Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson: My Life in 10 Songs

As the pioneering prog rockers celebrate their 50th anniversary with a tour and new box set, their leader reflects on the tracks that defined them

(via Rolling Stone) by Kory Grow

For Ian Anderson – prog rocker extraordinaire and the world’s best one-legged-stance flautist, bar none – a half-century career in music is no remarkable feat. “It’s not any particularly novel or unusual occurrence,” the Jethro Tull leader says nonchalantly through his dry British accent. “This year marks the anniversary of many other bands who did things around the same period of time. King Crimson started in 1968. So did Yes, Rush and Deep Purple. And of course it’s Led Zeppelin’s 50th anniversary too. So there we go.”

But what he fails to acknowledge is that none of those bands, no matter how out-there they got, were able to blend their hard-rock aspirations with the same levels of pomp, guile or unapologetic pretension as Jethro Tull. None scored FM-radio gold singing lyrics like “Lend me your ear while I call you a fool” (“The Witch’s Promise”) or by writing a 44-minute, tongue-in-cheek prog-rock song (“Thick as a Brick,” presented in two parts on the original LP and packaged in a fake newspaper) or by playing frilly flute solos over Renaissance-inspired folk-rock (“Songs From the Wood”).

In their 50 years, Jethro Tull have notched an astounding 15 gold or platinum albums in the U.S., as well as two Number One LPs. Their most famous song, “Aqualung,” has a guitar riff that’s as cutting and memorable as “Iron Man” and “Smoke on the Water,” and their music has influenced Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Porcupine Tree, Pearl Jam and Nick Cave, among others. Yet the band has not yet been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the only time it has won a Grammy was in the Hard Rock/Metal category – a concept that seemed so preposterous to Anderson that he didn’t bother to show up…

Read more: Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson: My Life in 10 Songs – Rolling Stone


(via The Outline) by Robert Silverman

Sometimes, my father, Burton Silverman, age 89, has trouble remembering certain things. He worries about this. My mother, a psychologist, 79, worries even more, parsing his speech patterns and emails for any clinical signs of cognitive impairment. He always hand waves away these concerns, partly for our benefit and partly because there is little to be done.

But as some details — the name of a former friend, where he last stashed his wallet — seem to fall just beyond his fingertips, dad’s focus has turned towards something less definable: his career. More to the point, the end of a career that has seen him become one of the more prominent realist painters of his time. And yet, for all the artwork he’s created, the accolades and awards, it bothers him, in a way he can’t really express and may not want to recognize, that one of the first lines in his obituary will mention a “throwaway gig,” from the winter of 1970: the artwork for Jethro Tull’s best-known and best-selling album, Aqualung

Read more: The painter behind Jethro Tull’s Aqualung cover is still haunted by its success | The Outline

Video of the Week: Classical Flutist Reacts to Jethro Tull

Songs You May Have Missed #406

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Ian Anderson: “Calliandra Shade (The Cappuccino Song)” (2003)

Although Jethro Tull albums are written chiefly if not solely by Ian Anderson, his solo stuff tends to be a complete contrast. 2003’s Rupi’s Dance, as well as The Secret Language of Birds of three years earlier, appear to be more of an outlet for the laid-back, more acoustic work Anderson seems to increasingly enjoy recording and performing these days.

“Calliandra Shade”, as the album’s first track, is a perfect declaration of intent for such a pastoral record. It’s a song too inconsequential, too casual for a Tull album, and a perfect slice of Ian’s other side. Here he simply invites you to join him at his favorite table at an outdoor café, sip a designer coffee and enjoy the warm sunshine and loose conversation. It’s deliberately about nothing–the anti-Jethro Tull song. And it’s delightful.

I sit in judgment on the market square
I have my favorite table and I have my chair
Natives are friendly and the sun flies high
All kinds of crazy waiters, they go drifting by

Hours last forever in the Calliandra shade
Conversation going nowhere and yet everywhere
Kick off those sad shoes and let the bare toes tingle
Slip off that shoulder strapless and the thick black hair

Come, sit with me and take decaf designer coffee
Come, laugh and listen as the ragamuffin children play
Lame dog and a black cat, now they shuffle in the shadows
You got cappuccino lip on a short skirt day

Electric afternoon and shrill cellphones are mating
Lame dog is dreaming, dreaming of a better life
Where bed is fluffy pillows, table scraps are fillet mignon
Flicked indiscreetly by the lazy waiter’s knife

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Songs You May Have Missed #118


Ian Anderson: “Eurology” (Live) (2005)

The cheekily-titled “Eurology” is one of the tastiest things Jethro Tull’s mad flautist has come up with in recent years. And the live version is a wee bit livelier than the studio.

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