Song of the Day: Jethro Tull – “Locomotive Breath”

Happy birthday wishes go out to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, who turns 70 today. This is one of the band’s enduring classics, featuring its memorable low-key, piano-driven opening that explodes into a pulverizing guitar riff about a minute and a half into the song. Anderson told in 2013 the out-of-control locomotive in the song is a metaphor for life on Earth, in particular overpopulation. “When I wrote it, I wasn’t deliberately setting out to write a piece of music on a particular subject,” Anderson said. “But it evolved during the writing process into being not terribly specific, but about the issues of overcrowding – the rather claustrophobic feel of a lot of people in a limited space. And the idea of the incessant unstoppable locomotive being metaphor for seemingly the unstoppable population expansion on planet Earth. When I look at it today, it does, for me, become very crystallized in being a song about unmanageable population expansion. It’s something that concerns me even more today than it did back when I wrote it, when the population of planet Earth was only about two thirds of what it is today.”

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