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27 Sept 1975


"I want to justify the place on my passport where it says 'Occupation: musician'. I feel that I've not yet really justified that"

It's 1968 and Jethro Tull, four weirdos led by an even stranger geezer in an oversize army surplus coat, have just made the big time. Can they get any bigger?

By 1975 Jethro Tull believe that they have, and they will. Despite the notable success of the past, Anderson sees Tull reaching younger audiences.

Tull are preparing for yet another onslaught on American audiences with rehearsals in Europe's centre of bureaucracy, Brussels. Cold, windy and wet, the suburban atmosphere in the Belgian city does not seem the most endearing place for such a band to rehearse.

Anderson is to be found huddled in a corner of his hotel room writing songs. It's two in the afternoon and he's just got out of bed. He begs 15 minutes to pull himself together and have a few boiled eggs and toast. A typically English breakfast for a typically English person.

The room is an unholy mess. Clothes are splattered on the bed, music papers are lying in a heap, and the breakfast table is equally dishevelled.

Anderson is looking in much better shape than his surroundings. He's dressed in black (the same garb as worn on the back of the Minstrel In The Gallery sleeve). He's stringing a Martin acoustic guitar and complaining about sub-standard craftsmanship these days.

Anderson, for all the charisma that has surrounded him over the years, is as straight as an airport runway, the sort of person you like to have on your side.

Anderson is in the mood for talking. Interviews are so few and far between that he tends to regard them more as "get it off your chest time" than anything else. Everything but everything is aired. He's a person of immense depth and sensitivity, and seemingly would be more at home teaching A-level English in the local tech than sitting in a crummy hotel room writing rock songs. It's still the same old Anderson, though, with an abundant supply of Benson and Hedges ready for consumption.

It's hard to think of something that he hasn't discussed before. He doesn't like looking to the past, so what does the future hold for Jethro Tull and Ian Anderson? What was there left to do that hadn't been done already? Hadn't the band achieved its targets? Wouldn't more success simply be retreading old ground? Anderson took a few seconds to think about the implications of the questions.

"From a very personal point of view," he replied, "I want to continue to justify the place on my passport which says 'Occupation: musician'. I feel that I've not yet really justified that. I am not fully and wholly a musician. In some sort of deep, metaphysical way, I'm not yet that. I would like to be remembered as being a musician. I would like to be seen in history as a musician, circa mid-twentieth century. That would do me fine. I merely wish to continue that self-justification of the term 'musician'. It's what I do. It's my job. It's my living.

"A few times I feel that I'm nearly there but the only thing that ever concerns me is the next record or the next tour. I'm always excited about the future. I'm probably one of the few musicians you'll ever meet who isn't jaded about music. I get depressed but I don't get jaded. Since '69 I've never considered giving music up. I often consider doing it in a different way. I often consider going to the BBC and writing music for David Attenborough travel films when I get really pessimistic about my own stuff.

"I never want to leave playing music. I don't have something else lurking in my mind that I'd like to do, other than being a Formula One racing driver. But that's what I want to do when I grow up."

What hadn't Anderson done?

"I've not yet written the songs that I want to write. It comes down to songs. I'm a believer in absolute value with songs. I would like to write a really substantial love song. I would like to write a really substantial out of love song. And you should be asking me at this point what do I mean by 'substantial'?"

Okay, then.

"I mean truly evocative, and more than just descriptive, something that really paints a strong vivid picture. I want to write songs which portray the viciousness with which stuff from the German School of Painting grabs you. I want them to stand on their own and for me not afterwards to think: 'I wish I had done this and that.' It's not perfection. It can still have flaws in it but it still has to evoke finally the right thing.

"I'm more concerned with that now and I will be for the next few years rather than doing anything pyrotechnical. I'm not really into productions, big deals.

"It's very different from going backwards to Stand Up or Benefit or Aqualung because those were very uneconomical songs which I wrote rather badly. I wrote sparsely then. It took me a long time to say something. They had a lot of padding in the lyrics. A lot of it was just superfluous words and phrases used because they were convenient. They weren't really very good. There were some good things about them but I write much better now.

"The only thing that is difficult to continue to do is to have the same sort of raw and unrefined energy. As you develop more as a musician, it's harder to find the unrefined energy. It's easy to find that when you start to play an instrument with a brash excitement. That's the very lifeblood of all pop music — the amateurish, unrefined quality and it becomes more difficult to find as you go along.

"Nevertheless, I still believe that is still possible. I find it really possible when I'm just doing an acoustic number to have that raw thing. It's harder for a whole group to do it. To wit — and I don't wish to be cruel and I'm not putting them down — I sympathise with the Rolling Stones' problem of coming up with new music all the time because it's harder and harder for them to find this sort of raw Rolling Stones style as they get older. They are getting older. I'm getting older. I'm 28 now, and Jagger must be 31 or 32."

Anderson made a prediction which should be remarked in the minds of all Tull fans for the next year.

"I will give you, glibly, a prediction straight off. I would suggest that Jethro Tull, in the latter half of '76, will become a much more hugely popular group. I think that, by the time the next album comes out [Too Old to Rock 'n' Roll] it will contain probably a number of songs which actually reach a lot of younger kids again.

"At the moment I am feeling very youthful and very energetic about pulling little birds and getting into fights. I'm very much into that.

"I'm very energetic, much more than I was a year ago, when I did a bit more sitting down and remained very calm about things. I'm a bit more up now. I don't know why.

"I don't really want to appeal to that younger audience but I think it'll happen. Just going by the songs I've been writing for the next album and the way it's going. People are actually going to think the next album really is good. People will think the next album will be really neat. The reason is that the songs, so far, will hit them long between the eyes.

"I'm getting better at doing that, although I don't do it all the time. It's not a style but I will employ it because I'm feeling a bit more like that than I have done for a year or so.

"The last time I was feeling super-energetic was around Passion Play time but then it took the form of a tremendous group thing. That's what happened. This time it's not like that. It's confined to the songs and the chords and the words and the group thing will be very carefully handled to assist that.

"I'm not going to let the group submerge it, the way it happened on Passion Play. The group will not submerge the essence of the songs, which are really simple. You will understand the words but you will also say, "actually, that's quite neat."

"I think it will be a good year. It'll probably appear to be the sort of music that is going to appeal more to fans that we don't have yet. It'll pick us up a lot more people who can identify with what I'm saying and what I'm doing and what I'm going to be like this time next year. I'm getting increasingly into very emotional things and I didn't used to be."

Anderson flicked his head back and laughed excitedly in anticipation of the things to come.

"It's difficult for me to figure out why. The songs will appear more directly emotional and will gain us the new fans. I think that the people who have been fans in the past will say that it's okay and say that we're back doing okay stuff again.

"It's not intent on my part to be successful. It's just the way I'm thinking at the moment. I can just see it happening. We've had a couple of years when either people have not been willing to get into the music or I haven't been writing music that has appealed to an awful lot of people, at least on this side of the Atlantic.

"I'm annoyed when someone says to me that I'm going back to previous ways of thinking. It has fuck all to do with going back. It's just that the next bunch of songs happen to sound like that. It's merely coincidental. People will say that Tull is safe again and will know that they will like the songs even before they've heard them.

"It's just the way I am. I can relate to myself, I can see myself going on Top Of The Pops or something and going on and being a bit naughty and the producer being on the verge of saying: 'Cut, cut, you can't do that. This is a family show.' I can see myself doing and getting into naughty things."

He giggled at the thought of going through the routine on the show.

"I can get into doing that again so I might just do it. I might just write a song to do 'Top Of The Pops' with. I actually think I would enjoy doing it at this point in time. Two years ago I didn't want to do anything. I didn't want to do a single or anything like that. I was into playing the music or doing shows. It was on a different sort of level.

"Maybe it's something that happens to you when you start getting near 30. Maybe it's as simple as that. Maybe it's something to do with thinking; "In two years I'll be 30 and if I don't go out and beat up a few queers now I never will."

"It's coincidental also or contemporaneous, if you'll forgive the word, with a rebellious trend against the showbiz glitter that I've been responsible for the last three or four years, along with Elton John and half a dozen others. We were all getting into that heavy showbiz thing. I am now getting out of it. I'm leaving all that stuff behind. I'm not into that showbiz thing any more ...

"I'm warming to this conversation as we go on. I can see myself taking whole new directions in the net couple of years, being like what I thought the Rolling Stones were about when I was 15, a real bunch of bastards. Obviously they're not the kind of blokes that beat you up in the street because they are only thin blokes, my height or a little bit smaller. Not heavy, but real little shits.

"No one is like that now. No one is into that level of identification any longer. Truck drivers just look at Elton John and think 'Funny clown, but I sing his songs from Newcastle down to London.' But they would like to have beaten up the Rolling Stones.

"People's reactions are dulled to anything that is overtly controversial nowadays and controversy only comes from character. It has nothing to do with wearing funny clothes or adopting postures and images. People see through that too much now, so much so that they are quite willing to accept the posturing because it's so transparent that it doesn't offend, whereas five or six years ago the posturing would've offended. It no longer does. Now it's just tinsel.

"There are a few people who are real meaningful characters. Frank Sinatra is a real meaningful character. When he opens his mouth to sing or speak, there's the weight of a tremendous character coming through there. But when somebody like David Bowie or Elton John speaks, it's inarticulate and blundering. My money's on Frank Sinatra to be around in ten years time."

He has already noticed he is getting a younger breed of fan at his gigs.

"One of the few ways I can retain a positive identification with the younger fans in the audience is to think that one of those kids, who is 15 and tanked up on some drug or other, doesn't like me. He's a punk kid and I'm 28 and, in some ways, a grown man, but he can still beat the shit out of me.

"I always think of those kids and the one way I can identify with them is to think that if he actually has a go at me in the street, I'll lay him out. That's the one thing that makes us equal. It makes me 15 as well.

"Jagger looks so young. I saw him at Madison Square Garden when we were playing. He came backstage. I didn't recognise him. He was five years older than me and he really looked so young. If being in a rock group does nothing else, it keeps you young. And if you're lucky, like Jagger, it keeps you young-looking. If you're not, like me, it keeps you young at heart. It's very weird. It's a Peter Pan thing."

Anderson is an incredibly aware person, particularly of what is happening in the music business and he's careful not to get left behind in an ever-changing situation. Because he sees the situation changing yet again with the economic situation, he is prepared to evolve, not only artistically, as he has already explained, but on the business side.

When new albums come out Tull have never been involved in a big promotional hype, but if they have to, they will.

He said he felt that things will have to get a whole lot worse in the economic crisis before they got better.

"You still have those names from five to ten years ago: the Stones and Zeppelin, the Who and Elton John. Those people still sell records. Competition as such, though, never seems to affect us. It would only affect us if we brought out an album at the same time as Led Zeppelin and the Stones. The Stones, actually, would probably come off worse. It's a terrible thing to say but their record reputation is possibly less than ours, although their live concert reputation is correspondingly greater. If you put three major groups on the road together, one of them would suffer.

"I can see it coming that, economically, the concert business is going to take a turn for the worse everywhere. It might happen to us. When the costs of our overheads continue to escalate, and inflation is rampant, our ticket prices do not reflect inflation and our increased running costs, so therefore our profit margin is reduced. If one pursues that trend, there clearly is a time when we can no longer make the same kind of money. We have to put up ticket prices. It makes people less likely to go because they have less money than they ever had."

Would it not be more likely that the punters would be more inclined not to see a lesser known group the week before and would save their money to see the bigger acts? As a result, the smaller groups, and not the names, would suffer?

"I don't think so because, for a long time, what it cost to go and see a gig, whether it's by Joe Bloggs at the Marquee or a cheap seat at the Albert Hall, one could equate it with the cost of a cheap meal. The most expensive tickets that we sell are the cost of an average-priced meal. I draw the line. I can't bring myself to charge anyone more money than they would spend for an equivalent time eating in a reasonable restaurant. That's about as far as it goes. As soon as it costs more to go and see entertainment than it costs to fill your belly, it's not worth it any more.

"Look at Frank Sinatra and the prices he was charging for his concerts, and he bombed out everywhere. People just will not pay that sort of money! The people who are willing to pay £30 and £40 for a meal are very few and far between."

While we are making gastronomical comparisons, would it not be fair to say that a band as big as Tull is expected to give a performance to the standard of a meal in, say, the Ritz, and therefore all diners should be prepared to pay a higher price?

"Our audience does not go to the Ritz," he answered. "And our music is not equivalent to the food in the Ritz. We give a good hamburger's worth. That's all. I'm being really honest. What I do on stage is a good hamburger number. What Mick Jagger does on stage is maybe worth two hamburgers. Let's be honest. What's more important? Seeing somebody cavort about on a stage singing a few songs he wrote in a bedroom somewhere or getting a good meal inside you? It's down to filling your belly's worth and no more.

"It's the same with albums. An album is not worth more than the cost of taking your bird out for a night to the cinema in London. It should cost about the same. I'm aware of it in those simple terms. That's probably how the guy in the street thinks about it. That's how he subconsciously equates it."

Tull are primarily entertainers but Anderson insisted that the band are nowhere near as calculating in their stage act as most people think. He pointed to the first gig on the next tour and said that it would bear no comparison to what the band had done in rehearsals. The beginning of every tour was like the first time they'd been on stage.

"I've always been dead set against that sort of ridiculous encore syndrome that most groups, who should have known better, finally submit to. You have a group like Procol Harum playing their own particular and peculiar home-grown music, their own niche in the music world, for an hour. Then they would go offstage and the audience would bring them back on.

"They are being brought back on the strength of the music they'd been playing for the last hour but they come back and play some third-hand rock and roll, simply because that's the easiest way to get the audience standing up, clapping their hands and breaking a few seats. That's a ridiculous situation. I've always firmly believed that the encore is part of the show. It's such a predictable thing. I'm not going to go back on and play rock and roll or somebody else's music for the encore. I'm going to play some more of what we do. It's just a part of the show to me, as it is for the audience, because they know that when you go offstage for the first time that you're going to come back again and play another half hour's worth.

"We do a half an hour encore because it seems a damn sight better than doing another five minutes and then going off and going through this ridiculous performance of being brought out again for another five minutes. There are groups who delight in doing four or five encores but that's bullshit."

A touch of anger came into Anderson's voice.

"It's bullshit because everything is calculated in terms of saying that they'll save this song for the third encore and then they find themselves on a night where the audience isn't so heavy that they've left the best numbers for the third encore and the audience didn't bring them back. Presumably then they go back and play it in the dressing room."

But wasn't Tull's encore as calculated as anybody else's?

"Yeah, but it's half an hour's worth. We come on and we say that we'll go through this absurd pantomime of the encore. We were going to play it anyway. The encore for us is the time we go offstage, freshen up, have a quick drink, half a ciggie and on again. It's more like an interval. After that half hour, that's about it. I want to finish it on a very brittle, anti-climactic note so that everyone is aware that this really is the end. We don't finish the encore trying to incite people to want more. We do it the other way.

"That's calculated if you like, but it's the opposite effect to going on to win applause and win success by playing rock and roll and saying "put your hands together" and all that rubbish. The audience can do that if they want, you don't have to tell them. I don't have to urge anybody to clap their hands. If they do it, then it's real. If they don't, then you haven't got into that rock-and-roll-Geno-Washington-let's-all-pretend-hard-enough-then-we-will-actually-have-a-good-time.

"The music has got to do it, not the tricks of showbiz, which is what a lot of people — us included but not as much as people think we do — employ. We're not really a showbiz group. I, at this point in time, am adamantly against this production sort of show."

It was okay, he said, to use smoke machines and other special effects on stage as long as it helped the music. The things that Tull had been doing with explosions and smoke machines were only being used by two or three groups at the beginning. They were an innovation. Effects had become such a standard thing now that they were no longer an innovation. Tull want to leave that behind now but what do they do next to introduce something new?

"We start playing Beach Boys' numbers," said Anderson.

"The stage thing has gone completely the opposite way to when we first started when everybody wore casual clothes. You've got people like Elton John, Mick Jagger and Ian Anderson going on stage in clothes that are totally unbelievable. We all go on dressed up like Liberace.

"We're all absolutely crazy. It's a dummy thing to do because nobody identifies with that clothing. Nobody wants a suit like Elton's because to get a suit like Elton's, you'd look just as bad as he looks in it. It's just showbiz glitter and it's funny. It fits his character up to a point but it doesn't have much to do with his music because most of his music is beautifully sung and very sensitive. The clothes are completely at odds with that.

"I'm pretty well as bad as that. My clothes are really a bit contrived. I'm fed up with being contrived. This new album, Minstrel In The Gallery, isn't contrived. Most of the things on it are first-take things. It wasn't a big production thing. It was all very immediate, positive and personal stuff. It was very different from the last three albums, which were far more rehearsed and far more musically controlled by the rest of the group as well as by me. They had a lot more to do with the previous albums.

"I took all of the criticism for Passion Play and Thick As A Brick before that. They were criticised for being overplayed. But those albums were by the rest of the guys in the group as well. We arranged it together but I took the stick."

Anderson elaborated on his point of being 'contrived'.

"The stage act is contrived but not as much as people would imagine. Almost everything we do stems from improvisation and if it works, it stays. If it doesn't, it doesn't appear the next night, but we don't choreograph or arrange. It's contrived inasmuch as you decide that you are going to open the show with a certain song and plan certain things, like talking to the audience.

"We're contrived because we wear special clothes on stage. I'm not fed up with it because I always look in the mirror and think that it's actually quite eye-catching and quite funny. It is a suitable costume to wear. The fact that it is a costume is less than satisfying but if I was to go onstage dressed in black, nobody would see me and it would be boring.

"I have to behave in such a way that people can derive some sort of entertainment from it but wearing clothes like mine is for a reason. Nonetheless, it is contrived and that aspect is unsatisfying. One has to do it. One has to go along with the rules to give most of the people the best possible deal most of the time.

"But it's not something that I relish doing. I do not enjoy having to dress up except that I have to. It doesn't displease me that much but there is always that feeling of putting on a picture postcard caricature. It's not 100 per cent real."

Did he think that too much of rock was contrived these days?

"I think it's all become very showbizzy again. Particularly in England, it's very much back to the two or three-hit wonder situation. We're back to the days of early rock and roll again."

Was that so bad?

"No, I don't think it's so bad, but I think it obviously makes for rather temporary values, which is not a good thing for kids who are growing up and learning something about music. It's rather nice to learn values that are proven. It's terrible to exist only on what happens to be in the top twenty this week or whatever is the fabulous new group with the fabulous new image.

"The old men of rock, the Zeppelins and the Tulls and The Whos and the Stones, are all going on for 30 and some of them are more than 30. And yet we're still playing, we're still selling records. It's weird as hell."

Wasn't it a sad reflection on the business that no band had come up in recent years as big as Tull, Zeppelin, the Stones or The Who?

"That's probably right. There's Elton John and the Stones, who are biggest, then Zeppelin and us. One year we're bigger than them, and the next they're bigger than us. They weren't so hot a couple of years back but they are now. The Who, when they choose to tour or record, are right up there as well. But they're peculiar because of Tommy. It's strange but a lot of people don't know who The Who are, apart from Tommy.

"But there are lots of groups this year who are as big as we were five years ago who may continue to grow against all odds. Because it is against all odds.

"Can you imagine how difficult it is to be one of the Rolling Stones? They've been going for over ten years. Can you imagine how difficult it is to be Mick Jagger or Keith Richards and thinking: 'Christ, what are we going to do for the next album?' They can't do anything too radically different than they've done before. They've got to stay within the Stones' style and it's very, very hard to write songs that are as succinct, as oozing with immediacy, as the songs they wrote six or seven years ago. Obviously, it's a terrible struggle."

Don't Tull have the same problem?

"No, because, luckily, although we've fallen into various pits of bad criticism for various records we've done, we're always doing something different, and I think people accept that from us. The best thing there is in the world is the fact that when we bring out an album and somebody doesn't like it, it doesn't necessarily mean that they won't buy the next one. They realise by now that the next album will be something completely different and they might like it. To be a little bit unpredictable is nice.

"We don't have too much of a style. We're able to change and do different things and it seems more acceptable than it is, for example, from the Rolling Stones, because if they deviate from their style more than a little, it's just not the Stones any more.

"Elton John can do that as well, and he can play so many different sorts of musical styles and it still sounds like Elton John, but he's able to move musically. It's a bit more flexible than it is for the Stones. The Stones, and Zeppelin, have more of a problem because their style is very rigid. I think they must have a terrible dilemma every album time.

"I actually don't care. I don't go through dilemmas. I do not produce records for effect or to be successful. I really couldn't care less because, by the time the records come out, they cease to mean anything to me. It doesn't really worry me."

Note the constant use by Anderson of "I". It all contributes to the belief that Ian Anderson is Jethro Tull, that the others are little less than a good backing band to play his material. What was Anderson's relationship with the rest of the band: Martin Barre (guitar), John Evan (piano), Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond (bass) and Barriemore Barlow (drums)?

"It differs. Right now I tend to be locked away from them because I'm writing material for the next album. At the moment, we don't have much to say. They're probably talking about me behind my back, wondering what I'm writing. I also have to be aware of writing something that they really want to play. There's no point in me writing something that isn't going to interest them at all."

And the attitude to the Ian Anderson-Jethro Tull charge?

"Ian Anderson is part of Jethro Tull, and Jethro Tull are a big part of Ian Anderson. That's all I do basically. I don't do anything other than Jethro Tull. I think that maybe the other guys have their more pertinent interests outside of the group, whereas I don't.

"The only thing I do is this group, which makes me more involved than they are. I do more than play on the record or play on stage. I have a wider involvement, like producing and mixing. Nonetheless, when we do get on stage, it's five people up there and I expect them to work as hard as I do and I expect them to play better than I do."

Does the band not want to play a more active part?

"They always can, if they want to. When Martin writes something, as he does about once every three years, the chances are I'll use it, because the chances are I'll like it. He wrote something about a year ago which I liked. If he wrote more I'd probably use more and I'd incorporate it into the songs I was writing. He doesn't do that much but when he does it, I'm pleased to have it.

"Presumably, if he wanted to write more, he would. He has every encouragement to do more, as do John and Jeffrey. At one time or another, they have all made writing contributions. They're just not terribly prolific, let's just put it that way, whereas I am."

Didn't Anderson feel that because every Tull album had credits to him for producing, writing and a thousand other things, that people were encouraged to think of Ian Anderson as Jethro Tull?

"On Passion Play there was a track where the royalties were split up between everybody because we were all involved. It said on it "by Jeffrey Hammond-Hammond, John Evan and Ian Anderson." In that order. On Thick As A Brick there were some bits that John Evan wrote, which I don't remember he got credited for but he certainly got paid for.

"On Minstrel In The Gallery there was a bit on the title track where Martin did a three minute instrumental, which Martin wrote and he is credited for that on the album and gets paid for it as a percentage of the total royalties from the album."

Would Ian like to see the band play a more active part?

"Yes, if I thought what they did was good. I would hate to be in the position of me having to do half and somebody else having to do half because if I didn't like their stuff, I wouldn't be able to sing it. I think, in a lot of ways, it's different being a singer than being a musician. If you're a guitarist and you don't really like the tune, you can still play it. But, if you're a singer and you don't like it, it's very hard to sing it.

"I'm not really a singer in the sense that I can't sing other people's songs. I honestly can't do it. The first year that we played in '68, which was the last time we played anybody else's songs, we changed the songs around to suit me.

"I could never sit down and sing 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'. I would feel silly. I don't know what the hell the song's about. I'm just thinking about it now. I do not know what 'Lucy In The Sky' is about. Elton John clearly knows because he sings it with some conviction and with more than a little help from his friends.

"I'm less able than most people to sing other people's songs. I don't have that basic sympathy for them anyway, probably because I don't listen to them that much and probably because every time I sit down, I find myself playing the guitar with some little song of my own coming out. But I really have no idea whether what I write is a pile of garbage, whether it's okay, or whether it's as good as 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds'. All I know is that it takes me all my life to write what I'm writing.

"It's the thing I can do best. Other guys could sing my songs better. Elton John could probably sing my songs better than I can, but there are lots of other guys who couldn't. He's a very good singer and he obviously gets into what he sings. I don't like his clothes, but I think he's a good singer."

Anderson recalled that when Tull put Thick As A Brick out, Elton John raved about it and declared him a genius. He referred to John's conceptual effort with Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy and the consequent bad reviews it received, comparing it with the knocks Tull got when Passion Play came out. Or, to be more precise, the knocks Ian Anderson got.

"It's me most of the time," he moaned. "But, with the Stones, it isn't Jagger who gets the stick. It's all of them. With Elton John, it's Elton John, but he doesn't write his own lyrics. He gets all the stick, but then he gets all the money. I don't. I have to share it five ways and I get all the stick."

Did he ever have the inclination to record a solo album?

"I think all the others have but I haven't. I'm probably the only one who couldn't do a solo album because if I did, it would end up being made up of all the quiet Jethro Tull songs. Would I say it's by Ian Anderson or an album of Jethro Tull's quiet songs? It wouldn't really be a solo album because a lot of the things I do with the group are solo things, at least on the records.

"War Child and Passion Play were much more group efforts, but the new one, Minstrel In The Gallery, has a lot more to do with just me. So had Aqualung and Stand Up. I can remember the time around the Stand Up era when a Jethro Tull recording session meant me getting into a taxi with a mandolin and a guitar, going into the studio, and the others weren't even there. I've done it for a long time.

"Whenever I do an album I get very involved with it from start to finish. The attachment that I form with it is almost paranoid. Then there comes the day when the record is actually being shipped and, at that point, it'' an incredible relief because then I can disown the album. It has nothing to do with me any more and I leave it behind emphatically at that point. I cease to care."

Anderson is another rock star whose lyrics have been granted much attention. They are constantly being looked at by fans seeking inner meanings. Did he expect people to derive meanings from his lyrics?

"I don't expect anything," he said. "They can do what they like with the lyrics. If they mean something to me, then I'm not such a complicated person that it will be totally obscure to other people. A lot of people take the lyrics only at face value but the majority of people derive some degree of meaning from the songs I write.

"I know that my songs have better lyrics than some of the garbage that comes out and a lot of what comes out is garbage. Most of the top forty stuff is garbage. I've just set myself a private little project writing some pop songs, trying to think of some very simple words for a song that would be a hit. It wouldn't be complicated but it would still be better than a lot of crap."