Friday, 13 November 2009

Deep Abiding Loves: Part 1 - Jethro Tull

As with my late-onset comic book habit, I got into buying music fairly late in life. Whilst I didn't actively dislike 80s pop music, at the time I never really got into the whole teenage annoying your parents thing. Possibly because I was a very non-rebellious teenager, and I just couldn't get that enthused about it. At the time, I probably played more music than actively listened to it.

It wasn't until the summer holidays before my first year at university that I finally started delving into the wonderful world of music. And typically for me, it hadn't been in the singles charts since 1970. I accidentally listened to a program on Radio 1 in which Ian Anderson and Martin Barre of Jethro Tull were playing a live acoustic session, and I was completely enthralled. Finally, this was the music I had been looking for, but hadn't realised it.

I find it difficult to classify the band (often a good thing). Some of their music is distinctly hard rock combined with acoustic instruments (Aqualung); some is blatant prog-rock (Thick as a Brick); some is straight acoustic (Wond'ring Aloud). One notable quirk is the unusual use of the flute in both acoustic and rock pieces (Locomotive Breath). This all makes their music slightly odd. But this is nothing to how utterly insane the band looked during their classic (1970s) period (represented by all the last few links).

Whilst at University, I started to learn guitar after being inspired by Jethro Tull. In fact, my earliest mention on the internet is thanks to the band. Around '91, I was on a Jethro Tull fan mailing list in which we tried to decipher all these wonderful acoustic songs we loved. The sense of achievement was great, although I began to wear out my tapes after listening the same few seconds of song hundreds of times. Nothing remains of the mailing list apart from a retrospective newsgroup post which has been cannibalised by a lot of guitar tab aggregator site. To see this, try typing "Mark Bertenshaw" "Dun Ringil" into Google.

More recently, I have tried to learn a few more by using some of these guitar tab sites. But you have to be really careful, because a lot of the tabs are wrong, and this wrongness gets multiplied by the fact that the same tab gets reused with the same mistakes. The song I had recently tried was Life is a Long Song, possibly my all-time favourite song. However, it had cocked up the introduction. Thank God for the internet - I found a very nice clear version here.

After discovering Tull, I quickly got side-tracked by their connection to the folk/rock band Fairport Convention, and thus onto connected artists such as Sandy Denny and Richard Thompson. I became a fan of lot of 70s rock and prog bands, and a whole load of Hawkwind (although in retrospect, this may have been influenced by my Deep Abiding Love for the writings of Michael Moorcock). And for this I am very, very grateful.

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