Jethro Tull 
Monday, 27 .June, 2005, 19:45 - English Entries, Music

-- "Really don't mind, if you sit this one out"

It must have been sometime 1987 or 1988 when two of my best friends of that time and I sat in one of the guys little room and he put on a record, asking me if I knew the band. I didn't, had never heared one of their songs. But listen, he said, don't they sound familiar? The sound reminded me of something, but not sure of what - he said he was disappointed about me, he really had thought I would have a better feeling for music. He was that way at that time, we were still all filled up with testosterone and willing to show our superiority even if it meant to put one of our friends a little down for that purpose.

Entry Drug

They sound like Dire Straits he said. Hm, yes, there is somewhere a slight similarity, you are right, but now tell me who in heavens name they are. He gave me the album cover of the vinyl that was on the record player. "Stand up" by somebody called Jethro Tull. Aha, so so. I had to admit I liked the sound that he identified as Dire Straits like. Maybe it were the first few tones of "Jeffrey went the Leicester Square" that I heared for the first time, they started it all - I cannot remember that much anymore.

I grew up somewhere between Munich and the Alpes, a region where Rock'n'Roll was something that they played on only one of the public radion stations, called Bayern 3. There were only public radio stations that time. My taste of music was influenced by the people of Bayern 3 and I am still greatful that during the 80s there were some late Rockers that they played. This is not an excuse for me, but maybe for my friend who was ignorant - as all of us - when comparing Tull with Dire Straits. If anything sounded similar at all then it was Dire Straits re-inventing the Tull sound and not the other way round. But Bayern 3 did not teach us such things.

Exactly there we go

Shortly after this I ordered "Crest of a Knave". I am not sure anymore if I bought "Rock Island" before that, but Crest of a Knave really did it. At that time I mainly listened to Rock and Heavy Metal. Ok, they did not play Manowar (who shouts "buuuuu"?) on Bayern 3, but there were always some influences in cars of friends who had already drivers licenses - not to forget the disco places were the sons and daugthers of the local farmers used to hang out during weekends. The Crest of the Knave did not already turn everything upside down, at that time I thought it just as a good album.

Get the grip

Something took grip of me and few days later I was seen in Munichs "World of Music", spending too much money on a collection called "20 Years of Jethro Tull" - five records. I did not even have a CD player that time. Imagine! First thing I did was visiting my friend, who at that day stayed at his girl friends home in a small cow town. This must have been 89, as I had a drivers license already. At that time I thought of his girl friend as very beautiful but completly ignorant to anything that made sense in the world. I assume they just had done it when I arrived, because he and I sat in front of her stereo and were listening to one of the records while she was bored in another corner of her room, naging about what she referred to simply as "music". My brain got the ultimate injection of mind blowing sound and I saw from his eyes that the same was happening to my friend. It must have been the beginning of "Cold Winds to Valhalla" and "The Minstrel in the Gallery" that changed at least my life for the upcoming years.

The compilation that changed it all

The compilation starts with "A Song for Jeffrey" in some special radio edition - you hear the blues-rock train rolling, you sit right on top of it. Even when the flute turns softer you hear the rhythm of the train from the drums in the background, it cannot stop until "Love Story" comes up, which bascially is the same train, but a different compartment, there is now a real drum mixed into it, that is hit by hands and makes you feel like running through the corridors - until you reach the "Fat Man", followed by the blues instrumental version of Bachs "Bouree" and the "Stormy Monday Blues". Ah, sorry for getting too excited about all this, but what I want to say is, that this compilation is so perfectly built up - it was and still is a drug.

Timothy Leary was maybe right, I did not care about him anymore, I got all the colors from music now. I turned on, tuned in, dropped totally out - became part of the machine, was in the shuffeling madness, felt happy as the all-time loser.


The next step towards enlightment was "Thick as a Brick". Before music was for listening and dancing (mostly hadbanging that time, called "moschen" in the Southern parts of Bavaria, which sounds as straight as the action itself), with Thick as a Brick it became religious. Hey, I knew The Doors that time already, I loved them and knew their lyrics inside-out and upside-down - they influenced my life for sure and set free a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. But they never did something like Thick as a Brick, which was both lyrics and music wise a riddle to me. My English was not very well developed that time and of course it was impossible to understand what that whole thing meant - I only took pieces out of the lyrics and dreamed around then.

One of the pieces I took was "The Sandcastle" from the two lines
"The sandcastle virtues are all swept away
In the tidal destruction of the moral melee"
No idea what a tidal distruction or moral melee meant - who cares at all, it banged around in my head to the music coming from Ian Andersons flute. The Sandcastle became the name of a so-called "mailbox", an online computer system, that I built up on one of my first personal computers. These mailboxes were in a way the predecessors of the public internet - we used telephone lines to exchanges e-mail like messages and people could dial into the system with their VT100 terminal emulations on PCs and read and write messages. The peek of technology and my contribution to it was named after a sandcastle from Thick as a Brick.

Not just background music

I worked in a bank in Rosenheim at some point, stood behind the cashiers desk and had to count money and do more similar important stuff. At the end of the day I had to check whether the money and the accounted bills showed the same sum. They never did and my depressed feeling kept growing thanks to that. During most lunch breaks and right after work I went to the record store and invested my money in The Who, early Genesis and Jethro Tull recordings. A guy behind the counter and I had long talks about drum solos on "Benefit" and "Living in the Past". That helped to overcome the guilt feeling I had for the deficits I gained for my employer.

Keep away depression

The more I think about it, the more all the music and events seem to have taken place completly in parallel, as if the time 1988 till around 1994 was just a weekend in Bavaria. JT was some sort of glue, that held it all thight together. "The Chateau d'Isaster Tapes", "Aqualung", "Witch Promise" and the monumental "A Passion Play" were more than just the background music to what happend then. They gave the right signs at the right time - or maybe wrong signs at right times, who knows afterwards? If their signs were wrong, it was all right.

A Monument

Jethro Tull songs accompanied me through my first real tragic love, that finally turned out good. It was "Budapest" I listened to again and again and then again and once more. And it was "Under Wraps - part II" that was the air under my feet on all the mountain peaks and valleys my soul had to go through during these months of siege without hope. During the darker days there was also Peter Gabriel telling me that the world was not the best place for human beings, but the driving force were still the light songs from the wood and there was always a heavy horse that pulled me forward.

Under Siege

One day I packed my soon-to-be brother-in-law, whom I had infected with the sound of the band, into my ugly green car and we drove to Dresden, where THEY gave a concert. It was the first time I saw them live. An open air in a park and Andreas and I were most likely the youngest ones, although I was not so fresh anymore. That was just two or three years after the wall had come down but the area was filled with people in rock'n'roll outfit. Either they had all come similar long ways as we or they had kept their clothes hidden during 40 years of communism.

Oh God

Before I had already seen some video recordings of the early times of Ian Anderson and his band. The show I saw in Dresden was rather calm and well-organized compared to these little films. I was not disappointed, they played all the songs, even "My God" in an ultra long version. Several times after that I saw them live, they are good in that, but in real life they were never able to make me as dizzy as when I listend to them at home. Seems I needed to be with them in private to let them in.

Never misses the effect

Having said that it sounds as if they would not accomplish good live works. That is not true and listening to their live recordings, for example on "Bursting Out" and "A Little Light Music" but also on the collections, is exciting. It is quite a while ago that I have seen them and I would like to watch them on stage again.

Live experience

I did not abandon them, but I went on. There are times, like these days, when I have time and just put them on again. It never misses the effect. Again I sit here, asking myself how I could ever listen to something else than the Broadsword and the Beast, Cross-Eyed Mary and To Cry You a Song.

-- "Well that's that, I'm going."
-- all pictures of this entry are linked from the online version of the St. Cleves Chronicle

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