine gun was the
multiple-barreled Gatling gun, which had no
trigger (turning a crank fired the gun) and
required two people to fire (one to aim it and
one to turn the crank). Also, it frequently
jammed. Maxim's gun was the first true machine
gun, where one operator held a trigger down to
fire a continuous stream of bullets until the
trigger was released (or until the gun was
John Browning was the inventor of numerous
innovations that helped the Allies succeed in
both World Wars. Some notable inventions (to
name a few) are the 1911style .45 Cal.
semiautomatic pistol, the B.A.R. (Browning
automatic rifle), the Browning hi-power 9mm
pistol design, and the Browning .50 Cal. M2
machine gun (the guns used in the bombers of WWII
- also used by tanks and infantry).
Mikhail Kalashnikov, originally a Russian tank
mechanic, is the inventor of the well-known AK-47
assault rifle. The AK stands for
"Automat Kalashnikov". He
completed the design in 1947, hence the name
Eugene Stoner is sometimes seen as Kalashnikov's
American contemporary. Stoner invented the
famous M-16 rifle (used extensively by the
Americans in Vietnam) as well as the later AR-15
style of assault rifles.
* Mark Messina
Down At The End Of Your
The subversive tone of this song can
be heard elsewhere, e.g. 'Beltane', 'Saboteur'
and 'Mayhem, Maybe'. The comfortable,
suburban, bourgeois life is considered ripe for
disruption and/or destruction, a view most
commonly held by those (like Ian) who were
themselves raised in such surroundings.
'Respectability' is here seen as hypocritical: a
thin gloss on the darker aspects of the
individual psyche and 'polite' society as a
whole: "I am your neighbour. I
seem most respectable, but underneath I'm an
iniquitous toad." (and) "By
day I'm a real estate gentleman. I deal in fine
properties cheap at the price. After dark, I plan
my most devious practices which you might think
are not very nice".
Thus there is an echo of the older 'animal' songs
on the 'Chateau d'Isaster Tapes' and 'WarChild'.
The symbol of chaos seems to be excrement in many
of these songs: the natural waste that is so
purposefully disposed of, protecting not only our
health but also our sensibilities. Plumbing
is, after all, one of the triumphs of a civilised
society! And a feature not commonly found
in your average jungle . . . . In film,
David Lynch has turned the same subversive glance
on Middle America: Blue Velvet in
particular. In literature, George Orwell's Keep
the Aspidistra Flying is perhaps the
sharpest attack on bourgeois culture and
values. Steppenwolf by Hermann
Hesse tells of a more complex love/hate
relationship with these values.
* Andy Jackson
Also originating from "The
Broadsword And The Beast" sessions, this
song was released for the first time on this
and lyrics of 'Coronach' were written by David
Palmer as the theme to the historical TV series
"The blood of the British", broadcasted
by UK Channel 4. It was recorded and released in
1986 as a single, with 'Jack Frost And The Hooded
Crow' as B-side, credited to Jethro Tull &
book "Jethro Tull - complete lyrics"
published by IMP in 1993 gives the chorus as "Hi-O-Ran-I-O", which Ian
once said was derived from a Gaelic war cry.
According to this book 'Coronach' means a
Scottish funeral song.
* Alan R. Eagle; SCC vol. 9 nr.
9 (January 25, 1998)
Jackson points out that there is - like in
Aqualung - a possible relation with William Blake, regarding
his poem A New Jerusalem (1804). Both poem and
song sing the praises of Britain and the
ancestors that once settled in the country.
those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic Mills?
me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my charriot of fire!
will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
in 1975 - probably during "The Minstrel In
The Gallery" sessions - it was released as
on the B-side of tthe title track single.
Too Many Too
song recorded in June 1981 during "The
Broadsword And The Beast" sessions, that
didn't make it to the album.
many temples where we could worship the beast.
Where he who thinks he has the most in fact has
This song is written in the
prophetic mode, echoing passages in the New
Testament and apocrypha:
"The man who has will be given more, and the
man who has not
will forfeit even what he thinks he
has." (Luke, 8. 18)
"For many who are first will become last,
and they will become one and the
same." (Gospel of Thomas, 33. 9-10)
A reversal of fortunes often features in this
style of address -- a turning of the tables in
favour of a 'new world order', and an expression
of disillusionment with the current state of
"Too many equal and average
children will all grow up the same."
This line echoes some of the social concerns in
'Thick As A Brick':
"We will be geared towards the average
rather than the exceptional."
* Andy Jackson
March The Mad Scientist
acoustic gem, one of the most beautiful and
intelligent songs Anderson ever wrote, was
recorded during the "Songs From The
Wood" sessions in 1976 and was released in
the UK as part of the 'Solstice Bells' EP. It's a
pity it wasn't included on the masterpiece
"Songs From The Wood" as it reflects
the overall message of the album so well. The
fictive person, adressed in the first stanza (and
who could be each of us), isn't all too happy
about the life he/she is living in modern society
and feels lost, uneasy with it and is therefore
looking for a new and more full-filling
a new polarity".
The strive for success and wealth ("desperate to deal in high
affected all of us ("That
lick us with their hotter flame, lick each and
everyone the same") and we
feel ambiguous about it: we don't want to give it
up, yet we would like to change it all ("you're binary") and live a
more relaxed and rich life. But this wealth is
not to be found in material matters, but in
tradition and sense of community - or as stated
in this song - in nature itself. While all of
society is preoccupied with chasing "the
products of wealth", nature takes its course
and spring arrives in all its splendor: "a new change in
ever-dancing colours", so
abundantly and omnipresent that Ian speaks of
March as a "mad
though it's around for anyone to see, no one pays
rings it here and he rings it, but no one stops
to see"), nor to
what is becoming of this world: "the change of fate and the
fate of change". So the
wisdom of nature remains hidden for a future
time, when people are more willing to experience,
appreciate and look for it: "so he locks it all away
from view and shares not what he thought you
knew". The closing verseline of
the song stresses once more the point he is
* Jan Voorbij
instrumental piece was originally written for TV
girls dance group, Pan's People, for their
appearances with Jethro Tull at the Rainbow
Theatre, London in 1974. It was released as
another track from the 'Solstice Bells' EP in
in 1976, especially as B-side for the single 'The
Whistler', released to promote the 'Songs From
The Wood' album.
King Henry's Madrigal
'King Henry's Madrigal' is not an
original song written by Ian but his instrumental
arrangement from a medieval folk song. I first
heard this song in a college music class. It does
have lyrics, and it's called . As I understood
it, it was actually written by King Henry VIII.
It was played during the 'Stormwatch' tour as
part of a live set under the title 'Pastime With
Good Company', with an introduction by David
Palmer: "Imagine if King Henry VIII had had
a rock & roll band - it would have sounded
something like this". The original lyrics
with good company I love and shall until I die.
Grudge who will, but none deny,
So God be pleased, thus live will I.
For my pastance, hunt sing and dance, my heart is
To all comfort such goodly sport, who shall me
Youth must needs have dalliance,
Of good or ill some pastance.
Company methinketh the best
All thoughts and fantasies to digest,
For idleness is chief mistress of vices all,
Then who can say but pass the day is best of all?
Company with honesty
Is virtue sure and vice to flee.
Company is good or ill
But every man hath his free will.
The best I sue,
the worst eschew;
my mind shall be Virtue to use, vice to refuse
--thus shall I use me."
* Jennie Jones, Jan Voorbij
A Stitch In Time
song probably dates from the Heavy Horses
sessions and was released in 1978 to promote the
double album 'Live - Bursting Out'.
chorus is based around everyday proverbs or
stitch in time saves nine", meaning:
if you do a little work early on, it will save
you a lot of work later! Another one applied in
the verseline "Show
a little pride before you fall" is
"Pride comes before a fall":
self-importance or arrogance will lead quickly to
misfortune. The character of "Cock Robin" originates
is from an old English folk ballad, and it might
have grown out of the Robin Hood tales, but I'm
not sure. You will find a complete version of
'Who killed Cock Robin' here online.
Normally, only the last 11 or 12 verses are used
in a folk song arrangement (starting with
"Who killed Cock Robin?"). But
this full version has the bit at the beginning,
where Cock Robin is singing from the wall to
Jenny Wren, and I guess this is where Ian has
taken the image from.
There is (like in 'Coronach') another William
Blake reference in this song: "dark
Satanic mills", taken from his poem The
New Jerusalem, was applied here by Ian as "driving grey satanic mills
and weaving sad stories" to portray
the dull, monotonous and depressing labour in a
To be honest, I don't think there's really a deep
meaning to this song: Ian was trying to write a
'hit single', and it looks like he picked these
nursery-rhyme images and proverbs to make it
memorable and catchy.
* Andy Jackson, Jan Voorbij
and released late 1969 as B-side of the UK single
One For John Gee
after the release of 'This Was', a single was
taken from the album: 'A Song For Jeffrey',
bringing the band their first little commercial
success. They choose this jazzy 'One For John
Gee' for the B-side, thus thanking John Gee
(manager of the Marquee Club in London), who was
the first person to show sufficient faith in the
band to invite them for a return booking. Being a
fanatic jazz fan, Jethro Tull came to most close
to his personal taste in comparison to most of
the bands that played the Marquee Club.
in February 1968, when the band played under a
variety of names. The song was written by Mick
Abrahams, was not at all indicative of their
stage sound and became the B-side of the
'Sunshine Day' single, miscredited to
"Jethro Toe". The song was part of the
repertory of the John Evan Band in 1967.
during the same session and written by Ian
Anderson and Glenn Cornick, which was actually an
old track cut by the John Evan Band with the
saxophones mixed out.
* '20 Years Of Jethro Tull', album booklet
* The interviews on the '20 Years Of Jethro Tull',
* 'Minstrel In The Gallery : A History Of Jethro Tull',
D. Rees, SAF Publ., Wembley UK (1998)