My Favorite Albums – Thick as a Brick – Jethro Tull

Well! Make your will and testament. Won’t you join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president let Robin save the day.

I first heard this album, which was also the first song I had ever heard by the band Jethro Tull, in the Milton High School library, Alpharetta, Georgia. Head Librarian, Myrl Hansard, asked student Steve Butler to pick out some albums, from a list she had, that other students would enjoy. This is how Thick As A Brick, the 43-minute single-song album, made its way to 1973 Alpharetta.

This was Jethro Tull’s 5th studio album, released in March of 1972. The album was written by Ian Anderson (vocals, flute, guitar) and arranged by the entire band. Drummer, Clive Bunker was replaced for this album by Barrie “Barriemore” Barlow.

Personnel for this album was:

Ian Anderson – vocals, acoustic guitar, flute, violin, trumpet, saxophone, accordion
Martin Barre – electric guitar, lute, flute
John Evan – piano, organ, harpsichord
Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond – bass guitar, spoken word
Barriemore Barlow – drums, percussion, timpani
Additional personnel
Dee Palmer – orchestral arrangements
Terry Ellis – executive producer
Robin Black – engineer

It was immediately intriguing due to its cool newspaper cover that actually folded out into the full-fledged St. Cleve Chronicle & Lindell Advertiser. This was made up and written by Tull’s Ian Anderson and other bandmates in Monty Python style of strange and funny stories including all the lyrics presented as a poem, on page 7, by fictional Little Milton who Anderson gives writer credits.

The inside of the paper features a mock review by “Julian Stone-Mason BA”, a pseudonym of Anderson. where he says that it’s not perfect but he likes it ok. It is a 12″x 16″ spoof of a small-town English newspaper and the bottom half folds down. Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond and keyboardist John Evan also wrote articles. Ian Anderson noted that the newspaper work took longer than the music.

The album reached the top 5 in the UK charts and number one in Australia, Canada, and the United States, where it was certified Platinum. It was on Chrysalis records and recorded at Morgan Studios, London. It was released on LP, 8-Track, Cassette, Reel-to-Reel, and on CD in 1999. Released by Mobile Fidelity in 1985.

Only the initial section was pre-written, the rest came during the two-week recording sessions. The song is rock, pop, folk, and progressive with many parts that always circle back to the main melody that I still find as one of my favorite tunes.

This made me search out more Tull records from the past, and even to this day, and attend many concerts to see Ian Anderson’s genius creations of flute, guitar, and vocals.

The Lyrics for Thick as a Brick

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.
My words but a whisper – your deafness a SHOUT.
I may make you feel but I can’t make you think.
Your sperm’s in the gutter – your love’s in the sink.
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.
And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away in
the tidal destruction
the moral melee.
The elastic retreat rings the close of play as the last wave uncovers
the newfangled way.
But your new shoes are worn at the heels and
your suntan does rapidly peel and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
And the love that I feel is so far away:
I’m a bad dream that I just had today – and you
shake your head and
say it’s a shame.

Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth.
Draw the lace and black curtains and shut out the whole truth.
Spin me down the long ages: let them sing the song.

See there! A son is born – and we pronounce him fit to fight.
There are black-heads on his shoulders, and he pees himself in the night.
We’ll
make a man of him
put him to trade
teach him
to play Monopoly and
to sing in the rain.

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.

LATER.
I’ve come down from the upper class to mend your rotten ways.
My father was a man of power whom everyone obeyed.
So come on all you criminals!
I’ve got to put you straight just like I did with my old man
twenty years too late.
Your bread and water’s going cold.
Your hair is too short and neat.
I’ll judge you all and make damn sure that no one judges me.

You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone – you meet the stares.
You’re unaware that your doings aren’t done.
And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be.
But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
I see you shuffle in the courtroom with
your rings upon your fingers and
your downy little sidies and
your silver-buckle shoes.
Playing at the hard case, you follow the example of the comic-paper idol
who lets you bend the rules.

So!
Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t you rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super crooks
and show us all the way.
Well! Make your will and testament. Won’t you?
Join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.

You put your bet on number one and it comes up every time.
The other kids have all backed down and they put you first in line.
And so you finally ask yourself just how big you are
and take your place in a wiser world of bigger motor cars.
And you wonder who to call on.

So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you though?
They’re all resting down in Cornwall
writing up their memoirs for a paper-back edition
of the Boy Scout Manual.

LATER.
See there! A man born – and we pronounce him fit for peace.
There’s a load lifted from his shoulders with the discovery of his disease.
We’ll
take the child from him
put it to the test
teach it
to be a wise man
how to fool the rest.

QUOTE
We will be geared to the average rather than the exceptional
God is an overwhelming responsibility
we walked through the maternity ward and saw 218 babies wearing nylons
cats are on the upgrade
upgrade? Hipgrave. Oh, Mac.

LATER
In the clear white circles of morning wonder,
I take my place with the lord of the hills.
And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured (in neat little rows)
sporting canvas frills.
With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention,
while queueing for sarnies at the office canteen.
Saying — how’s your granny and
good old Ernie: he coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win.

The legends (worded in the ancient tribal hymn) lie cradled
in the seagull’s call.
And all the promises they made are ground beneath the sadist’s fall.
The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun,
and signal for the crack of dawn.
Light the sun.

Do you believe in the day? Do you?
Believe in the day! The Dawn Creation of the Kings has begun.
Soft Venus (lonely maiden) brings the ageless one.
Do you believe in the day?
The fading hero has returned to the night – and fully pregnant with the day,
wise men endorse the poet’s sight.
Do you believe in the day? Do you? Believe in the day!

Let me tell you the tales of your life of
your love and the cut of the knife
the tireless oppression
the wisdom instilled
the desire to kill or be killed.
Let me sing of the losers who lie in the street as the last bus goes by.
The pavements ar empty: the gutters run red – while the fool
toasts his god in the sky.

So come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
Let me help you pick up your dead as the sins of the father are fed
with
the blood of the fools and
the thoughts of the wise and
from the pan under your bed.
Let me make you a present of song as
the wise man breaks wind and is gone while
the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose and
the nursery rhyme winds along.

So! Come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
See! The summer lightning casts its bolts upon you
and the hour of judgement draweth near.
Would you be
the fool stood in his suit of armour or
the wiser man who rushes clear.
So! Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t your rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super-crooks and
show us all the way.
Well! Make your will and testament.
Won’t you? Join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.
So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?
They’re all resting down in Cornwall – writing up their memoirs
for a paper-back edition of the Boy Scout Manual.

OF COURSE
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.

Author: Doyle

I was born in Atlanta, moved to Alpharetta at 4, lived there for 53 years and moved to Decatur in 2016. I've worked at such places as Richway, North Fulton Medical Center, Management Science America (Computer Tech/Project Manager) and Stacy's Compounding Pharmacy (Pharmacy Tech).

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