Posts Tagged ‘Tull’

Hey, Santa, pass us that bottle, will ya?

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

You’ll be glad to know that I won’t be jumping on the Best of the Year list bandwagon that most blogs will be foisting on you at the moment. This is partly because I like to subvert expectations, not run with the crowd and challenge the accepted norm, but mainly because I only saw about three films this year. But if you really need to know, Cloverfield mu’fuh!

At this time of year (as Craig from Big Brother 1 would say) I normally post links to my favourite Christmas songs. It’s good to have traditions in these secular times, wouldn’t you say? However, my absolute favourite isn’t really a Christmas song in the truest sense, seeing as how it celebrates the Winter Solstice, but I guess people don’t really care about such quibbles. It certainly sounds pretty damn Christmassy.

Even though the original is utterly perfect in its evocation of medieval England by way of the mid 1970s, a rerecording of this song appears on The Jethro Tull Christmas Album, in which the long in the tooth folky progsters offer some jazzy versions of Christmas carols, a few jaunty originals, and, like the aforementioned Solstice Bells, revisit some of their old songs that have a seasonal theme.

A Christmas Song first appeared on 1972’s Living in the Past album, and, while being a beautiful litle acoustic vignette features some of the clumsiest lyrics Ian Anderson ever wrote. Try this: “Once in royal David’s city/ stood a lonely cattle shed/ Where a mother held her baby/ You’d do well to remember the things he later said” not to menton the line “You’re missing the point I’m sure does not need making” which manages to be both grammatically mangled and completely nonsensical. It is clearly a song written by a very young man, struggling to articulate his frustrations at the contradictory nature of the festive period.

About twenty years later, Anderson wrote Another Christmas Song. Although shot through with a sense of melancholy, it is by contrast is an altogether more optimistic piece of music. It’s clearly written by an older man, accepting that even though the world isn’t necessarily the way it should be, we should surround ourselves with the people we love and wish that ohers can enjoy it however they can. “Hope everybody’s ringing their own bell this fine morning” indeed.

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They’re all resting down in Springfield

Friday, March 20th, 2009

I recently saw The Simpsons episode Girls Just Wanna Have SumsIn it, Lisa realises that the girls aren’t being taught very much in the newly sex segregated Springfield Elementary, and masquerades as a boy so she can attend the boys’ school and actually learn something important (ie. doing a “Yentl“).

At the end of the episode the buffoonish and fey Martin Prince appears, in typically daft Rennaissance Fayre garb, playing a flute and singing Jethro Tull’s Thick as a Brick. The song then plays out over the end credits.

This is not just a Family Guy style non sequiter. An episode about a bogus educational system failing a generation of schoolchildren seems an ideal venue to reference what Wikipedia describes as “a poem by an intelligent English boy about the trials of growing up”.

Maybe I am reading far too much into this, but of all the Simpsons characters, Martin does resemble none other than Brick ”co writer” Gerald Bostock himself.

Martin & Gerald

Martin & Gerald

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The Hazards of Love

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Revenge

It’s not very often I hear any new music that really excites me, partly because I don’t go out of my way to find it, and partly because there’s just too much of it. But I was recently introduced to The DecemberistsThe Hazards of Love album, and it completely knocked my socks off. I’ve long been a fan of creepy, creaky acid folk (since I heard the Lammas Night Laments CD series), and was certainly not expecting to hear anything new in that admittedly narrow genre. Well, not since The Eighteenth Day of May knocked it on the head, anyway.

The Hazards of Love has been compared to the music of hoary old long in the tooth prog folk rockers Jethro Tull, and I can hear that, but only in a couple of lurching moments of guitar and organ interplay. The thing is, a folk rock concept album (!) about a fair maiden, her shapeshifting lover (!!), infanticide(!!!) and a fairy queen (!!!!) is exactly the sort of thing people think the Tull got up to. However, they never did, and even in their explicit folk rock period of the late 70s, their songs were shot through with a sardonic air that never really took traditional music at face value.

Having said that, The Decemberists’ album is a fantastic piece of work, variously subtle, thrilling, and melancholic. Taking a look at their website I noticed that they have a “Fan Art” section, (which is a rather charming idea – I bet Buckcherry haven’t got one. Come to think of it, that’s probably a good thing). So I was sufficiently inspired to illustrate (this may be considered a spoiler) the spookiest bit of the record.  A fanboy I may be, but if there’s an opportunity to draw some dead children, I say go for it.

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