Ian Anderson left (Jethro Tull) trying to look like Walter White (Bryan Cranston) right
“Oscar: I tell you one thing that really drives me nuts, people who think that Jethro Tull is just a person in a band.
Psychologist: Who is Jethro Tull?
-Owen Wilson, Armageddon, 1998”
To Cry You a Song 1970 by Jethro Tull by is an often overlooked classic that needs more attention. The guitar riff is what really makes the song, but unfortunately Ian Anderson has fired his guitar player Martin Barre. They are both engaged on separate tours. No one talks about it because unlike Fleetwood Mac, it was not announced that he was fired in such a way that the press took notice of it. I can’t find out as much information as I would like to find about To Cry You a Song because it’s not one of the song analyzed in Song Facts, at this time. The song is supposed to be based on Had to Cry Today, but I don’t see any of Had to Cry on it. It’s not a Blues Song. I did read the Song Meanings. This is my interpretation of the lyrics. He has taken really strong drugs and he can’t even get himself cigarettes, so he is trying to remember many do I have on hand right now? Or he is on a plane which would have been a smoking flight. Needless to say Ian Anderson should not be smoking at all as a singer. I began to read on Reddit that on his 1984 Tour he has a voice issue. He took 1985 off to rest and not tour, but otherwise he seems to have been on never ending tour since Aqualung. Why is he still touring? I can’t believe he needs the money. I know he likes tour. I saw Jethro Tull in 1988 at the Concord Pavilion, and I felt his voice was as good as it could possible be at that time. I did not notice any decline, but I have been to You Tube and clearly something happened to his voice. I am going to speculate it happened in the 90s citing this article from 1993. Ian Anderson is in the same boat with Robert Plant and Brian Wilson. I think this could be due to a natural process of aging, but of course cigarettes and over touring or failure to warm up. But how does Mic Jagger managed to maintain his voice at such a high level? The Havana nights concert in Cuba showed him to have almost the same voice of his early years. I have read failure to warm up and over extending in concert caused the demise of Robert Plant’s Voice. But, back to To Cry You a Song. When he gets sober he will jump in taxi cab and go to see his wife? His girlfriend? I think the person he will cry the song to could be the entire world or all people in the world. The people or person who is cried the song does not matter. He wants to bestow a message to the world. In part of the lyrics he says the airport security is searching his case (luggage), but they don’t find any drugs. They wave him through airport security, so he can deliver his message. He may have taken drugs in a foreign country, and his now returning to England. But, in this same stanza his dreams are inside this paper bag. Breathing into a paper bag could mean he was taken some kind of inhalant drug and he thinks he saw Angels. This means he was able to see into the afterlife, but then later he wonders if it was real.
Closing my dream inside its paper-bag.
Thought I saw angels
But I could have been wrong.
Searching my case,
Can’t find what they’re looking for.
Waving me through
To cry you a song
Later in the song he comes home to his woman and he is at the door, but he can’t open to have the chain opened on the inside door latch.
Rattling of safety chain taking too long.
The smile in your eyes was never so sweet before
Came down from the skies
To cry you a song
I think this is actually a common feeling people have when the take drugs. They are able to see into another dimension which may or may not exist. This effect could be caused by the human brain or it could be proof of something spiritual that we all need to know. That is why the person wants to be able to take this message to the people. Consider the David Bowie song All The Young Dudes sung by Mott the Hoople in 1972. The singer has a message and he wants all the young dudes to carry it to the people. In this case, the message was that we had only five years to live before the world ended. Clearly Bowie’s look into the abyss was much more cynical than Ian Anderson’s. Speaking of All The Young Dudes Bowie was crazy to give that song away to Mott the Hoople. For years I thought the song was sung by David Bowie. Later Bowie did a version of the song, but it was not very good. I am glad he gave the song to Mott the Hoople.
Quoted from Rolling Stone Magazine link provided
FEBRUARY 28, 1974
Burroughs: Could you explain this Ziggy Stardust image of yours? From what I can see it has to do with the world being on the eve of destruction within five years.
Bowie: The time is five years to go before the end of the earth. It has been announced that the world will end because of lack of natural resources. [The album was released three years ago.] Ziggy is in a position where all the kids have access to things that they thought they wanted. The older people have lost all touch with reality and the kids are left on their own to plunder anything. Ziggy was in a rock & roll band and the kids no longer want rock & roll. There’s no electricity to play it. Ziggy’s adviser tells him to collect news and sing it, ’cause there is no news. So Ziggy does this and there is terrible news. “All the Young Dudes” is a song about this news. It is no hymn to the youth as people thought. It is completely the opposite.
Burroughs: Where did this Ziggy idea come from, and this five-year idea? Of course, exhaustion of natural resources will not develop the end of the world. It will result in the collapse of civilization. And it will cut down the population by about three-quarters.
Other interesting random facts
Ian Anderson and David Bowie were both born in 1947 and so was my late husband.
Martin Barre was born in 1946. Did he miss the lucky year to be born?
In this You Tube Video David Bowie wears a shirt that says 1947 and tell the story of how Morrissey quit his Outside Tour after only 9 dates.
There are references to birds in To Cry You A Song which I assume means because of the flying he says “I’m a glad bird”.
To Cry You A Song has lyrics that can heard and understood, but Living in the Past is completely unintelligible. For years I thought the Lyrics was “Let’s go Leaping in the Tide” instead of “Let’s Go Living in the Past.” Leaping is not so farfetched because his icon image is the leaping flute player on one leg. I have to show this to you.
I would go to see Ian Anderson, but he’s playing near Palm Springs and then San Diego, when it would be more fun if he played Vegas. Los Angeles is too stressful to deal with unless I was going for another reason. So why play there, and not in Vegas? I can’t believe he can’t get booked there.
I also have the slight suspicion that some of that concert in 1988 was lip synced. I was so impressed he sounded so much like he was in a studio, and this was after 1984. Even if the whole concert was lip synced, I would still want to go. The point is his personality. He did sing at one time, so I don’t need him to sing it again for me to appreciate being there. Whom ever went to see the concert knows how much he really cares, unlike bored and jaded performers such as Adam Ant and Ray Davies who were just there to get the pay check by putting in the minimum effort.
Hymn 43 is a song by Jethro Tull which I like to call Jesus Save Me
Someone posted on a progressive rock band forum that Jethro Tull is arguably the most sacrilegious band that has ever existed.
I don’t actually like Hymn 43, but I have heard it many times played on Sirius XM and it was on a CD I used to have. It’s not so much the lyrics that are terrible, but the over all music is not good. We love Aqualung for its music and tolerate the homeless lyrics. I also read or heard Ian Anderson telling Led Zeppelin he could write better lyrics that would take them farther. He said he did this before he knew Robert Plant wrote all the lyrics. I have argued, in the past in a deleted blog, that Ian Anderson created some of the worst lyrics ever in the history of popular music. A teenage prostitute Cross Eyed Mary gets an abortion for example, but he wrapped them up in such fantastic music, that everyone is forced to embrace them in spite of the lyrics.
This is similar to something that David Foster Wallace said about Infinite Jest, he wanted to make the book difficult to read and understand but provide so much entertainment that people would push past that to get at the entertaining parts.
Bad lyrics may be why Jethro Tull is not in the rock and roll hall of fame. Robert Plant’s lyrics are simple, but heart felt. Ian Anderson’s are complex, difficult to understand and upsetting. Complex does not automatically translate into brilliant. Some people on the web just hear the “Jesus Save Me” and they think the song is prayer, but other people hear more of what he is saying and they discover its an anti religious song, and not just against organized religion. It say Jesus does not have the power to stop people from evoking his name in death. (Some churches believe when you evoke Jesus’s name at the time of your death or say a pray to Jesus you will be saved no matter what you did in life.) Do the lyrics mean Jesus won’t save men who have done evil who call out to him? This is very complicated territory to enter into. I can clearly hear this part of the song “I saw Him in the city and on the mountains of the moon His cross was rather bloody He could hardly roll His stone.” This was something Anderson sang very clearly, but the rest of the song is hard to understand. I can also hear money games his women and his gun.
Hymn 43 does not come out and say, Churches are terrible, but I believe in Jesus or his message or anything like that. The song says he does not believe in Jesus at all. And Hymn 43 should have been called Jesus Save Me, but Ian Anderson was not committed to that name so he picked a random sort of name that lets the song slip by unnoticed. Jesus Save Me is the main chorus lyric. Names that fit the song could be Jesus Save Me NOT, Jesus Save Me (just kidding) Or
Jesus Save Me ?