Saturday, 17 December 2016

Up To Me

Young bands - where is your sense of humour?

Now it's true that once in a while I get to hear young bands and their music that is supposed to be on the verge of some eternal fucking breakthrough, and invariably I'm struck with this: utter and complete lack of self-irony. Quite simply, there is no humour and there is no warmth.

Which brings me to Ian Anderson. Who may have had his wild misses (don't get me started), but at the very least you could always rely on his lyrics. Here at home I have a book I'm very fond of. It's called Jethro Tull - Complete Lyrics, and besides giving you what it says in the title (for the record, Under Wraps sounds quite all right without the music) and besides a wonderful picture of Ian Anderson on the motorcycle, with a cigarette dangling from his bearded mouth, the book includes his thoughts on this or that Jethro Tull album as well as a few paragraphs on his throat problems and his love for... wait for it... The Ramones, and then God knows what else. 

However, one thought in particular has always stuck with me. Anderson often judges his music by two - some would say arbitrary - aspects: humour and warmth. Warmth and humour. Like Stand Up had it and Minstrel In The Gallery did not. Which might be a rather easy observation to make, particularly for the musician who wrote all the songs. But equally - that's a brilliant observation as it perfectly captures the quality of the music. Stand Up is a classic and Minstrel In The Gallery is not. And that's hardly a coincidence as Ian brings up this point time and time again.

Sense of humour may be the most overrated virtue (am I quoting The Oliver Twist Manifesto here?), but it's a sorry band that either doesn't have it or can't translate it into chords. And if you're a young band - that's no excuse really. What I mean to say is, this is pure musical genius, I think we can all agree on that:

And if I laughed a bit too fast.
Well it was up to me.