Aqualung (song)

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"Aqualung"
Song by Jethro Tull from the album Aqualung
Released 19 March 1971
Recorded December 1970 – February 1971 at Island Studios, London
Genre Progressive rock, hard rock, folk rock
Length 6:34
Label Island (UK)
Reprise (US)
Chrysalis/Capitol (US re-issue)
Writer Ian Anderson/Jennie Anderson
Producer Ian Anderson and Terry Ellis
Aqualung track listing
"Aqualung"
(1)
"Cross-Eyed Mary"
(2)

"Aqualung" is a song by the British progressive rock band Jethro Tull, and the title track from their Aqualung (1971) album. The song was written by the band's frontman, Ian Anderson, and his then-wife Jennie Franks.

Aqualung was Jethro Tull's first American Top 10 album, reaching #7 in June 1971.[1]

Lyrics[edit]

The lyrics give a description and backstory of Aqualung. He is described as a dirty, pedophilic, homeless man.

The lyrics include "deep sea diver sounds", referencing the actual aqualung device.

Recording[edit]

The original recording runs for 6:34. In an interview with singer Ian Anderson in the September 1999 Guitar World, he said:[2]

Aqualung wasn't a concept album, although a lot of people thought so. The idea came about from a photograph my wife at the time took of a tramp in London. I had feelings of guilt about the homeless, as well as fear and insecurity with people like that who seem a little scary. And I suppose all of that was combined with a slightly romanticized picture of the person who is homeless but yet a free spirit, who either won't or can't join in society's prescribed formats.

So from that photograph and those sentiments, I began writing the words to "Aqualung". I can remember sitting in a hotel room in L.A., working out the chord structure for the verses. It's quite a tortured tangle of chords, but it was meant to really drag you here and there and then set you down into the more gentle acoustic section of the song.

The Aqualung character is also mentioned in "Cross-Eyed Mary", the next song on the album.

An alternative mix of "Aqualung", with echo on Anderson's vocals and the opening guitar riff played twice instead of once, appears on the compilation M.U. – The Best of Jethro Tull (1976). This version also has different acoustic guitar and vocal parts during the second part of the song ("sun streaking cold"), but then reverts to the regular mix starting with "Aqualung my friend".

The track was not released as a single. As Ian Anderson explained during an interview with Songfacts:[3]

Because it was too long, it was too episodic, it starts off with a loud guitar riff and then goes into rather more laid back acoustic stuff. Led Zeppelin at the time, you know, they didn't release any singles. It was album tracks. And radio sharply divided between AM radio, which played the 3-minute pop hits, and FM radio, where they played what they called deep cuts. You would go into an album and play the obscure, the longer, the more convoluted songs in that period of more developmental rock music. But that day is not really with us anymore, whether it be classic rock stations that do play some of that music, but they are thin on the ground, and they too know that they've got to keep it short and sharp and cheerful, and provide the blue blanket of familiar sounding music and get onto the next set of commercial breaks, because that's what pays the radio station costs of being on the air. So pragmatic rules apply.

Recorded appearances[edit]

Personnel[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

Films and TV[edit]

Music[edit]

Video games[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rock Movers & Shakers by Dafydd Rees & Luke Crampton, 1991 Billboard Books.
  2. ^ Jethro Tull Press: Guitar World, September 1999
  3. ^ "Aqualung". Songfacts.com. Retrieved 22 June 2010. 
  4. ^ Trivia for The Sopranos Internet Movie Data Base
  5. ^ "Tough to Beat: The Bosses of God of War II". God of War II (SCE Santa Monica Studio). 2007. 
  6. ^ Aqualung (song)'s channel on YouTube

External links[edit]