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Aqualung Album Song Lyrics Meanings Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson
What is the meaning of the song Cross Eyed Mary?
I looked up the lyrics and read the interpretations, and I found I had the wrong idea about this song. I did not think Mary was a hooker, but merely a Party Girl.
She’s the robin hood of High Gate
High Gate is supposed to be Mary’s expensive school, but because I did not have access to the internet or the lyrics in the late 80’s, so I could not read any interpretations of the song. I would not have thought of High Gate School. That would not mean anything to me and I could not understand it anyway.
Another song by Jethro Tull mentioning a place in England, “Jeffrey goes to Leicester Square” is also confusing. I know Leicester Square is in England, but the song is just about a man rejecting a woman, and there is nothing about Leicester Square in the song. The man singing the song could be Jeffrey who goes for a walk Leicester Square and makes a decision to break up with the woman he sings about in the song, and this song is his way of telling her he is breaking up. Or maybe she is just friend of his but he wants to end the friendship. This song I believe is the case of weird title thrown on to the unrelated song. When the song title does not appear in the lyrics, you can’t know the name of the song if you hear it on the radio. This is always a mistake. Led Zeppelin did this often. It just means the song will be less popular.
This just goes to show how Jethro Tull lyrics are not really timeless. If you are not familiar with the places in England you won’t understand Cross Eyed Mary. Even more misunderstanding occur because people posted that High Gate is the school that the jack knife barber drops her off at, but it was a boy only school, so she can’t attend High Gate.
One could debate this, saying they were always able to understand the concepts, but now people have the internet. Once you look it up online you know and don’t spend years thinking it means one thing each time you hear it and then find out, that what you thought was all wrong.
Considering the Rolling Stones song “Playing with Fire”. The song mentions places in England, but it is very clear what Mick Jagger is singing about in the song. Playing with Fire translates to something universal we can all relate to without knowing the ends and out of those places in England.
What makes a timeless lyrics for a classic rock song? Obviously the song must have a universal theme that any human can relate to such as love or jealousy. But, what about Aqualung, a song about a homeless guy? It ruins the song to a certain extend to always thing about a homeless old man each time you hear Aqualung . When he could have chosen more uplifting lyrics or more universal lyrics. I not a huge fan of the band Rush, but Rush lyrics are more uplifting or also consider Sting’s lyrics with the Police.
A song like Aqualung takes you up and down emotionally in the way Nietzsche described how music can make you soar to great heights. For Aqualung one wants lyrics that will make you feel like celebrating something, instead of fretting over something like the plight of the homeless. If the goal is to properly make a song about the homelessness something by Bob Marley would be more fitting as a social change anthem. The entire set of lyrics for Aqualung is a terrible mistake that cannot be undone. Once the lyrics settle into one’s brain they will become trapped there forever.
There is this quote on Wikipedia where Ian Anderson describes Cross-Eyed Mary as a fun song about a school girl prostitute who goes with older men because she wants to. I can’t see who could think of this as a fun song. Maybe in his dreams young school girls are like that? I wonder if he being truthful, maybe he doesn’t want to give the real explanation for the song? The word fun does not explain the song. It used to be more abstract to me before I decided to analyze it. First of all why not make the song about blue eyed Mary, why cross eyed? Is that just to make us think she is really is cross eyed or just that she has twisted values? There are so many unanswered questions, such the Jack Knifed barber who drops her off at school. Is a driver because she is rich or a low life? Is he her father?
Paul McCartney just throws down some kind of nonsense lyrics that he thinks up off the top of his head, because he is very stoned when he writes the lyrics. Being stoned those lyrics seems like a good idea at the time, but when you consider timelessness in lyrics, John Lennon wrote meaningful lyrics. As long as Paul was with John Lennon his songs had good lyrics such as in “Yesterday”, but upon breaking up with the Beatles he descended into infantile lyrics.
Ian Anderson’s lyrics are clearly better and more thought out, then Paul McCartney’s Wings period lyrics, but was he was thinking into the future would he want his best song Aqualung to be about a seedy subject for all eternality? Aqualung would have been more popular if it had different lyrics. The song is only popular in spite of the lyrical handicap, because it is such a great song and so well performed and sung with such conviction.
What statement does the song Aqualung make? Does it say homelessness is a bad thing? The narrator does not feel pity for Aqualung. “Don’t you start away uneasy.” Nor does he offer to help him. He is just singing about this homeless guy. Ian Anderson clearly thought about the lyrics and did not just throw down any old thing like Paul McCartney, but what was the point of Aqualung and Cross Eyed Mary? I wish Ian Anderson would give a better explanation so I could understand his thought process.
So, maybe the narrator is in fact Aqualung himself. The lyric “is you see it’s only me.”
I did not want to get into analyzing Aqualung, I just wanted to analyze cross eyed Mary. I don’t know why I am analyzing Aqualung, when it is so straight forward and Cross Eyed Mary has hidden meanings. I am hoping the reader has actually looked up what everyone else has posted about these songs. I won’t bother to state what has been already documented online.
On Wikipedia Ian Anderson mentions a photo of a homeless guy who we assume model for the Cover Art for the album. His ex wife took the photo. All of that is clear, but where is original photo? I would rather see that as the cover then the poorly drawn cover art. It is a matter of taste that I don’t like that cover art of the homeless guy. Ian Anderson had the photo of the homeless guy, and he was going to write song lyrics for his greatest song, and the photo inspired him to write the lyrics. Was there really a photo of the original homeless guy? If so would he not deserve some royalties from the song? He would become no longer homeless if he was still alive which he couldn’t be at this time. What if there was no photo, and it was just Ian Anderson wanted to do at the time. He wanted to pose as a old homeless guy for the album art, like the artist claimed.
If Ian Anderson would say, I was stoned when I wrote that, or I knew a girl named Mary who was like that and wanted to write the song about her, maybe I would be able to have more sympathy for these lyrics.
There are some artists who insist on making references to things that become dated over time, defiantly. They don’t want to be bound by the rule of universal concepts. Then later on the works ages and become more and more obscure. Consider A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess, this book is hard to read. Anthony Burgess makes up his own slang. Anyone can understand the movie version, but reading the book is a chore. Any reference to things and concepts that can change or worse yet, made up references in novels set in the future are mistakes.
Oddly enough on Wikipedia Anthony Burgess thought using made up slang would prevent the book from becoming dated. At least if one uses current slang it is possible for the devotee of the work to then study the slang from that period, but made up slang is like a time capsule time that dates the work to exactly when the it was written. If you hear someone using words from Clockwork Orange you immediate think of that novel or the movie if you have not read the novel.
But, it is an interesting concept open to debate. By adding locations in England to songs do the lyrics become dated more quickly? If the neighborhood changes it makes the song frozen in time. If low class neighborhood became high class or vice versa, the whole thing is dated. “West End Girls” by the Pet Shop Boys is an example. In Manhattan there is the upper and lower parts and one is supposed to be richer and another poorer, but that could change over time. West side, East side, uptown are all location based concepts. I am thinking of the song “Shattered” by the Rollingstones. Some places are mentioned in the song, but it does not date the song, since you can understand what the singer is taking about. He finds Manhattan to be unpleasant. But, when the entire meaning of the song is placed up one’s ability to know that High Gate is an expensive school or an expensive part of town and Mary is not poor, then the meaning of the song is lost without the ability to look up the song on the internet.
If Aqualung was a concept album, Ian Anderson claimed it was not supposed be. I have never listened to the whole Aqualung album. I only bought the greatest hits cd. I did not buy Aqualung as an LP. Maybe the ugly cover art put me off? I found a lot of classic rock records in the basement of my building in the 80’s that someone was throwing away. Aqualung was not among them, or I would have listened to the whole thing. I now have means to listen to the whole album if I wanted to, but now I have neither motivation nor time to listen to concept album. It is only if one has just a few records that one has time to mull over the LP to decide if it is a concept album. And only when you lived in the 60s, 70s and early 80’s. Once greatest hits began to come out, why would you spend money for just few songs on Aqualung when you are forced to accept on the LP other songs you won’t like?
The greatest hits will have most of the songs you like. The concept of the whole album and sitting there listening to it, while staring at the cover art and trying to think of what concept the album is trying to portray is as dated as cranking a car to start it.
There are problems with the whole idea of what could be concept album. I was not convinced by reading why people think it is a concept album. When I think upon other Jethro Tull many are troubled and unhappy lyrics. There is no straight forward love song to go with the beautiful flute which is what one would expect the flute would lead itself to. At least I can’t think of a love song, if there is a love song. What is wrong with a love song? Maybe they are over done and used too often, but a song in which one could enjoy the song without being troubled by the lyrics would be refreshing to hear from Jethro Tull. I think about my other favorite song by Jethro Tull Jeffrey goes to Leicester Square, and I notice the unhappy theme. Why not have the song be about the good looking woman who he loves instead of despises? If one wants unhappy lyrics then maybe one wants a dark metal type music to express unhappiness instead of a cheerful flute? Consider about the Fire Suite by Arthur Brown. The music is unhappy and the lyrics fits the music.
I checked Wikipedia for the album Aqualung and found a reference in a book called Jethro Tull: A History of the Band which is not on Kindle so I won’t bother to buy that and read it, however, I did see that Ian Anderson also is in favor of using the original photo and not the cover art on the album Aqualung. I was teenage girl in a record store looking at the covers of records to decide which one to buy. If I saw the Aqualung cover I would never buy that record due to the ugliness of the cover.
I saw also Country Life by Roxy Music with the two models on the cover, and I wondered what was inside that record, but I could not hear any samples, so I did not buy it. But, if you placed Country Life next to Aqualung and asked people if they knew nothing about the music inside which would you buy, I am sure no one would buy Aqualung. If they did pick Aqualung instead of Country Life it would be like a Rorschach test which would prove depravity.
Also on Wikipedia I noticed Robert Christgau a critic also has the same feeling I have about the lyrics of the songs on Aqualung. Now let us consider Locomotive Breath, this songs seems to relate to the Aqualung song. Maybe the man in Locomotive Breath is a younger Aqualung before he fell into drinking and homelessness, due to the circumstances that are against him in Locomotive Breath? Cross Eyed Mary ties in with Aqualung as he is mentioned in the song. Mary is even younger then Locomotive Breath. Mary is too young to realize she is going down the same road that will lead to become like Aqualung one day. Consider the life of Marianne Faithfull who was young and beautiful like Mary. Look for current photos of her posted online. So, you can see why it seems like Aqualung is a concept album, whether or not that was the intention.
So, if you take those three songs together you come up with a meaning for the songs. They are a cautionary tale. This is as good of an explanation as any of them.
I would like to add I did see Jethro Tull in concert in the late 80’s and Ian Anderson was wonderful. Clearly he cared about his music and Cross Eyed Mary was first song of the night. I would have wanted it to be a later song, because it was a mistake to play his second song first, leaving Aqualung for the last song. Ian Anderson wanted to give a good performance unlike other Rock acts who don’t care about at all and just want to do the show with as little effort and possible and it really does show like for example Robert Plant. Robert Plant may care now and but back then he did not care. This was tour to support the album with the Big Log on it. The worse concert I ever saw was Adam Ant and the best was Peter Gabriel, but Ian Anderson could be considered a very strong second best concert. So, I don’t think he has a black cynic personality and hates the whole world and wants to write unhappy lyrics for this reason. I think it was more of an attempt to exercise unhappy thoughts and feeling from his own mind by creating art.
The question to get the conversation started is how do the lyrics make you feel when you listen to Jethro Tull? Are they too cynical for the music? Do you feel depressed if you listen to Jethro Tull repeately as I used to do before the digital music revolution?
The definition of Tinkerty-tonk from the book Right Ho, Jeeves by P G Wodehouse is so frequently misquoted as Tinkerty-tock that search engines correct your spelling when you try to look up. They give you Tinkerty-tonk instead showing you Tinkerty-tock. I think it means the same as bye and “time is a wasting”, put together it is a rude way to say goodbye something like “got a go”. Tickety Tock is more clock like, but the chartacter of Bertie Wooster is meant to be annoyingly ignorant, so the reader can himself correct Bertie’s slang which is supposed to be assuming. What is most assuming in the series of telegrams send from Aunt Dahlia to Bertie is the viciousness of the language combined with love at the end of the telegram.
I looked up complaints and reviews of carbonite I found a page, where people posted the problems with carbonite, I typed up a response that would not take. So, feel like posting in a blog. Most of the people who have problems with carbonite set up the back up and forgot it. Not me, I was hands on. When I did crash, it saved all the files but all of it was out of place and a big mess. You cannot delete empty folders, you have to write to them to ask to do it for you. I sent them about 10 emails asking and it never got done. I learned with any back service you need to be hands on and look at your back up to see that the things are all there. If you forgot about the files, then could be deleted in 30 days, but the folders will stay forever. It takes too long to sort out the mess of unwanted folders when you crash. You have to delete all of your back up to get rid of empty folders which you can’t do yourself, and at this time if you crash you can lose data. So, I ended buying another back service, even though I had another year left on carbonite. But I never did lose a file with them. My grievance is I can’t be in control of my backup with carbonite. They won’t delete my back up anymore, each time I email or call, they ask for more identity verification, all of which I provided. I really will be mad if they try to auto renew me. I may have to change my credit card numbers. It is easy for people to trash carbonite to say they lost data, they hate the service. It would like the service if I could control my back up. It is too much work to have to get them to delete my files for me. Too much work over all. The quesiton is how hard should one have to work to use a backup service? Why not make an easy back up service where you can just set it and forget it? If the data is really important like “your novel” burn it to a dvd, and have a back up as well. Copy it to a thumb drive, do everything you can so you have multiple backups.
To the writers: I quit watching Days of our Lives because of the Nicole Baby Plot. It is never done, and then even after it should be done and over and (maybe you can move on to something else) the characters spend an hour discussing and rehashing Nicole. I just read the TiVo summary and deleted it. Today on Days: EJ discusses Nicole. I used to be your biggest fan from the 90’s and now I have totally giving up. I know now no matter what you do or who you bring back, you can’t bring back a good show or even a watchable show. But, I would be interested in buying the old episodes on DVD, but you should stop even trying to produce new episodes. For the last two years I have been waiting for Days to get better, but it just never will. I cancelled my TiVo pass. But, I will record any old episodes you may choose to show. I am not even trying get you improve any more. I know it is beyond you. I used to tell people to hand in there and keep watching, but now you have driving even your most loyal viewers away. I used to have the vague hope that things would stop being the way they were. Beyond the baby plot there is a lot more wrong with the show. The whole show is made up of meaningless conversations between characters. It would take too long to mention all the ways in which the show is failing. The other times I quit watching for a few years, I regretted later, so I kept hoping. I will miss it if you ever have anything good again, but how is even fasting forwarding past all the scenes with Nicole’s bloating crying face good for me? I do I deserve to suffer in hopes that someday something good will happen. No way. The way you ruined Days has a soap opera like quality of tragedy.
Bing vs. Google in a side-by-side search off. Which will you choose? http://binged.it/UuQcu1