“Interestingly, our manager is convinced to this day that this is actually a song I wrote about him and that he is the teacher, which is complete bollocks. In fact, what I was singing about was more those creepy guru figures that would mislead innocent young minds like those of the Beatles. They would suck in people and use the power of persuasion to bend their will and lead them on a spiritual path to enlightenment. And a lot of the time, of course, it was just about getting your money and driving around in a big, white Rolls Royce, which struck me as worthy of writing a song about. I wasn’t singing necessarily about spiritual leaders of a particular ethnic persuasion or a particular religious view, but just the idea of the teacher, the guru.”Ian Anderson (1174)

Locomotive Breath

“It was my first song that was perhaps on a topic that would be a little more appropriate to today’s world. It was about the runaway train of population growth and capitalism, it was based on those sorts of unstoppable ideas. We’re on this crazy train, we can’t get off it. Where is it going? Bearing in mind, of course, when I was born in 1947, the population of planet earth was slightly less than a third of what it is today, so it should be a sobering thought that in one man’s lifetime, our planetary population has more than tripled. You’d think population growth would have brought prosperity, happiness, food and a reasonable spread of wealth, but quite the opposite has happened. And is happening even more to this day. Without putting it into too much literal detail, that was what lay behind that song.”Ian Anderson (1174)


“Well, the character Aqualung was based on a photograph that my first wife had taken. She was studying photography in some college in London and she went off on some student assignment to shoot photographs of homeless people living in south London under the railway arches. She came back with some pictures and one particular character caught my eyes. He was someone who had a defiance about him, maybe even a little bit of anger, but at the same time, he was uncomfortable, slightly fearful, particularly of being photographed by a young woman. I suppose in a way, it made him feel like an object of curiosity or a little ashamed. So with all of those thoughts in my head, I said, “Right, well, let’s write a song about this. You scribble down some ideas on a piece of paper, and I’ll come up with some music.” And so she wrote some words and we fashioned that into lyrics. Some of the lines were definitely not lines I would have written. Like, “Snot is running down his nose” was not one of mine, it was one of hers.”Ian Anderson (1174)

Thick As A Brick

“I suppose you can pick any little section of Thick as a Brick, but let’s maybe talk about the first three minutes, which open up with the words, “I really don’t mind if you sit this one out.” In other words, it’s opening up to rejection. I knew in writing a spoof prog-rock piece, maybe half the people would get the joke and half the people would just get pissed off. And I wasn’t very sure that, in America, it would be well received. It was taking something rather surreal and preposterous and then putting it before you and making you believe in the improbable, like an eight-year-old, precocious schoolboy has written these lyrics.”Ian Anderson (1174)

Skating Away (on the Thin Ice of the New Day)

“This was my first song talking about the issue of ecology and, in this specific case, climate change. Back in those days, scientists believed that we were heading towards a period of global cooling, that we could be heading towards a new ice age. And in fact, they realized that in fact, no, we’re heading toward a period of global warming. So my song became kind of redundant. But the idea was sound. And I still have a fondness for it today, because it is talking with optimism about facing the changing world and a changing climate to which we have to adapt, bravely and optimistically. And it feels very apt and appropriate for today.”Ian Anderson (1174)

Too Old to Rock ‘n’ Roll: Too Young to Die

“The title came to my mind on a very, very bad, turbulent flight in the USA. I hate flying anyway, but this was a really bad flight, and I was convinced we were all gonna drop out of the sky, and just the words came into my head, “I’m too old to rock and roll, but I’m too young to die.” And I wrote that down on a piece of paper and decided to make something of it. Rather than write a song about fear of flying, it seemed more fun to write a song about an old biker who refuses to change with the times and clings to his lifestyle, to his culture. And along with the clothing, the fashions, the music and the things that are part of it; in other words, he’s a bit of a luddite and doesn’t take well to change.”Ian Anderson (1174)

Songs From The Wood

“I wrote “Songs From the Wood” based on elements of folklore and fantasy tales and traditions of the British rural environment. Our PR guy, Jo Lustig, had given me a book about English folklore as a Christmas present, and I thumbed through it and found lots of little interesting ideas and characters and stories and things that I decided to evolve into a series of songs.”Ian Anderson (1174)

Farm On The Freeway

“Once again, it’s harking back to that sort of era of farm life. It’s more social realism. In this song, I’m talking about the time when American farming, in particular, was under a huge amount of pressure and threat due to the building of roads. The economy of everything was becoming much harder, not only for American farmers but farmers pretty much everywhere. To me, it seemed like a good opportunity to write about an interesting subject. It just had to be set in America, rather than Europe; it’s not “Farm on the Autobahn”.”Ian Anderson (1174)