Music: Jethro Tull

Ian Anderson delivers a blistering flute solo.
Aqualung my friend, don't you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see, it's only me
"Aqualung", Aqualung

Progressive rock group formed in 1968 and mostly known for their 70s output, particularly their albums Aqualung and Thick As A Brick. Made up of lead singer/flutist Ian Anderson, guitarist Martin Barre (who joined in 1969), and one of rock's most frequently revolving line-ups.

The band is named after an 18th-century agriculturist, though Ian Anderson hates the name. During their early days, their manager would change the name of the band so that they could be booked at places they had flopped at; as Anderson put it, "Jethro Tull is the name we were using when we quit sucking."

Ian Anderson laid Jethro Tull to rest in 2014, but the spirit of Tull goes on with Anderson and his solo band, who continue to tour and make records.

The band's studio album discography is as follows:
  • This Was (1968)
  • Stand Up (1969)
  • Benefit (1970)
  • Aqualung (1971)
  • Thick as a Brick (1972)
  • A Passion Play (1973)
  • War Child (1974)
  • Minstrel in the Gallery (1975)
  • Too Old to Rock And Roll: Too Young to Die! (1976)
  • Songs from the Wood (1977)
  • Heavy Horses (1978)
  • Stormwatch (1979)
  • A (1980)
  • The Broadsword and the Beast (1982)
  • Under Wraps (1984)
  • Crest of a Knave (1987)
  • Rock Island (1989)
  • Catfish Rising (1991)
  • Roots to Branches (1995)
  • J-Tull Dot Com (1999)
  • The Jethro Tull Christmas Album (2003)

Ian Anderson's studio album discography is as follows:
  • Walk into Light (1983)
  • Divinities: Twelve Dances with God (1995)
  • The Secret Language of Birds (2000)
  • Rupi's Dance (2003)
  • Thick as a Brick 2 (2012)
  • Homo Erraticus (2014)

Martin Barre's studio album discography is as follows:
  • A Summer Band (1992)
  • A Trick of Memory (1994)
  • The Meeting (1996)
  • Stage Left (2003)
  • Away With Words (2013)
  • Order of Play (2014)


  • Added Alliterative Appeal: From A Passion Play: "Here's your ID ideal for identifying one and all."
  • Anti-Christmas Song: "A Christmas Song".
    • Also "Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow." Subverted with "Another Christmas Song."
  • Anti-Love Song: The album Minstrel in the Gallery is all over this, though you have to know what to listen for.
    • "Flying Colours" from The Broadsword and the Beast is this.
  • Awesome McCool Name: The main reason Ian would often introduce Martin Barre by his full name: Martin Lancelot Barre.
  • Bawdy Song: A number of songs here and there, particularly on Songs From The Wood, Heavy Horses, and Rock Island.
  • Be Yourself: Many of his songs discouraged conformism and uniformity, even between members of the counterculture. Ian wore long hair and flamboyant clothes, was identified with the countercuture, and held many liberal-ish or free-thinking ideals, but he hated hippies and drug culture. Many of Tull's songs (including, and especially Thick As A Brick) encouraged others to find their own way and think for themselves.
    • Nothing to Say is essentially Ian voicing annoyance over being asked for some kind of guidance now that he's a celebrity.
  • Blues Rock: Much of their earlier material is this.
  • Buffy Speak: Ian Anderson often refers to the accordion as the "squeezey thing."
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Imagine if, on one regeneration, The Doctor is once again exiled to Earth, but, rather than work for UNIT again, he decides to start a progressive folk-rock band. That's pretty much Ian Anderson in a nutshell.
  • Cluster S-Bomb: Ian screws up the opening to "Baker St. Muse" and says, "Shit, shit, shit. Take two," before starting again. Could also count as Getting Crap Past the Radar since the volume has to be pretty high to make it out.
  • Compliment Backfire: In an early interview, Ian Anderson once attempted to compliment Led Zeppelin (they toured together in 1969) by saying, "With my lyrics and their music we could have a potent combination." This pissed off Robert Plant since he wrote all of Zeppelin's lyrics.
  • Concept Album: Believe it or not, but A Passion Play is the only straight example, but there is also Thick as a Brick, which is an over the top parody created because the media kept calling Aqualung a concept album, despite Anderson's constant claims otherwise.
    • And, like Don Quixote, it ends up being better than most of the things he's parodying.
    • Unlike its predecessor, Thick as a Brick 2 is a straight example, as is Homo Erraticus
  • Darker and Edgier: A Passion Play is this in comparison to Thick as a Brick, both musically (due to the dominating presence of minor key variations) and thematically (dealing with a story of life and death and the afterlife).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ian onstage, and often during interviews. Blends this with a lot of Self-Deprecation, too.
  • Dented Iron: While on the Under Wraps tour, Ian Anderson suffered numerous throat problems, including multiple cases of laryngitis. He returned to recording and touring after a couple years off (his first break since the band began touring regularly), but his voice had lost its trademark fullness. Also, he now sings in a limited range in a higher key then on his older material. Since 2012, he has had singer and actor Ryan O'Donell to sing certain parts for him, resulting in an entertaining Vocal Tag Team.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In older shows, Ian would often stick his flute on his crotch while dancing around.
  • Drunken Song: Quite a few references to drinking.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Their first album, This Was, sounds like yet another Cream rip-off. This began to change with their second album, Stand Up, when original guitarist Mick Abrahams left, and Ian Anderson started to monopolize the band's song-writing duties.
    • A lot of it had to do with their manager at the time (as well was singer/guitarist Mick Abrahams) wanting the band to be purely blues-rock. The singles released after This Was, especially A Christmas Song, were the first glimpses of what the band would become.
  • Echoing Acoustics: Very well done by them, particularly in songs such as "Pibroch (Cap In Hand)", "No Lullaby", and "Dark Ages".
  • Epic Rocking: Thick As A Brick and (Depending on your interpretation) A Passion Play are each made up of one long song.
    • To a much lesser extent: "Baker Street Muse" at 16 minutes.
      • An even lesser extent, but a large portion of their songs fall in the 5-10 minute range. Some examples: "Aqualung" (6:34), "To Cry You a Song" (6:09), "Minstrel in the Gallery" (8:13), "Too Old to Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young to Die!" (5:44), "Budapest" (10:05)
  • Excited Show Title!: "Too Old to Rock 'N' Roll: Too Young to Die!" Both the album and the song.
  • Filk Song: "Dot Com" is about a relationship over the Internet. Particularly notable in that it was written in 1999, before that sort of thing became common.
    • Many of the songs on Under Wraps are heavily based around Spy Fiction.
    • "Enter the Uninvited" rattles off a bunch of pop culture references.
    • "Broadsword" is about a medieval village facing attack by Viking-like raiders.
    • Several of the "Songs From the Wood" have the Fair Folk or Druids as a theme as well as having a general medieval flavor.
    • "One Brown Mouse" is a tribute to the poetry of Robert Burns.
  • Four More Measures: The opening riff in Aqualung is played twice.
    • It plays three times to close the song.
    • The acoustic riff that opens "Thick as a Brick" plays at least a dozen times throughout the song.
  • Fox Hunting: In "Hunting Girl" (on the album ''Songs from the Wood"), the narrator encounters a fox-hunting aristocratic young lady whose horse had refused to jump a fence. The young lady turns out to some distinctly kinky tastes.
  • Genre Adultery: "Living in the Past" was their first hit that broke away from their blues sound and towards their prog-folk sound. Allegedly, Anderson wrote it in 5/4 because he didn't want it to be a breakout hit, but the masses ran with it anyway.
  • Green Aesop: "Wond'ring Again"; the Stormwatch album.
    • "The Browning of the Green" from Homo Erraticus.
  • Grief Song: "Pibroch (Cap In Hand)", among many others.
  • Heavy Meta: Minstrel In The Gallery, and a number of other songs.
  • Heavy Mithril: Along with Led Zeppelin, pretty much the Trope Maker.
  • I Am the Band: Ian Anderson is the only founding member still in the band. To a lesser extent, Martin Barre has been with the band since Stand Up.
    • Doane Perry's been around since the eighties.
  • Intercourse with You: An awful lot of songs.
  • Just for Pun: In response to the criticism the band received after winning the first Grammy for hard rock/heavy metal album, they put out an ad showing Ian's flute on a scale, stating that the flute is a "heavy, metal instrument."
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: All the animals (except possibly Hare) in "The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles."
  • Large Ham: Saying that Anderson is one is quite the understatement.
    • On stage, at least. Off stage he's rather quiet and reserved, though he does keep his sense of humor.
  • Listeners Are Geniuses
  • Lyrical Dissonance
  • Messy Hair: Ian, especially in the early days. Martin Barre's hair was even bushier back in the day.
  • Nepotism: A very minor example, but "Enter the Uninvited" ends by mentioning The Walking Dead and specifically mentions "Officer Rick." Rick Grimes is played by Andrew Lincoln, Ian Anderson's son-in-law.
    • James Duncan, Ian's son, often plays drums in his solo bands.
  • New Sound Album: Aqualung marked the full shift away from jazz-blues-rock to Progressive Rock. Songs From The Wood led Tull into a British progressive folk-rock sound, which they sustained for the next two albums. "A" brought synth sounds and '80's technology to their repertoire, while Crest Of A Knave led them into a prog-folk/hard-rock sound with more emphasis on electric guitar. Tull experimented with East Indian and Oriental influences by Roots To Branches.
  • Not Using the Z Word: See Concept Album.
  • Oop North: The band is from Blackpool, inspiring their song "Up The Pool".
  • Progressive Rock
  • Protest Song: From about a third to a half of their catalog.
    • The majority of their protests were against conformity and living up to others' expectations. Organized religion (a result of the attempts to raise Anderson Catholic) are another popular subject.
  • Scare Chord: In the "Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" section of A Passion Play. "But Owl had been sitting on the fence, scOWLing..."
  • Self-Deprecation: Despite the popularity of the song, Ian always refers to "Bourée" as a "dreadful piece of lounge jazz."
  • Something Blues: "Rainbow Blues".
  • The Something Song: "A Song For Jeffrey", "Christmas Song", "Another Christmas Song", and "Driving Song".
  • Sophisticated as Hell: God in "A Passion Play."
  • Springtime for Hitler: "Living in the Past"; see above under Genre Adultery (or below under Uncommon Time).
  • Scotland: Ian Anderson is Scottish.
  • Stalker with a Crush: "Watching Me Watching You". However, this is not a completely straight example, as the protagonist has no idea who the stalker is or what he wants.
  • Stealth Parody: "Thick As A Brick" is one of concept albums and the progressive rock genre.
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Guitarist Mick Abrahams sings "Move On Alone" from "This Was". Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond narrates (with a few sung lines towards the end) "The Hare Who Lost His Spectacles" portion of "A Passion Play" and also does a spoken comedy bit on "Sealion II" (available on the Nightcap outtakes album and the remastered Warchild.)
  • Studio Chatter: Egregrious on Aqualung, War Child and Minstrel In The Gallery.
  • Take a Third Option: In A Passion Play, the deceased Ronnie Pilgrim decides that neither Heaven or Hell are for him, and so opts to be reincarnated instead.
  • The End Is Nigh: Pretty much the theme of Stormwatch.
  • Title by Number: "17".
  • Title Only Chorus: "Skating Away on the Thin Ice of the New Day".
  • Uncommon Time: All over the place, which comes with the territory of them being a prog rock band. As mentioned above, they wrote "Living in the Past" in 5/4 to try to avert it being a Black Sheep Hit, but the masses took to it anyway.
  • Unkempt Beauty: A lyric from Fires at Midnight is the page quote.
  • Vocal Tag Team: As of 2012 Ian Anderson and Ryan O'Donnell are this.
  • Watch the World Die: "Dun Ringill", which is about...basically this. The entire album, Stormwatch, is one long "The End Is Nigh" sign, and this is where the narrator decides to just go and wait the end of the world out.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Especially on Thick As A Brick.
    • "Mother Goose" is pretty nonsensical, too.
    • Certain parts of A Passion Play also contain such lyrics.
      And your little sister's immaculate virginity wings away on the bony shoulders of a young horse named George, who stole surreptitiously into her geography revision!
      (The examining body examined her body)