One of the various subgenres that fall under the umbrella of rock & roll is progressive rock, commonly referred to as a prog rock. Complex, ambitious, and designed to provoke thinking, progressive rock makes use of any instruments, effects, and production techniques that are judged essential to achieve its goals.
In other words, progressive rock may draw influence from any kind of music, ranging from folk to classical, and Jethro Tull is widely regarded as one of the greatest bands to ever play progressive rock.
The song repertoire of Jethro Tull, which is led by frontman Ian Anderson, is jam-packed to the brim with works that are rich in tonal intricacy and thematic depth.
Their narratives include a wide range of topics, from fantastical fiction to accounts of young women who worked as prostitutes. Their fans have been kept engaged for decades thanks to an ambitious and varied range of tunes, and this will continue to be the case for a great many years to come.
The album “Aqualung” was released in 1971, and its lead single, “Aqualung,” was written by Ian Anderson and Jennie Franks. Even though many people believe this to be Jethro Tull’s most well-known song, it was never released as a single.
“Because it was too long, it was too episodic, it starts with a loud guitar riff then goes into rather more laid back acoustic stuff,” says frontman Ian Anderson. After all, top 40 radio, which exclusively played snappy, three-minute pop songs, ruled the airwaves in the pre-internet era.
The theme of “Aqualung” is the predicament of the homeless and how society acts as though we don’t see them.
2. Thick as a Brick
The song with the same name as the album, “Thick as a Brick,” is the only track on the accompanying album. The first segment begins at 22:31 and may be found on side one. Part two can be found on side two, and its duration is 2 minutes and 05 seconds.
On the other hand, a version that was created exclusively for radio play runs for three minutes and one second. The lyrics of the song tell the story of a young man who is trying to decide between two different paths in life.
One option for the future entails serving in the military, while the other involves working in the arts. It was first distributed in 1972 and quickly rose to the top of the Billboard 200 chart after being awarded gold status.
3. Locomotive Breath
The track “Locomotive Breath,” which was released as part of the band’s album Aqualung in 1971 and has since become a fan favorite, is frequently played on radio stations that focus on classic rock. The music website Ultimate Classic Rock ranked “Locomotive Breath” as their third most beloved Jethro Tull song of all time.
The issues that plague modern society serve as the inspiration for “Locomotive Breath’s” central motif. “Old Charlie” is a metaphor for God, and the locomotive is meant to represent the detrimental repercussions that come with a population that is constantly growing.
There have been several different renditions of the song, including one by the band Styx, who included it on their album Big Bang Theory.
4. Cross-Eyed Mary
“Cross-eyed Mary” is one of the most well-known and likable characters that Jethro Tull has created. “Cross-Eyed Mary” is a Jethro Tull song that was written by frontman Ian Anderson and can be found on the album Aqualung.
The song is about a young woman who works as a prostitute. Even if she is engaging in questionable pursuits, her character serves an essential purpose: she is responding to the challenges presented to her by her environment.
She is a decent and charitable person in her own right. In passing, I should mention that the main character from the song “Aqualung” shows up in the video as one of her “clients.”
5. Bungle in the Jungle
The band Jethro Tull has released an album under the title War Child. The CD was created to serve as a soundtrack. Because the film was never produced, Jethro Tull decided to release it as an album in 1974.
When it was released, it debuted at number two on the Billboard Charts. Anderson is quoted as saying, “I feel self-conscious about it because I wrote it for radio play; it just feels a little bit too deliberate.”
Ian further remarked that the reason Bungle in the Jungle did not receive attention from around the world was that it is only significant to Americans and no one else.
6. Songs from the Wood
“Songs from the Wood” is a favorite of Jethro Tull frontman and composer Ian Anderson. It is also one of Anderson’s favorite Jethro Tull tracks. The song, which is performed in the folk-rock style, can be heard on the corresponding album from 1977.
‘Songs From the Wood‘ was based, in Anderson’s words, “on elements of folklore and fairy tales as well as traditions of the British rural environment. I was given a book about English folklore by our PR manager, Jo Lustig, for Christmas, and as I leafed through it, I discovered numerous intriguing details, characters, and tales that I ultimately chose to turn into a collection of songs.
(“I based the components of ‘Songs From the Wood‘ on folklore, fantasy tales, and customs of the rural British environment. I was given a book about English folklore by our PR manager, Jo Lustig, for Christmas, and as I thumbed through it, I discovered numerous interesting details that I ultimately chose to turn into a collection of songs.
7. Hymn 43
People who use their religion as an excuse for acting badly toward others have a distorted perspective of spirituality. They cause a great deal of harm to everyone around them.
The more power they possess, the worse it gets, and “Hymn 43” is all about that. Hymn 43, written by Ian Anderson, is a blues for Jesus about the bloodthirsty, glory-seeking people who use his name as a justification for a variety of disgusting things.
You know, ‘Hey Dad, it’s not my fault — the missionaries lied,'” It was made available as a single and peaked at number 91 on the Billboard Hot 100.
8. Too Old to Rock ‘N’ Roll: Too Young to Die
Ian Anderson wrote the song “Too Old to Rock ‘N’ Roll: Too Young to Die,” which was published in 1976. It is said that Ian Anderson was having a difficult flight when he realized he was “too old to rock ‘n’ roll and too young to die.”
He made it into a song because those weren’t the most uplifting things to hear oneself say during a rough flight. In this tale, Ray Lomas, a biker who has seen better days and is at the point in his life where his life is winding down due to aging, tells his story.
This song, which first appeared on the same-named album in 1976, quickly won over fans while failing to connect with the general public and failing to chart.
9. Heavy Horses
The song “Heavy Horses” is from the same-named 1978 album. The song itself is an ode to those hardy British horses who carried their countrymen into battle, helped create their great nation, and farmed their fields. “Heavy Horses,” a folk rock song by Ian Anderson, conveys his love of animals.
In a way, it’s similar to the equestrian “Aqualung.” Animals that were once strong and majestic are now on the scrap heap, forgotten by humanity and replaced by machines.
Even while I don’t have a strong obsession with animals and this isn’t a sincere effort to reinstate their use in labor, I do have a soft spot for horses.
10. A Song for Jeffrey
In 1968, “A Song for Jeffrey” was published. The song “A Song for Jeffrey” was written by Ian Anderson and is dedicated to the bassist and close friend Jeffrey Hammond. In elementary school, the two grew close, and Hammond eventually joined the group as its bassist.
Anderson claims that although the song’s lyrics aren’t particularly sophisticated, the song is mainly about Jeffrey, a young man who was uncertain about his future direction.
He was aware of his love for painting, but at times he appeared aimless and lonely. I decided to write a song with his name in it after that. Hammond decided to leave the group in 1975 so that he could focus on his passion for painting.