Thursday, February 07, 2013

The Do’er and the Thinker… Thick as a Brick

This post first appeared on Swara Sutra, a music group on Facebook, for a theme about water and related terms in songs.

thick as a brick

The Poet and the painter casting shadows on the water
as the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea.
The do-er and the thinker: no allowance for the other
as the failing light illuminates the mercenary's creed.

The home fire burning- the kettle almost boiling
but the master of the house is far away.
The horses stamping their warm breath clouding
in the sharp and frosty morning of the day.
And the poet lifts his pen while the soldier sheaths his sword.

And the youngest of the family is moving with authority.
Building castles by the sea,
he dares the tardy tide to wash them all aside.

The cattle quietly grazing at the grass down by the river
where the swelling mountain water moves onward to the sea:
the builder of the castles renews the age-old purpose
and contemplates the milking girl whose offer is his need.
The young men of the household have
all gone into service and
are not to be expected for a year.
The innocent young master - thoughts moving ever faster
has formed the plan to change the man he seems.
And the poet sheaths his pen while the soldier lifts his sword.

And the oldest of the family is moving with authority.
Coming from across the sea,
he challenges the son who puts him to the run.

What do you do when
the old man's gone -- do you want to be him? And
your real self sings the song.
Do you want to free him?
No one to help you get up steam
and the whirlpool turns you `way off-beam.

If I were to tell you that these lines are taken from a really long epic poem written by an eight year old, would you believe it? Well, you don’t need to as it isn’t true. But when Jethro Tull’s epic album Thick as a Brick, the album cover was designed as a newspaper carrying a story of how an eight year old, dubbed “Little Milton”, won a poetry contest for this poem and the decision was reversed by the judges after a series of protests! “Judges Disqualify Little Milton in Last Minute Rumpus”, the “headlines” said.

What is unique about this album is the fact that the entire album is just one really long sung running close to 45 minutes. It has the unmistakable Jethro Tull stamp with a distinctive flute pieces spread across the entire album as the leitmotif.

So here it is, my favourite Jethro Tull album with references to “water’, “sea”, “river”, “mountain water”, "boiling kettle", "whirlpool" and such…

Thick as A Brick - Jethro Tull