I would have never disowned them totally even though by the time I was 15 or 16 I was listening to punk rock. One of the sillier things about punk rock was that you were just NOT supposed to appreciate the music that came before. For one, they had long hair, which of course really matters a lot in judging talent and songwriting ability. Another issue was that they could really PLAY. I mean punks weren’t supposed to be able to play (although, let’s face it, a lot of them could-The Clash’s Paul Simonon, Siouxsie and The Banshee’s Budgee spring readily to mind). It was all silly crap to market music to kids. Don’t listen to what those OLD 29 year olds listen to!
And then they sell you a new wardrobe, then everyone figures out it is bullshit and they come up with the next bullshit to sell to the next group of teenagers.
But anyway, that is also a bit after the fact. The sort of hard rock, meets prog, meets folk that Jethro Tull play is all over the place and distinct and hard to pigeonhole. It isn’t like the blues stealing Led Zeppelin or the fiscal machine that is the Rolling Stones. It is, kind of unique. Name ONE other rock band, and one that did rock pretty hard, who featured, consistently, the FLUTE.
The evening was mostly older material obviously, as the tour is, in part, a tribute to the 40th anniversary of the classic record Aqualung (an extended version with alternate takes, 11 of them, comes out in September). And Aqualung is truly a classic. Leave aside, for a second, the two most often played tracks, the title and Locomotive Breath, the rest of the record has such songs as Mother Goose, Wind Up (regrettably not played the other evening) and the profound—lyrically and musically, My God. The song was arguably the best of this evening and may be the best on this record. It is a lambasting of organized religion, without being totally dismissive of the basic concept of God (the same could be said of Wind Up). It is an angry young man’s castigation of old men in robes, oppressing as they burn incense and make moral pronouncements based on nothing. The other night it was an old man singing it.
Sometimes you forget how good some music is. There are a lot of reasons why this happens. One is just time, you forget the details. You may forget the songs and then, years later, you hear them again and something clicks. You remember how good they were, what they meant to you. A missing part of your life floods back into your conscious mind.
And there is something strange about this. I am certain the mostly older crowd may have been radicals in their day. Today they are probably Episcopalians who, were the show on the other side of the Atlantic, might shift uncomfortably in their seats at “and the bloody Church of England, in chains of history, request your earthly presence in the vicarage for tea” To say nothing of how the remaining non-lapsed Catholics would react.
The music comes alive again and brings back a part of your life. You get how it moved you again. You can, if you let yourself, get past the jadedness that settles on you as you get older. You can also free yourself from that bizarre adolescent self definition with a style of music that made it yours and helped you identify who you were. You shouldn’t as a grown up, need that nonsense anymore. You can like a band with old guys in it, even if it makes you feel old. You can still like the latest music too. Hell, you should, but it is ok to get excited when you hear; “Sitting on a park bench….”