By Sam Moore Here is the dilemma I face. I must write an article about Ian Anderson, a man who is as complex as his music, a man who is the face of Jethro Tull. I have interviewed him. But I feel that any words I choose will pale in comparison with the talent that he continues to display to his fans. Anderson will perform three shows in Texas in the coming weeks, as part of a world tour. Friday night, he performs at the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie. He will perform not only “Thick as a Brick,” his legendary concept album of the 1970s, but the new sequel – “Thick as a Brick, Part Two.” “So you ride yourselves over the fields and you make all your animal deals and your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.” That is how he left us. The original Brick related the epic poem of Gerald Bostock, a youth whose work had been disqualified from a talent competition. Of course, this all came from Anderson’s mind. In the past few years, Anderson began to think about what would have happened to the boy as he grew into manhood. That is the basis for the second Brick. It is meant to show that whatever we do in life, whatever decisions we make early on, can and ultimately do lead to a final conclusion. A simple sequel was not enough. Anderson basically came up with five different story lines – each showing Gerald in five different destinations, now at age 50. He started with a list of about 15 to 20, before finally working down the final five. Which was Anderson’s personal choice? None of the above. “I would have chosen the sixth option,” he said. “I think he would have been a politician.” But Anderson refused to make this part of the sequel because he did not want any family member or friend to think he was copying from real life. “The last thing I want to do is to create a character who they think is them. It would be a betrayal of the relationship. I do, however, base things on reality,” Anderson commented. Brick 2
was written in a way different from what Anderson has normally done. Usually, he focused solely on the music and story. “This time,” he said, “I thought in a theatrical way. I wanted it to be entertaining on stage, subtle but bubbling away. It was very carefully conceived.” Anderson was born the child of a Scottish father and English mother. While he has seen the territorial turf battles over the years, he still sees everyone as being one. While he does not like war, he sees that one benefit of war has been to help unite those countries which have stood together against a common enemy. As for his musical roots, Anderson looks to the Blues and folk influences he loved growing up. From that, he has developed a style unique to himself. He supposes it fits into the category of progressive rock. But he understands the reason that his style does not exactly copy anyone else’s. “I don’t really listen to anyone else,” he commented. “I get more enjoyment out of playing my own music than I would playing someone else’s.” This could be a very good time for a new concept album. In fact, Anderson sees now as a better option than ten years ago, for example. “The decades prior to now saw a development of different styles of music, including progressive rock,” he said. “The revival was actually more hard edge, more progressive metal. Now there is a rise in progressive rock, picking up on new forms, almost looking back to the people who did it in the first place.” As Anderson sees it, progressive rock is more popular in other parts of the world – particularly in Japan. He does not believe it has truly arrived in the United States yet. But he believes it will. Anderson has an interesting take on Texas, its music and fans. In fact, he
says there are three things about Texas that he thinks of: musical roots, spicy food, and Houston. In Anderson’s era, he looked to some of his peers from Texas, particular ZZ Top. He likes the fact that they have always been simple, gritty and authoritative. As for the spicy food, Anderson loves Indian cuisine. While the flavors are different, the peppers have the same effect. And his love of Houston stems from his involvement with space exploration. When the Russians sent a mission to commemorate the 50th anniversary of their first launch, one of their cosmonauts took one of Anderson’s flutes with her. And they performed a duet – she in space, he on Earth. Anderson said, “We have started to take space exploration for granted. But now it is more spiritual and cultural. It is not simply about ‘the right stuff.’” Whenever he comes to Texas, Anderson can always count on one thing. “The audiences always let you know exactly what they think of your music,” he said. “They remind me of how the audiences in England take no prisoners. They are like beer drinking buddies. We are actually remarkably similar. I could easily be mistaken for a 65-year-old Texan, pushing his cart behind the wife at the grocery!” As someone who has performed on stages around the world for more than half of his life, he is very serious about his craft. What is Anderson’s advice for someone starting out in music? It is actually remarkable simple: Be an amateur. “Don’t be afraid of being an amateur. We can’t all be lucky enough or cursed enough to be a professional. Do it because you love it – do it because it is fun.” Anderson said that for 160-180 days each year, he himself is an amateur. “I sit in my home and play for fun. No one is paying me to do it. And it is almost as much fun as being paid!” So at the beginning of the interview, I promised Anderson I would not keep him long. 30 minutes later, as I began to sort through my next series of questions, he informed me that he was already 15 minutes late for his next interview. So I said goodbye, wishing him well, and starting the countdown until his performance in Dallas. I have interviewed many stars and musicians over the years. But when it comes to pure genius blended with subtle humor and a sense of legacy, Ian Anderson stands alone. For more information on Ian Anderson and his tour, visit www.iananderson.com
Posted by: Sam Moore
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