The famous title track scared the shit of me as a kid, still alarms me, and was, of course, meant that way. The “aqualung,” I’ve finally decided, signifies the title wino’s capacity to live under the surface of, not water, but conventional society; he figuratively swims through shit every waking moment and fear for his safety every sleeping moment. Tull faithful (ironic construction, see below) call this the righteous-sounding reissue, and indeed the organ burbles as it comes, guitars ring clear, and Ian Anderson’s disingenuous, sometimes superior chuckling asides figure as up-front as they should. He’s a crank, sure, but could the Kinks have edged out “Cross-Eyed Mary”’s underdog-licking slattern for perverse English portraiture? Or piled on the self-fantasy with the reportage to assemble “Mother Goose”?
It’s the album, of course, where God goes down — and rightly so, for that God. But Anderson’s specific preaching against the composition, of that Almighty, too often goes by the boards. It’s actually all there in “My God” (planned irony, that time, dissolving Anglican Communion using the personal possessive with the A.C.’s own song forms). We’re genuflecting in all the wrong places, but we can be truly saved through considered, communing animism. Don’t look up. Don’t point up. Look everywhere. Your neighbor is, thyself, so you already love your neighbor, and “You poor old sod,” it’s the divine in “you see” saluting the divine everywhere else, even if “it’s only,” for one replayable moment, for one specific linear lyric in linear time — “me.”
- Album: Aqualung: 40th Anniversary
- Artist: Jethro Tull
- Label: Chrysalis/EMI
- Songs: Disc 1: (1) Aqualung (2) Cross-Eyed Mary (3) Cheap Day Return (4) Mother Goose (5) Won'dring Aloud (6) Up To Me (7) My God (8) Hymn 43 (9) Slipstream (10) Locomotive Breath (11) Wind-Up. — Disc 2: (1) Lick Your Fingers Clean (2) Just Trying To Be (New Mix) (3) My God (Early Version) (4) Wond'ring Aloud (13th December 1970) (5) Wond'ring Aloud (13th December 1970) (6) Slipstream (Take 2) (7) Up The 'Pool (Early Version) (8) Wond'ring Aloud, Again (Full Morgan Version) (9) Life Is A Long Song (New Mix) (10) Up The 'Pool (New Mix) (11) Dr Bogenbroom (2011 - Remaster) (12) From Later (2011 Remaster) (13) Nursie (2011 Remaster) (14) U.S. Radio Spot