Excerpt from Metal Rules Interview with Ian Anderson from 2003
MR: I saw a car commercial not too long ago using "Thick As A Brick." How did that come about?
IA: Well, through my publishers, Chrysalis Music, who phoned me up and said there's this company, Hyundai, and they want to do an ad using some music from "Thick As A Brick" and they need your permission and I said, "Well, I don't have a problem with that," but given that they wanted to re-record a sort of 30 or 60 second version of it, I said, "Well fine, but if they're going to re-record it, maybe they want me to do it for them, because I can do that pretty quickly."
So we agreed that I would re-record it and they sent me a story board, and specific timings, and I had a pretty good idea of how the ad was going to run. I just put together a couple of different versions and sent it back to them. And then they tore them apart and put them back together in a slightly different order, which wasn't actually the way I intended it to be anyway, but for whatever reason they edited it the way they wanted it run but it's me playing. They left off all the nice flutey bits at the end, which was the best bit, but it is actually me playing. So I took about three hours to play a few different instruments on that and put it together.
MR: Well, it's aired quite a bit over here, for what it's worth. I don't even remember what car it is.
IA: Well, they could have sent me the money or maybe about seven cars! (Laughs)
OK, so it’s October…no need to work yourself up into a lather. There’s a lot of stuff going on and I’m a “bit” behind with the update on my activities. We’re going take a little journey in the Way Back Machine, so stop complaining about my tardiness and enjoy the ride!
First, let me say thank you for all the emails you have sent to me asking questions, passing along comments about the concerts, records, band members’ waist measurements or other personal observations. Please be assured I do read ALL of them but it is impossible for me to answer them all as I find I can only just about barely keep up with my own personal email and other correspondence. I wish I could answer every one but if I tried doing that there would probably not be enough time for me to go out and play every night. Please don’t feel disheartened if you do not get a personal reply and don’t let that discourage you from writing to me in the future. I read it all and write back to those that I can.
This is really very strange. I am sitting in my hotel room in Tel Aviv overlooking the beach promenade below and the Mediterranean beyond. Inside my room I have CNN purring quietly on the television with a foreign correspondent updating me about the latest Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. This has resulted in some small explosives being detonated, the inevitable human casualties and much rock throwing. Jerusalem officials are on high alert while Yasser Arafat is in Washington seeking support from the USA.
Warnings about the escalating violence and potential for further problems in the area are surrealistically counter balanced by the unfolding scene below me on the promenade. Outside my window are thousands of young and not so young people dancing, hugging, walking, milling around or just sitting watching the human spectacle, while festively decorated flatbed trucks float by with outrageously dressed and colorfully painted, undressed people dancing wildly atop them. A DJ on top of each truck loudly spins hip-hop, trip-hop, trance, techno, jungle and drum and bass music. It looks like a combination of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and a late 60’s hippie love-in.
Floating above the proceedings are individually piloted, multi-colored, motorized hand gliders resembling something out of a James Bond movie, flying up and down the beach throwing condoms and candy bars on little parachutes to the crowd below. Just beyond that are swimmers, some private yachts, a few small boats and one or two military vessels keeping a watch on things, presumably so the revelers don’t get out of hand. Ironically, I do not see a single policeman on the street. On the other hand I don’t see a single person causing any trouble. After all, this is Tel Aviv’s annual “Love Parade”. Welcome to Israel.
The day before as we were flying in from Barcelona I noticed, on approach to Tel Aviv airport, that we appeared to be accompanied by two helicopters flying close behind us on either side of the aircraft. Were we being routinely and politely escorted as we neared the Holy Land or was this supposed to be a discreet deterrent in the event of any unwanted aerial activity nearby? Errant SCUD missiles perhaps? I couldn’t help but wonder as I watched from my hotel window that other aircraft apparently en route to the same airport seemed to be mysteriously unaccompanied. Kind of spooky and I’m not sure I want to know the answer to that one.
The fish soup on the other hand is not quite so benign. It is a hard won affair where you have to really sweet talk, coax and ultimately wrestle with the whole fish, crab, shrimp, squid, mussel or clam to reveal it’s inner beauty. Unfortunately in Ian’s case it’s inner beauty turned out to be somewhat more sinister than expected, as the rather unwanted after effects held him hostage for several unpleasant hours. Oh, by the way, the gigs are going pretty good too.
Washington Trip-Christmas, 2000
Smithsonian Air and Space Museum- here’s a little synopsis of some highlights. I was astonished to discover that the bottom diameter of the Hubbell Telescope is only marginally larger than one of my big Paiste concert gongs, which is also made from considerably sturdier looking metal than the outside of the Hubbell, which looks to be primarily constructed out of Reynolds Wrap. Possibly designed in one of those phases where NASA was facing nasty budget cuts. Could this have anything to do with the constant maintenance that this fantastic telescope seems to enjoy? Apollo-Soyuz Project- this joint venture was linked together in space with a 12 ft plastic inner tube like you would find in a children’s playground. No wonder U.S.-Russian relations were shaky for so long with this sort of connective tissue.
Skylab-went inside, got some great ideas about how to reorganize our kitchen. Early cosmonaut engineer’s space suit-talk about cutting costs in the wrong places-gray wool suit with huge holes, presumably from giant space moths-would not have looked out of place in “Plan 9 from Outer Space”. Which came first, I wonder? No silly pressurized space suits for these rough tough Ruskies… Nooooo. Space suits were for babies and Americans anyway. A nice gray woolen number was just the thing to keep them toasty warm in that cold, nasty 0 gravity. Just be careful about those giant space moths, boys. To complete the ensemble was a fairly sharp looking, double edged 4” knife, hanging from one sleeve, always at the ready, that bore an uncanny resemblance to a New York City stiletto, circa 1960, presumably to fight off space aliens and other unwanted intruders. By comparison John Glenn’s 1962 space suit seemed like Luke Skywalker’s.
Growing up I thought, as did many young boys in the 60’s, that being an astronaut would be a pretty fantastic job and in a way I still do, however if you have any issues with claustrophobia you might want to reappraise that as a viable career option.
Inexplicably, in one room that I wandered into, thinking I was going to be seeing some documentary on space exploration, I instead saw a roomful of people watching a hockey game. I did not stay long enough to see what connection this had with the space program, if indeed it had any at all. It was entirely possible I wandered into a wormhole which had instantly transported me to a parallel dimension or possibly a Boston sports bar and delivered me back again with all my molecular structure fully intact.
Here is a listing of some of the astronaut’s personal space accessories: -Lactona toothbrush -Old Spice aftershave-who the hell are they having to smell so nice for in outer space anyway? Hmm…. -The urine transfer tube looked remarkably like what is commonly known in truck stops across America as “The Truckers Friend” used by those long haul drivers. Wonder where NASA got that idea? -Money belts-now there is a truly useless item in space. -Nail trimmers! Where in the hell do those clippings go? You don’t want one of those floating around in your hard disk drive. “Ahh, Houston, we have a problem”.
Command module for Apollo II -makes those new Japanese hotel rooms that resemble coffins with televisions seem like a room at The Four Seasons.
Remarkably, there was an entire exhibit dedicated to the exploration for extraterrestrial life, which I thought was quite forward thinking of our government. Considering how much time, money and resources that have been and will continue to be squandered in an effort to completely discredit anyone, regardless of rank or credibility who claims to have seen a UFO, it was a noble, empty gesture. But very entertaining!
All in all a truly fascinating museum with loads I didn’t get to see this time due to the fact that I had to meet Heather to go gaze at antique Asian vases. But for anyone interested in the history of Aviation and the evolving history of our space program this is a must see. Get there early and plan to spend the whole day there. Next time I will. Emperor Ming and all his stuff will just have to wait. Vietnam Vets Memorial- This was by far the most intense exhibit we saw - 58,000 useless deaths. An unhinging experience, especially for Heather, who as a singer, did two tours of Vietnam and was the first woman to go to remote combat outposts to entertain the troops with the USO.
The Lincoln Memorial-Beautiful, and I will NEVER EVER let anyone give me a hard time about run on sentences again. Abe Lincoln, unparalleled run on sentence meister supreme and wonderful they were too, Abe!
The White House tour- Once every 38 years, like clockwork, I like to take this tour. Heather insisted we take it before Bill left office and George Jr. took over, so in the interest of continued domestic tranquility, I acquiesced. It wasn’t so much the two and a half hours we had to wait in below freezing temperatures that bothered me (although that was pretty irritating,) as much as having to endure with polite indifference the seemingly endless inane prattle that the two women in front of me mistook for conversation. I cannot believe anyone could find the discussion of the merits of various Posture Pedic sofa beds so endlessly fascinating as these two donuts did, and for the better part of two hours no less.
Once inside and defrosted I had to admit it was pretty impressive. This was the once a year candlelight tour which happens for 3 evenings only over the Christmas holidays. 90 decorators working for 3 days straight, if that’s the right term. Imagine the cat fights breaking out there! Still, fairly breathtaking, and the decorations too. We behaved like complete tourists and then hobbled back to our hotel.
The New Year
2001 began with a series of interesting and varied musical assignments. NAMM came and went with an enjoyable series of appearances with keyboardist Vince DiCola and “Chicago” lead vocalist and bassist Jason Sheff for the Alesis folks. Once again I found myself probing the depths of the new Midi machinery that Alesis came out with and praying to the Patron Saint of Midi to bless me with divine inspiration or at the very least, intervention. Sandwiched in between was a real highlight and a breath of acoustic relief for me. I found myself playing real acoustic drums behind the unlikely aggregation of lead singers Jason Sheff and Bill Champlin (Chicago), Alex Ligertwood (Santana), and Bobby Kimball (Toto) playing songs from each of their groups. They were kind enough to lend their vocals to a couple of pieces from the “Thread” record, which they performed beautifully. Vince performed on keyboards of course and rounding out the group was Lance Morrison on bass and Doug Bossi on guitar from Don Henley’s band and Whitesnake respectively.
Following quickly on the heels of that was a surreal pair of concerts for a Los Angeles Fundraiser benefiting inner city youth. This time I was backing up a truly bizarre configuration of individuals ranging from the singing and dancing doctors of “E.R.”(Yikes!), Jason Alexander of “Seinfeld” notoriety, Karla DiVito, Meatloaf’s great female vocalist, to Eddie Van Halen. This was loosely termed a musical revue, as there was a propensity of other notable “theater” type sorts who came and did a turn. Jon Bauser, lead singer of Sha Na Na and his son get a special mention for a very unique version of “Bridge over Troubled Waters” that might have given Paul Simon reason to reconsider the wisdom of penning this in the first place. Still it raised a lot of money for a very good cause and who can argue with that. Eddie’s turn was by far the most unusual, exciting and loud part of the evening. I always say there is nothing like a nice segue from “Send in the Clowns” to “Hot for Teacher” to get peoples attention. But amazingly people dug it and even stayed to the end of the song! It was an absolutely fantastic band to play with and we played everything from Stephen Sondheim’s intricate arrangements, which might be equivalent to if Frank Zappa wrote for musical theater to big band swing arrangements, bizarre stop/go theater pieces, rap and even some rock for the young people. Finally all that time playing in Broadway pit orchestras pays off! A good time was had by all and it’s not everyone who can say they were nearly run over in a parking lot at 2 am by a speeding Eddie Van Halen in a pickup truck.
Before leaving for Europe with the band I did some interesting session work, first for a Japanese instrumental group called T-Square who were like an eastern cross between Steely Dan and Larry Carlton-very challenging, interesting music. Following that Vince DiCola asked me to go in the studio with him to record the racing theme for the Formula One races to be played before each event. Wonderful arrangement of an exciting, high energy track with Bobby Kimball’s vocal on top. Squeezed in one last, highly enjoyable session with Valerie Landsburg, a very talented composer and vocalist for her new CD before leaving for Nashville with Tull to film a show at the Wild Horse Saloon for the TNN Network.
Europe and America-Summer 2001
We had a fantastic European tour taking in sights and places, old and new in Western and Eastern Europe. This time we had the colorful and charismatic Young Dubliners with us, introducing them to a new Euro audience who seemed to take to them as instantly as they took to the local beer. I had the dubious distinction of being the official Young Dubs tour photographer by default, as all their cameras seemed to break as soon as they got to Europe. Must be the voltage. Never mind, that gave me a good excuse to break in my new digital camera and turn into a really intrusive nuisance to one and all. In the process I got some really good shots and some truly awful ones which you can probably find displayed on the Dubs and our website. Still, it’s a lot of fun and I snapped with impunity although quite often the local security would try to turf me out when I snuck in front of the crash barrier to snap the Dubs, live in action, from the front of the stage. Despite showing them my All Access Pass and trying to convince them that I was actually a member of J.T., which they thought was complete baloney, I found I had much better luck when I told them I was the official Young Dubs tour photographer, sent out on the road by the record company and employed by the band. They found this much more plausible until the moment when some over-refreshed bozo in the front row would recognize me and start hassling me to take his picture, share his beer, his wife, his bratwurst or just start breathing heavily on me until I gave HIM some attention. Rarely was this ever a “her” and the few times that it was tended to be the female version of suspect #1. One thing I have noticed is that some European women appear to have an aversion to shaving under their arms. What’s this all about? Anyway, there is a possible second career waiting for me as a rock photographer-Oh, I can hardly wait!
Things seemed to be going along nicely on our scenic tour of spatzle houses, pasta palaces and curry depots until I started feeling like I was developing a sensitive Martin Barre like gut. Now if there is one thing that anyone who knows me can attest to, it is this; I have a cast iron gut and very little ever troubles me food-wise, anywhere in the world. There has got to be something seriously off before my stomach reacts. Perhaps this is a result of years and years of very spicy food, killing off all normal sensitivity to the average bacteria. But something was starting to go really very wrong. I got food poisoning once, not in India, Bolivia, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, South Africa, Turkey or Eastern Europe but in Anaheim, California at a Pizza Hut! Well, this was about the worst pain I had ever felt and this felt eerily similar, except this pain would mysteriously come and go with no particular pattern apart from the increasing frequency. Ian had convinced himself and much of the audience, as he was starting to integrate this malaise into his onstage patter, that there was some kind of Alien Love Child, or the ALC as he liked to refer to it, to which I was about to give birth. By the end of the European tour I was starting to think he might be right. I was getting seriously ill and only narrowly made it home to the USA between attacks. Fortunately, it never happened onstage because if it had, it would have been a definite show ender for me.
I limped home and immediately went to the doctors, followed by several hospital visits for various tests before it was determined that I had a fairly sizeable kidney stone. I’m glad it was not something more sinister but this news was bad enough. I have enjoyed pretty good health most of my adult life and this is the first serious health problem I have had in a very long time. As we only had about 10 days between the European and American legs I had no choice but to opt for immediate surgery. This was not what I had in mind but there was very little choice. Without going into all the unpleasant little details, I underwent the surgery with the understanding that there was no guarantee that they could get the stone although they felt that this procedure offered the best opportunity.
I hated my first encounter with anesthetics the first time at age 9, when I had a tonsillectomy and this new encounter offered me no good reason to revise that opinion. Anesthetics are scary and unpredictable. Afterwards, in the recovery room, I was informed that the surgery was a failure and that they were unable to get the stone and I now had no choice but to go out on the road with it still a part of me. This filled me with absolute dread, as I knew how unpredictable it could be. I don’t think of myself as particularly squeamish but I can safely say I have never felt discomfort quite like this. However, once that morphine drip kicked in I frankly didn’t really care. I suddenly understood how junkies get started and strung out. You just simply trade it all in for that one primal need and when that is taken care of nothing else matters. Of course, all good things come to an end and I got unceremoniously booted out of the hospital and back to reality.
Trying to find the good, or at least the acceptable in all of this has strengthened my resolve to change some things in my day to day life. This damned stone means there are certain foods that I really like that I just have to cut out or severely curtail. A stricter diet and regime of exercise is necessary, although I don’t really mind that as long as I don’t have to go to a gym and do it with a group of lunatic gym rats gyrating to annoying disco music. Due to this delightful little episode I managed to shed 14 pounds, which was not a bad thing, although not quite the way I envisioned doing it and considerably more expensive to boot.
I managed to get through, at times a bit delicately, both legs of the American tour without further incident and I must say the band was great about the whole thing and very understanding. I was very, very worried initially about whether or not I was going to be able to cope with playing at all, particularly when I first came out of the hospital and only had a few days before the opening concert. At that point I just couldn’t imagine having to go back on tour with that kind of postoperative discomfort. However, once I got to Cleveland for the first U.S. date and got through the gig without serious incident, I felt enormously relieved and saw that with care and pacing, I could manage the shows. The thought of having to cancel was far too distressing because of the inevitable domino effect it would have on band, crew, promoters and people who had bought tickets and so I spoke to a few friends, who are very good drummers, who agreed to step in if necessary. That would have been a highly pressurized situation for them, to say the least, as well as the band to have to deal with on such short notice, and so I am very grateful to them for standing by me in the event of an unfortunate downturn. I am going to be going in soon for another procedure to try to break this thing up and rid myself once and for all of it. I hope before too long this will only be a distant, if unpleasant memory that remains just that. On to better days.
From a Stretch Limo to a Tijuana Taxi
Oh, the changing fortunes of traveling musicians. One minute Donald Trump’s white stretch limo is shuttling you silently into New York City in garish and slightly embarrassing style with a full refrigerator of drinks and hors d’oeuvres and the next moment you’re in a tin can of a taxi, held together with bungee cords, wire ties and superglue, hurtling through the streets of Tijuana in one gut wrenching swerve after another. I’m not sure if sitting in the business class section of the Sea Cat ferry from Tallin to Helsinki getting tossed from side to side by the rough waters of the Baltic Sea are any better however. It’s just a more European version. The sea hostesses were considerately handing out sick bags to any needy passengers while kindly informing them that it was “going to get a bit worse”. Typical European understatement. This is a bit like the doctor informing you that ”this is going to hurt us a little bit”. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The long, slightly perilous and at times even comical journey from Los Angeles to Oslo was an adventure worthy of an S.J. Perelman travelogue. I am not being dismissive of or minimizing the incredibly sad events that necessitated such a journey as it certainly was not one I would have freely elected to undertake in less stressful times. But we had a tour that we were committed to doing.
My drum tech, Jay Rubin, and I left around midnight on Thursday Sept 13th just 2 days after the hideous U.S. terrorist attacks in an effort to avail ourselves of one of the last possible opportunities to get out of the US and to Europe before all borders were completely closed. Canada’s border was completely shut and Mexico’s border crossing was erratically going up and down like Jay’s trousers in an East European “hospitality bar”. Leaving L.A. like spies in the night and driving ourselves down to San Clemente, where we picked up Tony X, our driver for the remainder of the trip and returner of our rental vehicle, which was not permitted inside Mexico, we contemplated the journey ahead.
Arriving at Tony the Shark’s home in the middle of the night we awakened him from peaceful sleep. We noted a very odd phenomenon occurring however as we approached his house. In this quiet suburban neighborhood there were women, on their own and in groups of two’s and three’s, jogging or power walking. Young to very old and no men whatsoever. Now if this were 6 or 7am you could explain this away as America waking up and getting fit and ready for the day, but it was the middle of the night! The Stepford Wives weren’t any stranger than this although they were much better dressed. Leaving the surreal suburbia of San Clemente for the even more surreal climate of Tijuana, we continued southwards.
Approaching the outskirts of the Mexican border we were confronted with an ungodly traffic backup which was not completely unexpected, as we knew many US citizens who absolutely had to travel might be considering this option as well. The first sign of things to come occurred as we approached the border driving in the left hand lane of traffic, whereupon we saw the first and only sign announcing that 200 feet ahead is the LAST EXIT for US citizens wishing to drop off people going into Mexico. Of course we missed it because we couldn’t get across 5 lanes of cars in 200 feet. Thinking there might be one more hidden opportunity before the border we were forced to continue. We finally managed to pull over to a customs section where there were Mexican policemen and other officials doing very little, which was disconcerting considering the volume of traffic and the events of the previous two days. They really didn’t seem at all interested in why we were traveling or what we were carrying in the car. Through a series of broken translations, pidgin English, appalling Spanish and hand gestures we managed to elicit enough information from them to irrefutably confirm the fact that we had indeed missed the last exit and Swiss Tony would now have to drive across the border and wait in line, which the policemen conservatively estimated at 3-4 hours, to get back into the USA. Tony Bones then became VERY PISSED OFF.
Obviously this was not part of our agreement and he turned beet red, started swearing profusely (fortunately in English) so much so I thought we might land in a Tijuana jail. As he was jumping up and down, kicking the tires and plotting how he might be able to back up the car on the soft shoulder to the US side, the convivial polizi was directing Jay and I to the nearest taxi stand. Calling the vehicle we stepped into a taxi would be like calling George Bush Jr. a grammarian. We rattled, banged and careened headlong through the streets of Tijuana with little regard for traffic, red lights or luckless pedestrians. Screeching into Tijuana airport we were met with an army of hustlers and “baggage” handlers. Once inside the terminal it became glaringly apparent that the events of the previous days might as well not have occurred, for the complete lack of security in evidence. Jay and I managed to get through Immigration without even producing our passports by virtue of the fact that there was no one there. Apparently it was time for Mr. Immigration Man’s coffee break as his desk was totally deserted and people were sailing right by and proceeding to the carry on baggage x-ray machine. Security might as well been having a coffee break too for the amount of attention that they were paying to people’s carry on items. But the most alarming was yet to come. After about 20 minutes of trying to place an overseas call to let the English side know that we had made it at least this far, I gave up. Telepathic communication or even string and a tin can would have been more effective. We finally sat down in the Tijuana International Airport Coffee Shop, which also seemed to double as some sort of gambling casino/ bookie joint where, throwing caution to the wind, I ordered some breakfast.
As we had been informed by the Aero Mexico check in personnel that there would be no meal service on the 3 ½ hour flight to Mexico City I thought it a good idea to have something now as we hadn’t eaten since the night before. Sometimes you tend to forget, living so close to the border, that Mexico is not just another country but an entirely different way of food preparation and handling. Wisely, Jay opted to fast, but I rather unwisely decided eggs and ham sounded nice. The consequence of that decision was rather long lasting and now fills me with dread whenever I see these two perishables living together on one plate. While
I was enjoying this Mexican delicacy Jay wandered off to have a look around the shops, or as it turned out, the shop. He came back in a highly agitated state demanding that I go over myself and have a look. Inside this quaint little gift shop was the usual tourist bric-a-brac, travel sundries and a lovely collection of knives, one or two of which would have done an excellent job of gutting fish. All duty free of course. Alarming as this was, much more worrying was the fact that we were beyond the last checkpoint. From here it was a mere 50 feet to the gate and straight on to the plane with your duty free purchases. Judging from the flimsiness of the cockpit door on our Aero Mexico flight, I think the average child would find it harder to get into our pantry through the slatted accordion divider than this poor excuse for security. Nevertheless we boarded the flight and I’m happy to report that nothing happened except Jay’s hunger pains and a general feeling of relief when we landed in Mexico City.
After navigating the delicate intricacies of the so-called Immigration Department and Customs we made our way to British Airways to check in for our evening overseas flight. Fortunately we had a few hours in between flights to straighten out the fairly substantial oversight of the Tijuana Immigration Dept, which as I said before, was on a donut break or something equally important. It turned out both Jay and I entered the country totally illegally, which is quite a reversal of fortunes for our Mexican neighbors! If they want to keep those Americans out of their country they are really going to have to try a little bit harder than this. We managed to get through three major security points without having to produce one shred of evidence as to why we were here or where we were going. As a result we were made to circumnavigate the convoluted intestinal track that comprises the rabbit warren like maze of administrative back offices inside the Mexico City Airport, trying to find the right one which would grant our late and unexpected immigration request without first sending us off to airport jail for review. With this at last accomplished we set off in search of a non toxic dinner for gringos, which proved, I’m happy to say, to be a much better experience than the Tijuana episode. Setting off for the gate we found, yet again, Mexican security for carry on luggage was minimal and largely disinterested, and once inside the departure terminal any evidence of the New York tragedy was largely overshadowed by a local soccer game dominating the televisions.
It was a tremendous relief to finally board the British Airways 747 Jumbo to London. Despite the heightened sense of tension, they displayed some of the nicest, most courteous and comfortable service I have ever experienced in the air, although I cannot compare it to that most illustrious of airborne clubs known as The Mile High Club. I am not a member, although I’ll bet Jay’s dues are fully paid up. The rest of the journey was reasonably peaceful and uneventful although we were required three times to change our flight course, once to avoid American airspace and twice to avoid a nasty hurricane off the coast of Cuba, which did produce some spectacular lightning and one phenomenal pressure drop. Still, it was good to reach Heathrow and the relative calm of England and I went to the cockpit to thank the captain and his crew, who were very gracious but also relieved to have reached home territory without incident.
It was great to see the band and crew the next day when we met at the airport to fly the final leg to Oslo. Just to regain that kind of day to day normalcy, such as it is on the road, is important and I think we all felt it immediately upon seeing one another.
I am in my hotel room in Stockholm, feeling a very long way from home. Sometimes the road can be a lonely place even when you're traveling amongst friends and colleagues, but it feels particularly lonely right now. The sad, tragic events in America two weeks ago heighten the degree of homesickness that I am feeling. After growing up and living in New York City for 35 years it is heartening to see, amidst such devastating tragedy, the genuine empathetic concern and support that Americans and people the world over, with a few notable exceptions, have shown towards their fellow men and women. But watching the news still continues to be just overwhelmingly heartbreaking and fills me with an inexpressible sorrow. Knowing some of the people who perished high up in the South Tower, I find it still grips me with horror as I try to imagine what must have been going through their minds and the thousands of other poor souls in those final moments. I still seem to have very little control of when these thoughts will randomly grab and shake me down. The paralysis and powerlessness that many of us feel through our inability to change such an inexorable event is tempered, I suppose, by the knowledge, that to ultimately give in to those feelings would mean that we really have lost to those evil bastards. Most people are far too hurt and angry to allow those emotions to gain a permanent foothold, although the process of grieving and rebuilding is going to be a long, slow, painful one.
I’m one of the lucky ones who love my job and it’s a small comfort to think that maybe what we do helps some people get through their day. I know it helps me get through my day even when the traveling gets me down. At it's best, music can be a powerful antidote to chaos, confusion and grief and I would like to think that there is a measure of healing and peace that it will bring, to me and to others.
We still enjoy freedom here in the West and are likely to continue so despite these horrific attacks. I’m just wondering how Bin Laden is enjoying life in his cave right now? I trust our tour will continue to go uneventfully and that we can bring some light to people.
Who would have thought that October would be upon us so quickly? After another year of touring I now find myself in the heart of the English countryside with time to reflect and relax. Actually, relaxing is hard work in itself when you're not used to it.
Anyway, what a fun time we had in Italy with the L'Orchestra del Teatro Regio!
We flew into Verona where we were met by the Itullians (Italian fan club) president Aldo Tagliaferro, who was looking decidedly stressed but relieved that we had made it without delays and with all our excess baggage. Aldo coordinated the orchestra and the venues and did so splendidly. After a brief visit to our hotel in Parma we were whisked away in our convoy of gleaming Volvos to meet the orchestra and rehearse.
Volvo Volvo Volvo. I love Volvos. I wonder if I can get a Volvo endorsement - my T5 has done 97,000 miles and............
What happened? Did I black out?
So, Parma is a great city for a city, and the Teatro Regio was in the centre surrounded by piazzas and churches and all manner of great coffee outlets.
After a quick stroll it was time to meet our stagemates for the next three nights. The girls and boys in the orchestra greeted us with excitement as did Ian's flutemate Andrea Griminelli who was performing solo as well as with us and the orchestra. After rehearsal we were treated to a huge dinner at the hotel, thank you again Aldo.
The next day was quite sunny and ideal for scouting out the town for a few hours before more rehearsal and the concert that evening. The difference between our orchestral outings and the Tull gig is the sheer terror of walking out onto a stage that is fully lit and full of real musicians with sheet music in front of them, and that you can see every member of the audience as if they were in your living room.
I guess I'm used to the Tull stage with all it's familiar cables and lights and places to trip up, and when you don't have those comforting props it makes for a pretty nervy experience. I think we pulled it off however - even though there was a tense moment when Snr. Griminelli missed out a passage of music leaving myself and the conductor Danilo Rossi to rapidly change tack and go with him.
We were lucky though to have the same orchestra for both the Parma and Cesena concerts and I watched with envy and admiration as they effortlessly sawed and tootled their way through the sheet music, often making notes for themselves as they played. My neighbours on stage, the Cellists, were turning the pages with their bows between bars, and didn't once complain about my keyboard amplifier being almost under their feet. The next day it was off to Cesena.
A two hour drive brought us to Cesena where the venue was significantly different to the Teatro in as much as it seemed to be a sportshall of some kind that had been fitted with some acoustic panels, that didn't really work! During rehearsals we had some issues with monitoring each other in a wash of echo and confusion that unfortunately plagued us during the concert aswell. It was a great show all the same - Snr. Griminelli played correctly the missing passage of the previous evening, and I didn't! Grrrrrrr! Apologies to all who noticed :-)
Another huge dinner rounded off our visit, so equally huge Thank Yous to Aldo, Giorgio, Alberto, Sergio for their expert organization/driving/dinners. Also a special thanks to Francesca the Cellist who got the whole orchestra to sign my poster :-)
Back home then as I languish in my robe I spare a thought for my buddy Kit Morgan who accompanied us on our Italian trip and the guys who are currently in rehearsal for the 'Rubbing Elbows' tourette. I will indeed be sorry not to see you all this time around but I know you'll enjoy the guys and I'm sure you'll look after them like you do me :-)
Will you look at the time? I have to get out of my robe and get some work done in the studio. Take care one and all, and next time I see you I'll be rested and ready for action, albeit a little older!
I recently wrote this piece originally intended for publication in a centenary book for St. Bernard’s, my old alma mater. They had asked if I could provide any interesting recollections. Well, I’m not sure about that, but at least until I can finish a proper JT update of activities some of you may derive a peculiar delight in knowing my humble performance origins. Others may experience an uncomfortable identification with this cautionary tale of youthful ambition.
Clunko was getting VERY upset. Ironically, the audience was also enjoying the biggest laugh of the entire show at the same time. Peering into the wings I could see his face reddening with that all too familiar look, which preceded some inevitable outburst that in all probability, would be headed straight in my direction. UHHH OHHH!!! There was really very little I could do at that point to change the course of onstage events and the domino effect that was clearly underway.
Let’s back up a bit. Mr. McClung had chosen for this year’s class production, to do an adaptation of “The Wind in the Willows”. We were all familiar with the story and agreed that this was a good choice. Casting….hmmmm. Most of us wanted to be in it in some way, preferably in a starring role, despite any real or even imagined natural thespian talent or experience. I don’t really know what he was expecting from a bunch of excitable, spotty fifth graders but apparently he had “great faith” in us! Oh, what a disappointment we must have been to him, myself most notably.
I was cast in the fairly unglamorous role as the chauffeur to Mr. Toad. Determined to make the most of this lean but obviously pivotal character to the story, I endeavored to learn my few lines and speak them with gusto, feeling, subtlety and a seasoned maturity, which would reveal an innately natural command of the role and my thorough knowledge of the character’s inner workings. There could be so many ways to say, “ Well, here we are Mr. Toad”, that could be infused with nuanced layers of meaning. I was on a mission. Yes, and I could even see my life’s work laid out before me in a glorious moment of clarity. An epiphany and I was only ten!
Meanwhile, back to reality. Rehearsals began and I was busying myself in art class designing, with Mr. Lukatch’s help, the ultra sleek vehicle in which I would be chauffeuring Mr. Toad. This is where the hard reality of the limited production budget became glaringly evident to me. While I had imagined a miniature three dimensional replica of the classy black Jaguar that Mr. Steed and Mrs. Peel from “The Avengers” had stylishly driven around in, the actual budget allotment for props would only provide for a piece of painted plywood cut out in the shape of a car with the lid of an old paint can nailed on top as a steering wheel. I should have seen trouble coming right there and then and put my foot down, demanding an upgrade on artistic and aesthetic grounds but unhappily I caved in and acquiesced to the greater good of the production, not to mention Clunko’s potential response to such an extravagant production cost.
The dress rehearsals went reasonably smoothly and without incident, which, as anyone in show business knows, should have been the first indication that trouble was afoot. As the actual performance date loomed, anticipation and excitement grew amongst my classmates. This would be the year’s crowning moment of artistic expression for the “Young Artistes” of Class 5B.
The performance seemed to be going pretty well although I was conscious of my car behaving a bit erratically due to the paint can lid which seemed to be losing it’s purchase on the plywood steering column. Then it happened. As we “drove” to the middle of the stage, which in actuality meant walking in a low crouching position behind the plywood car, the script called for Mr. Toad and his friend, played by Sam Butler and Mark Lawrence (or it may have been the other way around), to leap out of the car and say their next lines. Well, that small thin nail through the paint can lid had had enough and saw fit at that juncture to liberate the “steering wheel” from the rest of the car when Sam’s foot struck it sideways in a moment of hammy overacting zealousness as he was exiting the plywood dream machine. This resulted in the 5/8” thick car virtually disappearing as it fell flat onstage leaving me unceremoniously holding the paint can lid with a nail sticking through it. Needless to say this was to the complete and utter delight of the entire audience who were howling with laughter at this point, drowning out poor Sam and Mark’s attempts to speak their lines.
They made a hasty exit leaving me onstage by myself to contend with an unruly audience, a collapsed car and an increasingly irate Clunko in the wings, gesticulating wildly to me to GET THE HELL OFF THE STAGE!!! He was growing visibly more agitated the longer I was out there. On the one hand I was paralyzed by fear with the thought of Clunko waiting in the wings to give me a serious lecture about my general lack of professionalism and on the other I was beginning to enjoy the odd sensation and elation of being at the center of all this rather unexpected attention. They were laughing!
Not being able to clearly delineate between that fine line of being laughed at or with, I nonetheless carried on as if this was a scripted part of the play. Inspired by this latest turn of events, I casually adjusted my driving cap and then leaning over, picked up the flattened car, put in under my arm, stood bolt upright and carried it off the stage, car in one hand and steering wheel in the other. This only served to send the audience reeling into further gales of laughter, at the absurdity of the whole thing, which absolutely sent Clunko completely around the bend. Head in hands and redder than I had ever seen him, I thought he was going to have a coronary right there, but probably only after strangling me first. Clunko towered over me, glaring down and apoplectic, unable to speak.
I think I spoke first, saying something along the lines of, “Well they certainly seemed to enjoy that.” This was NOT a good thing to say, even if it was true. My appropriation of his directorial role, even for a brief moment onstage, went completely unappreciated by him. Some gratitude, especially after THAT fantastic response. Mr. Westgate (the school principal) offered a more deeply disturbing and frosty reception to me later that afternoon when he passed me in the hallway. A completely nonverbal exchange, he simply arched one those azalea bush-like eyebrows at me, while squinting through half closed eyes over his bifocals, as a penetrating and wilting 1000 watt stare emanated from his stern visage, turning my knees to last Friday’s Jell-O. Anybody who ever got “The Ray” knows EXACTLY what I am talking about and just how scary it was to encounter. Undoubtedly, it is permanently etched in the psyche of all whose path it crossed.
One would think I might have learned my lesson all those years ago and perhaps have considered a more stable and sane occupation. Realizing that I was going to be no threat to Olivier, DiNiro or even Mr. Green Jeans I instead moved laterally and ended up as a professional musician. Now understandably one would assume that little or no thespian disposition is required of a working musician but AHH, how wrong you could be. For many years following, my acting talent lay dormant and unexplored, coiled up like a sleeping cobra, anticipating the slightest provocation to justify springing back into action.
Doing studio session work in New York and Los Angeles for records, film, television, the occasional Broadway show or TV soap opera and touring live with different artists continued to be fun and satisfying work but there was a deeper itch needing to be scratched. Oddly, no one except myself seemed to sense the volcanic acting talent that lay dormant within me. With the advent of MTV, I began appearing in some music videos with a few different artists I was working with who gave me some latitude for personal expression, although like many of the greats that came before me, most of my best acting work ending up on the cutting room floor. It was probably too intense for that limited medium and I just had to accept the fact that this might be a talent that only I alone could appreciate, as it certainly seemed like nobody else did! Still not taking the hint or giving up, I continued to work as a musician with this ace quietly up my sleeve.
Finally, in 1984 I was asked to join the wonderfully eccentric English group Jethro Tull, where I continue to serve as drummer, percussionist, occasional mediocre magician-comedian and dubious singing, violin miming character actor, plus I get to play the Glockenspiel. Oh Joy, at last a group that truly appreciates and exploits my musicianship AND marginal acting abilities. This just goes to show you that perseverance can really pay off!
It’s nearly time to get ready for this year’s touring – ooh goody goody! Well, let’s see – when did I last write a diary update? Was it ages ago?
Hopefully everyone had a good Christmas or whatever you celebrated around the end of last year. All of us at Tull Towers had varying degrees of festiveness, of course you know we all live together in a huge stone castle, and on Christmas day we all gathered round the tree to open our presents. Unfortunately I had managed to mix up the labels on my gifts to Ian and his family, but he looks quite the dandy in the ladies gloves and scarf.
One I had recovered form the New Year celebrations it was time to get on with different musical projects including the new Tull project – more on that later.
So back to the present day, some of you lovely people may know I’m a bit of a plane-spotter. I mean, I don’t have the anorak but I am sometimes to be found at the end of the runway at a Royal Air force base close to where I live. I know I should get out more, but it keeps me out of the pub.
Anyway, just the other day I hurried down to a different Air force base a few miles further away in the hope of getting in on the buzz created by the arrival of 14, yes 14 USAF B52 bombers due to be stationed there. Well, I arrived along with a whole bunch of other rubber-neckers to find the planes had flown in earlier that morning, so nothing much to see or hear in the noisy landing department.
Not to be deterred, I drove around the perimeter of the base and found myself a secluded but public lane in which to park and have the lunch I had just procured from a nearby Scottish restaurant.
As is often the case, I sat my air-band receiver on the dash in the hopes of tuning in to any interesting broadcasts from the tower or approach traffic controllers. As there were still a few on-lookers in the area there was something of a police presence in assorted vehicles, but as they all drove past me several times without incident I figured that if they had a problem with me being there they would doubtless move me on.
An hour or so later, just as I was really regretting my choice of lunch and preparing to leave, a police van whose occupants had already scoped me out several times pulled up and stopped beside me. English policemen are usually very courteous and as I was by now a little bored I wound down my window to greet an approaching officer.
He smiled and asked if the vehicle was mine, all pretty standard stuff, and of course I answered to the affirmative. At that moment his interest was suddenly aimed towards the air-band receiver that he referred to as a “scanner”, sitting on the dash. He asked what I was listening to and I told him that there wasn’t much to listen to.
This is where it all gets a little silly.
He motioned to the remaining occupants of the vehicle, numbering five, and they joined him at my window and around my car. I was asked to get out of the vehicle as the initiating officer looked puzzlingly at my radio receiver. He asked me if I was listening to police broadcasts, and I replied that I wasn’t at the end of a runway to listen to police broadcasts, that, on the odd occasion I have heard them are frankly uninteresting. Still clutching the receiver, he was then interested in some notes on the passenger seat of my car. I told him I was a musician and they were chords to music I had been working on earlier that week.
I got the feeling that this guy was either unhappy with the situation, over-sensitive in theses troubled times or just plain bored. Next thing I knew the hood was up, as was the trunk, doors wide open, seat-pockets emptied and sifted through, I was being searched by six policemen in a lane on a Wednesday afternoon in the English countryside! My details were radioed in to the big ‘computer in a cupboard’ to confirm my identity. Another officer found a huge bag of musical instrument cords and cables in the trunk, again left-over from earlier Tull recording. He even joked to his buddies that is could be the makings of an explosive device. I reminded him that as a frequent air traveler myself, those kind of ‘jokes’ are the stuff of a good telling-off. He didn’t reply.
Once they had satisfied themselves that I wasn’t an international terrorist they put my car back together. I suppose the worst part of all this is that they confiscated my air-band radio! They said it had to go to ‘the lab’ to get checked out for I don’t know what. In the end I couldn’t work out what the issue actually was.
Was it that I had a ‘scanner’ and was listening to policemen chasing shop-lifters? Was it the presence of 14 nuclear capable B52 bombers in the English countryside? Whatever the reason it broke up my afternoon, and it has to be said that most English bobbies are very polite and courteous. It just remains to be seen whether or not I get my receiver back.
So back to more musical activities, me and the boys are busy working on our contributions towards the next Tull release, more detailed information of which I’m sure Ian will impart soon. We’re experimenting with producing our individual efforts in our own studios and via data exchange build the music digitally. It’s a novel way to work, and while most of the music has been played and recorded in a live environment, it’s good to be able to tweak the odd note.
Watch out for Ian’s next posting.
Well, will you look at the time………. Hands up who’s coming to see us in the spring/summer? Ok hands down.
Ian Anderson, founding member of the legendary rock band Jethro Tull, has long been considered to be the foremost and, to many, the only exponent of rock-style flute. While still fronting Tull to this day with sell-out performances throughout the world, Ian Anderson now brings his acoustic talents to the orchestral stage. He will perform a selection of Tull favourites, solo songs and instrumentals together with a sprinkling of Classical repertoire, all carefully rearranged for amplified flute, acoustic-rock trio and, of course, members of the Symphony Orchestra. "The object here is not to force together unlikely combatants in unholy musical matrimony," says Ian. "The Rock band and Orchestra thing goes way back to the early days of Progressive Rock in the late sixties. As the acoustic musician of Jethro Tull, I prefer a more sympathetic synthesis of classical guitar, piano, and sympathetic percussion, drums and bass together with traditional orchestral instruments. This is a more ambient setting where all of the musicians can leave the theater with both eardrums and dignity impact! We try for a vigorous Rock feel without brute force volume."
Tull fans will recognize such songs as Equaling [sic], Locomotive Breath, Thick As A Brick, My God and Budapest, interspersed with varied pieces from Anderson's acoustic material, past and present.
So - what is it like to play in this musical context with Tull and Anderson solo material shared amongst so many musicians?
Ian says, "Well, firstly, it is a little harrowing and we are all a little nervous regarding each other's technical skills and our distinct and sometimes opposing separate musical backgrounds. But after a rehearsal (or three) we are settled to the task of working together and beginning to sense the thrill of performance on the public level."
"I try to keep firmly in mind that the collective musical force works as giant acoustic ensemble and that we acoustic rockers at the core of the performance are guests at the orchestral house and must fit in, in terms of both volume and sound. The slightly amplified nature of the orchestra and the function of solo instruments and vocals from me and the other core musicians must never get out of hand. The audience's ears adjust quickly to the overall sound level and the power of the orchestrations and the pulse of the orchestra itself sounds plenty big enough without ever approaching typical rock concert levels - although we do turn it up a tad towards the end!"
"The delicate sections with string quartet or woodwind duo are very satisfying and the improvisational elements are still there - at least for me - provided I remember to cue the conductor for the return to the written score again. Train wrecks are spectacular if I get it wrong. Well worth the price of a ticket in themselves!"
"If the opportunity presents itself, I should like to work with more orchestras in the USA and elsewhere in the world during the next two years - not on a daily basis, since the rehearsal and production realities make it too arduous - but frequently enough to keep the momentum of a tour going. Three shows a week might be possible with the odd Rubbing Elbows solo acoustic show thrown in here and there. Let's see what transpires in 2002/3 and maybe the addition of new material from upcoming writing and recording sessions will bring more spice to the table."
Lars Karsten of WAZ reviewed Ian's shows in Germany earlier this year:
The Bottom Symphony Orchestra took these songs in new directions and their interaction with Ian Anderson's famous flute was very impressive. The "inventor" of the Rock Flute showed himself to be in excellent mood.
"Budapest" was presented in a great version and. As an encore, ended the event. The visibly excited 4000 visitors returned from the Hippie Era into real life.
Karsten Mark of Ruhr Nachrichten said:
He can still do it! Standing on one leg and playing the wildest solos with sharp accentuations and a characteristic sound, Ian Anderson is still the top flute player in rock.
Director and conductor, Steven Sloane shared this fun-filled opportunity with his musicians of the Bochum Symphoniker, who played at their very best. The audience received the full benefit of the collective performance due in part to the skill of the sound technicians, with the quality, unusually for this kind of project, being will balanced between orchestra, band, and vocals.
And from Italy:
Mauro Sartori, "Il Giornale di Vicenza"
A storm of cheering for a perfect marriage. At the Teatro Regio in Parma the sacred and the profane turned out to be the ideal ingredients of a magic soiree. "From Bach to Jethro Tull" or, simple as that, from Andrea Griminelli's to Ian Anderson's flute for nearly three hours of Music with capitol "M"... A thrill of pleasure among Tull fans for "Life Is A Long Song" and "Wond'ring Aloud", rarely performed live by Jethro Tull, yet perfectly suitable for orchestral arrangement... You could easily feel the patent amusement of the conductor Danilo Rossi, usually first viola at the Scala Theatre in Milan.
Dina Bartoli, "La Gazzetta di Reggio"
Griminelli, perfectly fitting the part of the classical flute player, was free and easy; while instintive, whimsical and jestery Anderson dominated both the scene and his flute... The genius of Danilo Rossi succeeded in putting naturally together the orchestra and the band.
Franco Giubilei, "La Stampa"
Arriving at the Teatro Regio in Parma to clash rock's most famous flute with the classic instrument of Andrea Griminelli, Ian Anderson was able to cast a spell upon the audience as he would do leading Jethro Tull... Anderson still has charisma and listening to his flute playing during "My God" is still an incredible experience... The result is a show well balanced between Tull classical influences and the symphonic patchwork provided by the orchestra of the Teatro Regio... "In the Grip of Stronger Stuff", a wonderful "Bourréee" and the best excerpts from "Thick as a Brick" demonstrated that Ian Anderson is, after thirty odd years, a great live performer".
Marina Zuccon, "Il Gazzettino"
The meeting of two among the most extraordinaire flute players... Audience went absolutely crazy and in the stalls you could see the same dichotomy as on stage: ladies dressed for the grand soiréee and die-hard fans with Tull t-shirts".
Italian translations kindly provided by Aldo Tagliaferri.
From the instrumental Anderson solo album "Divinities - Twelve Dances With God". This album was recorded for EMI's Classical Music Division in 1995 and reached number one in the Billboard Classical Crossover charts. Anderson confines his performance to the flute and, together with Tull keyboardist Andrew Giddings, draws upon various ensembles of orchestral musicians to complement this eclectic conceptual work.
Boris Dancing (band alone)
From solo record Secret Language of Birds. Instrumental inspired by the unorthodox dance style of ex-Russian leader Boris Yeltsin.
Thick As A Brick
Jethro Tull's first LP-length epic is a masterpiece in the annals of progressive rock, and one of the few works of its kind that still holds up 25 years later. Written as a spoof on the concept album genre, it mixed hard rock and English Folk Music with classical influences, set to stream-of-consciousness lyrics so dense with imagery that some fans spent weeks pondering the meaning. The group created a dazzling tour-de-force performance, at once playful, profound, and challenging, without overwhelming the listener. The original LP was amongst the best sounding, best engineered record Tull ever released, easily capturing the shifting dynamics between the soft all-acoustic passages and the electric rock crescendos surrounding them. A radio playlist regular which sold over 6 million records worldwide.
Instrumental written by 70's Tull keyboardist and arranger David Palmer - favourite at weddings and funerals.
Life Is A Long Song (string quartet)
An acoustic gem from the early 70's.
Wond'ring Aloud (string quartet)
Contemplative love song from the Aqualung album.
In The Grip of Stronger Stuff/ In a Black Box
From the Anderson solo album Divinities. Wild Irish Folk-influenced workout followed by eerie theme from the Devil's music box.
Title track from the 1999 Jethro Tull album received airplay on classic rock stations nationwide. Features the Indian Classical bamboo flute.
Bouree (J. S. Bach)
Anderson's jazzy improvised development of Bach tune. Big favourite at Jethro Tull concerts past and present.
(INTERMISSION) Some Day the Sun Won't Shine For You (band alone)
Key track from the first Jethro Tull album "This Was". Harmonica lead piece in the tradition of Black American Folk Blues.
Jack In The Green (band alone)
A special treat for anyone with a fondness for the Tull's more folk-oriented material. This song, based on an English folk-lore woodland elf was featured on the album "Songs From The Wood".
Fantasia on Greensleeves (Ralph Vaughan Williams)
The composer might shift uneasily at the 7/8 time middle sequence added to his otherwise faithfully performed score.
Cheap Day Return (Oboe, Bassoon)
Acoustic piece from the Aqualung album.
Mother Goose (Oboe, Bassoon)
Surreal acoustic outing based on characters observed on a sunny day in London's Hampstead Heath public park.
From A Dead Beat To An Old Greaser
Nostalgic whimsy on the subject of 50's British social stereotypes. The Beatnik versus the Biker.
Too Old to Rock and Roll: Too Young To Die
Title track from the 1975 album which celebrates the old Rocker (Biker) who clings to his youth and the values associated with him and his peers.
Released at a time when a lot of bands were embracing pop-Christianity (a la Jesus Christ Superstar), Aqualung was a bold statement for a rock group; a pro-God anti-church tract that probably got lots of teenagers wrestling with these ideas for the first time in their lives. This was the album that made Jethro Tull a fixture on FM radio, with riff-heavy songs like "My God," "Hymn 43," "Locomotive Breath," "Cross-Eyed Mary," "Wind Up," as well as the title track. And from there, Tull became a major arena act, and a fixture at the top of the record charts for most of the 1970s. Mixing hard rock and folk melodies with Ian Anderson's dour musings on faith and religion, the record was extremely profound for a number seven chart hit, one of the most cerebral albums ever to reach such a wide audience of rock listeners. Still a staple of radio play today. Sold over 12 million albums. The orchestral version acknowledges the main themes of the song but develops and varies them to bring into the performance some new ideas and settings.
An essential piece from the Aqualung album which takes a provocative dig at organized religion.
Concert favourite from the Grammy winning album "Crest Of The Knave". Written after a concert in Budapest in 1986. Draws on folk, rock and classical traditions with sexy - but not sexist - lyrics.
(ENCORE) Locomotive Breath
Classic Tull rocker from the Aqualung album to end the show.
I can sense Adrian Stonemason's hand in this somewhere
How have you been? It’s been a while since I last had the time to sit down and write, but hopefully you’ve all been as busy and are fit and well.
So I find myself today (May 28, 2004) in Bucharest, Romania, after riding the crewbus over night (and over the next day too) from Serbia. A fifteen hour drive in a submarine punctuated by border stops involving the evacuation of all aboard at unheard of times of the morning, and various gaseous outpourings from neighboring bunks. I think you get the picture.
Getting My Wings
I think the last posting I made here was about my ride with The Blue Angles, the short video resulting in lots of emails requesting hard copies of aforementioned viewing. I have to ask: Why would anyone want to see their normally composed keyboardist in a state of total facial uncontrollability, accompanied by the sounds of early man learning to talk?
Anyway, for those who are still interested in my aviation activities I can happily report that I began my PPL Pilot License Course in December 2003, got my wings (solo) in January 2004 and completed my Cross Country Qualifier in March. All that remains is to take the final test which I hope to do as soon as I get back to Blighty. Editor's note: Andrew passed his final exam in the air on June 6th and now holds his Pilot's Licence.
As a brief background, when I was about ten years old my best friend Tim and I had already decided we were going to be Pilots when we grew up. That was until our math teacher informed me at least that my mathematical ability left a lot to be desired. (They actually said my math sucked and that I would never fly a plane). So thirty years on, I would like to meet that teacher, show them my license and hard-wire their Zimmer Frame into the mains outlet! Just kidding! You have to be so careful about what you joke these days, don’t you?
Vyktoria Keating CD Released
In other news, you will remember that some time ago I embarked on a musical cohort with one Vyktoria Keating. I can tell you that the polished results are now gleaming with musical ambiecence, (made up word) and available through her website www.vyktoria.com.
The CD was a while in the making, mainly due to the fact that I was the whole band and orchestra, and of course our schedules only allowed for intermittent progress. Anyway, the album is called ‘Things that Fall from the Sky’ and contains a collection of wonderfully written songs, and some half-decent sounds too J. You can order online from CD Baby.
Here are some reviews:
"Whether wrapped in the luscious textures of Andrew Giddings' production or lonely as a new-born lamb at Chritmas with only a well-travelled acoustic guitar for company, Vyktoria Pratt Keating never fails to deliver the message. The touching, provocative and observational songs pierce the heart, the soul and - if you buy this record - the wallet. Truly the troubadour, VPK combines age-old songstress eduction with technical expertise and offers up the musings of the thinking, feeling and sometimes vulnerable female presence, so much a part of contemporary music making." -- Ian Anderson, Jethro Tull, April 2003
From the ethereal progressive rock of "Disembodied Voices on Tape" to the exuberant pop-ness of "Spider" and the sci-fi syncopation of "Black Helicopters," this otherworldly music seems at times to have fallen straight from the stars. Things that Fall from the Sky blends both acoustic and electric instrumentation, featuring Vyktoria's unearthly vocals and guitar with lush, artistic production. The songs are rich in unusual subject matter including paranormal and fortean imagery, showcasing her gift for writing intelligent, inventive and surreal lyrics.
"Utterly enchanting" 14 out of 16 Stars! -- Progression Magazine
"Andrew has produced what I feel is one of the most wonderful albums I have ever heard." -- Gene Godfrey, Classic FM radio
"The death of comprehension demanded by the mass consumption of soul-less, song-less, pseudo-sexual harpies fostered on the public by a dying culture is the antithesis of the state of mind demanded to listen to the offerings of the true female artist. And It is such art that flows from the mind, heart and soul of Vyktoria Pratt Keating." -- Roger Bianchi, Mind Candy Magazine
"Carefully avoiding musical cliches and forging his own path, Andrew has created a truly unique sound for Vyktoria. This album is one that, come 20 years from now, you won't be able to tell when it was recorded."
-- Patrick Lydon, Tullworld.com
So please visit Vyktoria’s website and check out the new product. It is to date the closest thing to an A.G. solo record, and for those who are still asking I may actually try to put one together before the end of this year. Yes! It could start with a big crash of something and then slide into a ripply thing and then…………..
Back to the tour in hand there are three shows left to do: Bucharest tonight, Sophia Bulgaria tomorrow and Istanbul Turkey on Sunday. Then Ian is making me get up in the dark again to fly back to England! One of these days I’m gonna try going to bed before 3.00am….
We look forward to seeing you in Western Europe later this year, then in the USA in November, brrrrr.
Bye for now, take care and be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.
Greetings Dear Friends near and far, I’ve said it before, but can you believe that we’re nearly at the end of another year? Where does the time go? I mean, really, where does it go?Well, we spent some of it together, didn’t we?
Now that I’m settled again in Olde England and almost back to a normal sleeping pattern, I can look back fondly on my travels and adventures in Australia, where it was mostly warm and sunny but really far away, Europe, where it was mostly warm and sunny and much closer.
Latin and Central America was quite far away but really rather nice, especially as I was about the only one that didn’t get the runs! And most recently North America where I experienced sunburn, hurricane fall-out, bone-snapping cold, snow, the theft of my MP3 player, more sunburn, lots of Starbucks - oh yes, and the runs.
You may know that back in October we played a Hurricane Benefit concert in Shreveport, LA. USA and it was nice to see some familiar faces that had clearly traveled (with their bodies) some distance to attend. It seemed to be a full house and there was a nice atmosphere around the venue. Thanks to you if you made it. I’m sorry to report that so far I have not received any word of recognition of my donation from the organizations concerned, although I imagine a letter of thanks from the American Red Cross is winging its way to me as I write!
You may have also heard the very sad news about Mark Craney. I won’t reiterate here other than to say God bless you Mark.
So, hands up who’s done all their Christmas shopping? My family must have everything in the world ‘cuz they can’t seem to give me any ideas as to what they’d like under the tree. I told them that if they weren’t forthcoming pretty soon I would get them things that I want. That means Mum’s getting a 24 pack of Becks beer, Dad’s getting a set of decent cutlery and Christine, my sister is getting boxers’ and black socks. That’ll teach ‘em.
Regretfully, I won’t be seeing our friends in India next year – I know at least a couple of the other guys are busy with previously arranged commitments too. India is a beautiful destination and I’ve always had a lovely time there thanks to the people I’ve met. Not to mention all that sunshine and excellent food! Maybe next time….
Next February and March we’ll be touring the UK. I’m quite excited about touring in my home country, no airports, driving my own car, and even the odd night at home to sleep in a bed that I know the history of! Top Tip – next time you’re staying in a Hotel, whatever you do don’t look between the mattress and the headboard!
Ok I’m beginning to ramble, and that usually means it’s time for bed. Wishing all who celebrate it a very merry Christmas or whichever celebration you decide to mark, and if you don’t celebrate anything at the end of the year, bah humbug!
Stay well, warm and as healthy as your lifestyle allows.
Jethro Tull has produced a lot of songs over the years and the great majority of those came in the era of tape, the brown, non-sticky kind for those of you too young to remember. Such tapes are rather fragile, and many artists have lost precious recordings to the harshness of years. The tapes not only store the multitracks for the various released songs, but also tests, demos, and just assorted bits and pieces (and absolutely no recording of "Sailor" so don't ask).
The remastering process depends on these tapes. Ian spends a lot of time reviewing these before shipment to the famed Abbey Road Studio for production and preservation to digital form. Many tapes have to be "baked" which is a special process to remove oxide build-up. Such techniques can be very destructive. Very old blues recordings, for example, being remastered by Tull's USA label, Fuel 2000, are immediately destroyed by the very preservation technique. One slip up and no more Delta blues classic. Forever.
Older tapes tend to be worse but not always. The last years of tape in the early 1980's were particularly bad due to poor production quality. Ian tells how the tape was so horrid on "Black Sunday" (on "A" album) that it was unusable within a few days after recording. Remember "A Passion Play" ? Well, amazingly that tape required no preservation work at all in the remastering, a finding that even shocked Ian (and concerned him a bit too for if the production engineer was wrong...).
Which brings us to our "surprise." You might expect Jethro Tull tapes are locked behind five doors with fifty locks in a bar-no-expense environmentally controlled vault. Nope. The pictures here represent Ian's personal, master storage at his estate in west-central England. The room is an attic of a converted barn across from his recording studio (a "surprise" feature on that later).
There are no environmental controls. The web manager did ask Ian about this and given England's pleasant weather and general lack of humidity, the tapes are presumably fine. Ian also stores various old programs, tour goodies, and Gerald Bostock's outgrown school clothes here as well. Loads of fun opening unmarked boxes (which Ian and the web manager did last year scurrying up fun e-mail newsletter prizes like the concert balloons). Notice the picture of the famed, once thought lost, Chateau D'isaster Tapes (the "original" "A Passion Play" and featured on "Nightcap"). The tapes do not even appear very organized (sorry, Ian!) which might explain that lost story....
Oh, as far as security, it's two locks to get up there, even if you knew where to look after you found the estate. That's only after you get past the gate, two very large scary dogs, and Rupi. And who knows, maybe this whole story is a fabrication to obfuscate would be thieves?
Back in the early seventies, a small group of enterprising young ladies - some of America's finest - set about preserving for all time the prime examples of cock-rock. Immortalised in plaster, the members of many famous rock bands, pun intended, were cast for all the world to see, and in all their extended glory. But sadly, much of the evidence of these tools of the trade was to lie invisibly locked away for years, eventually being restored to the rightful owner, one Cynthia P. Caster, after legal action.
Our Cynth has now made available at her foundation website, a limited edition of some of these casts, including the super-whang of Mr. Jimi H. Not so much an object of mirth but more of girth, Jimi's gift to the angels of the universe is available now to all connoisseurs - the majority of the income going to a registered charity cause promoted by Cynthia for the welfare of struggling musicians and artists.
Soon to be in line for such spreading of wealth in my own humble direction, I heartily recommend your support of this fine enterprise.
Cynthia has also a fine collection of prints of pop and rock heroes from originals drawn by her own fair hand.
And, in case you were wondering: I was not one of the hearty heroes set in the white goo. And it's definitely too late now. I fear Cynth may, perforce, rely these days on cheap and plentiful Viagra with which to entice old rock warriors from their country estates and five star suites. Happily, my flute requires no such crude and chemical encouragement and, stiff as a rod, may be safely and satisfyingly plunged into warm plaster thus creating a phallic image of an altogether more modest and acceptable sort. Must remember to clean it afterwards........
A message from Cynthia Plastercaster
Gee, Ian, THANKS SO MUCH for the offer of a link on your website! That would be SO cool and helpful to my cause. I'd like to return the favor, if I may, when my computer geek buddy gets around to updating my website.
I was an art major at the University of Illinois--that is, until my mother found out about my groupie dream of casting thousands, via reading my diaries in secret. Then it was time to hit the road ASAP! I loved art school, but otherwise, can't say I've ever looked back...
Sorry to hear about your cold, doll. Colds certainly are a drag, but I love the tail end part when my nose gets all runny and my voice actually sounds sexy. Then it's time to record a new answering machine message!
You’re right, it has been a long time since I posted anything and frankly I haven’t got an excuse, let alone a good one, sorry.
So, for those of you that haven’t been visiting relatives on another planet, you’ll know that Ian is out and about taming various orchestras, accompanied by his merry men from the homeland. They’ve got quite a schedule and I’m sure you’ll give them all a warm welcome when they visit your town.
Meanwhile, back at our castle in the hills the rest of us Tull boys have been attending to all the stuff we forgot to do before we left for the last tour. In fact, I haven’t seen the others around the place muchlately, so Jon is probably in Italy, Martin is almost certainly in the great outdoors doing something energetic that makes him all sweaty, and Doane is most likely trying to stay out of the sun somewhere, PDA to hand, and sandals to feet.
For the first time in a good few years I saw summer in England, (yes, there is one) and it has been a mixture of leisure and work, not necessarily in that order.
Rather fantastically I managed a little holiday in the Balearic Islands with some other Giddings’s’s’s’s whereupon I rented a beautiful farmhouse to accommodate all of us. I’ve got some photos somewhere but I’ll spare you the images of ‘me on the beach, smoking’, ‘me at an Indian restaurant, smoking’ and ‘me at a bar, smoking’. There were far too many mes and way too much smoke there anyway.
Imagine though, the joy of arriving on holiday just in time to see the final two days of the International Aerobatics Championships! For those who don’t care about flying and who could care even less about me doing it, skip the next paragraph!
After relaxing in the sun it was time to get back up in the air. A whole bunch of us took eight planes to Le Touquet France, and Jersey in the Channel Islands, just for lunch! I recently acquired my Instrument Rating, in fact just last Saturday, so I’m very pleased with myself. A few daft pictures are available for your delight at the address below…..
Musically speaking I’ve also started something of a project at my newly refitted studio back in England, the details of which are at www.myspace.com/andrewgiddingsmusic I’m working very hard on it even if it means not sitting around in the heatwave we have enjoyed for the last few weeks, so I have to say it’s gonna be darn good!
Before I sign off then, a big thank you for the emails enquiring about Tull dates. You know I’ve always liked a full inbox, and in answer to many I have to advise that there isn’t much on the calendar as far as Tull is concerned for the remainder of this year. We thought long and hard as to whether to come and see you all again this summer but so far have been continually thwarted by inflated visa costs and regulations, high production costs, and now it seems that even getting inside an airport is being made difficult.
We’ll come and visit when it all settles down again, promise.
Over the years, there have been a fair few writers who have attempted to plumb the unfathomable depths of The Jolly Jethros’ secret lives: not that there is much to plumb. Maybe the odd grubby descent into Jogmania, Pussycatology, or overindulgence at the table of the Great God Hurry Curry.
The first one I remember was an Australian (bloke) who, at the time of A Passion Play, wrote some obscure but well-meaning treatise on me as the poet – a thoroughly wasted literary journey since I have a distinct dislike of poetry in general and have never modelled myself on its weird and fanciful practitioners. I believe it was entitled To Be The Play. Not many copies have survived, methinks, to grace the book cabinets and libraries of the disciples of Rock. He was a nice man, ‘though and travelled with the band in the great down-under for a few days in 1972, I think I remember.
In 1993, Karl Schramm and Gerrard J. Burns took upon themselves (with a little help from truly-yours) to fashion the then complete lyrics of Tull songs from the album covers’ lyric pages, the deciphered mutterings of the records themselves and the half-remembered words which each night I sing with gay abandon on the concert stage but can never recall the next morning if asked so to do.
Together with some anecdotal support from interviews with me, this book – hardbacked to the core – puts down for once and for all the wordy cravings and meanderings of youth, maturity and middle-to-late age. Must bring it up to date soon.
The first more analytical attempt of note was the more informed and down to earth biographical approach of one David Rees – a modest chap who, through the good offices of the Tull Fanzine A New Day had a wealth of gathered facts and interview snippets to draw upon. Combined with the input of his fully feathered friends in the Tull fan community, this material was honed into the book known, revered and worshipped as the first real compilation of facts and a little forgivable fiction, as Minstrels In The Gallery. With photographic additions from Martin Webb – himself an author of articles on rare records – Mark Colman and others, this book galvanised others to follow suit.
The Americans were not to be left out with a trilogy of efforts forthcoming in the last two or three years.
Barbara Espinoza wrote to me to ask for interviews and contacts for a proposed book. She managed the unthinkable: an interview with the reclusive hermit, Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond! Jeffrey offered up some thoughts on his life and work, which he wouldn’t ordinarily share with me – and I see him every few months for lunch or dinner. What a treat to see this in print. He probably made most of it up ‘though.
Barbara needs a little help on the proof-reading front – a lot of typos and grammatical no-no’s here, but still a good read. Published in 1999, her book is curiously named Driving In Diverse.
Greg Russo’s Flying Colours is a book with a different feel. A large and packed handbook/reference manual theme offers much researched and gathered detail. Without so much direct input from the band members, Greg has brought together astonishing bits and bobs to delight the Tull fan seeking after the tiniest pearl of information, useful only – perhaps – to the son of fruit-fly or the criminally and pathologically nerdomaniacal. Bags to ponder on here. Published in 2000.
Scott Allen Nolan, a writer on the subject of classic film, literature and music, produced the well-researched work Jethro Tull - A History Of The Band in 2001. With notable contributions from other band members, this book has a foreword by me – which must mean that I endorse the entire content in every last shard of detail. In fact, I cannot quite bring myself to read the whole thing – or any of these other books for that matter – since it is all a bit close to home and my memory occasionally disagrees with the recollections of other witnesses to the tale.
A new entrant to the Tull author hall of infamy is Raymond Benson – the official author of contemporary James Bond books. Raymond has now completed a small but perfectly formed (how would I know, since I haven’t seen it) little book of modest dimension and price to initiate the less demanding potential reader of Tull stuff and nonsense. In this, the Pocket Essential Jethro Tull, Raymond has had a little help from me by way of interview and encouragement, mostly on account of his continued sending of the latest Bond publication, completely free of charge. As the once-proud owner of a Walther P88 pistol – specially set aside for me by the makers – with the serial number 007, I have still a soft spot for the Bond saga. Sadly, said gun has been forcibly neutered under the draconian revisions to UK firearms laws and is relegated to the far reaches of my gun safe. It actually had a grungy single action trigger pull and the double action was even more of a pig. God give me back my Browning Hi-Power with the Barstow match barrel and the MMC target sights. Trigger pull a safe pound and three quarters and reliable with all known 9mm ammunition. Sadly neutered also.
The above authors have all reached out to long-standing Tull fans and neophytes alike with a huge investment in time, labour and commitment. Their love of the band comes shining through and I take my hat off to them all. Far too lazy to put pen to paper or digit to QWERTY, I leave this rarified atmosphere to their own circular breathing.
There have, of course been other Tull authors from other countries, published in their native tongues, and forgive me for not mentioning their names and efforts here. I guess you will find them, on the w.w. web, as indeed you will those detailed above.
Am***n.com will oblige and B****s and N**b*l can probably take your money too.
So, give the ears a rest. Pick up a book sometime and let their words do the talking. Here’s to all the Tull authors – bet they never do it again!
jackinthegreen: Cream without Eric??? Santana without Carlos?? and not even with a stand-in player.....you're easily pleased, I reckon most people would not be happy to say the least...
Apr 30, 2022 23:45:36 GMT
jackinthegreen: If it was Scott that got Covid would they have played the gigs without a drummer?
May 1, 2022 0:01:38 GMT
ash: It's Tull not Cream and my answer stands. Now it there was no flute player...No flute no Tull . I've seen Ian play with just an ipod backing track it was great
May 3, 2022 16:04:21 GMT
jackinthegreen: "No flute, no Tull".......hmmmm tell that to MB when he's doing all the Tull stuff..
May 3, 2022 20:18:27 GMT
jackinthegreen: and I've seen Ian doing his one man thing with just the backing track too, but that's not billed as a Jethro Tull concert.....
May 3, 2022 20:19:44 GMT
jackinthegreen: I do agree he's brilliant at playing to his own backing tracks though
May 3, 2022 20:20:48 GMT
ash: My first answer stands in stone
May 4, 2022 10:00:23 GMT
goodwolfman38: Just around the corner from what i understand will be the 40th anniversary edition of Broadsword & The Beast due in July, as i noticed a few weeks ago with an interview with Ian this one will be large box set, hopefully no delays
May 12, 2022 13:45:20 GMT
rredmond: Well the radio.net plug in at the bottom of the site shocked me a bit!
May 12, 2022 14:39:42 GMT
maddogfagin: Yes it's a great addition to the Forum and I'm hoping radio.net will provide this service for years to come
May 14, 2022 15:58:55 GMT
jackinthegreen: Where is the link to this radio.net.......I don't see it folks
May 15, 2022 1:11:08 GMT
maddogfagin: Immediately below this shout box and above the visitor numbers/flags.
May 15, 2022 8:39:21 GMT
jackinthegreen: Cheers MD, I can only see the link from the "Home" page, but disappears when looking at threads etc, so find if I open it up in a new window it then plays constantly
May 15, 2022 13:29:06 GMT
jackinthegreen: So I have it bookmarked to open at any time....nice in the background if reading on t'internet
May 15, 2022 13:31:36 GMT
jackinthegreen: Did anyone on the forum see Tull at the De Montfort Hall in Leicester in September.....
May 19, 2022 1:10:39 GMT
smint100: Good Lord, why did no one tell me about the radio.net! I've spent a joyful afternoon in the garden watching the strawberries ripen - I mean, editing a book - and listening to unadulterated Tull. Heaven!
May 21, 2022 14:56:50 GMT