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22 July 1970
He's not quite the Vincent Van Gogh of music, but Ian Anderson, leader of Jethro Tull, comes very close to bringing a pure, unadulterated madness into the rock music world. Several news clippings and reviews I've read make reference to his stage act as a 'kissin' cousin' to Fagin, the pick-pocket and thief in Dickens' 'Oliver'. Ian may very well resemble Fagin when he performs, but his actions at our interview caused me to view him more as a Walter Mitty sort of character — except Anderson actually executes his daydreams, his musical reveries.
Upon my introduction to Anderson, he hurriedly scrambled from his seat, and left me waiting with his trail of dust.
"Sorry, I've got to run, I'll be right back, I've got to go upstairs for a moment, be right back,"
he said. A few minutes later, just as fast as he fled, he hopped back into his seat and put me in a state of Ta-pock-etta, Ta-pock-etta.
"These two perfect chords," he rambled, "that I thought of before, and that I forgot, and that I just remembered when you sat down. I was afraid I would forget them if we had the interview first. I just had to put them down on the recorder. They were two really nice chords — simple but nice,"
he concluded, as he took temporary leave from his chordal-daydream to apologize.
For you people who may wonder if Ian Anderson could be as wild a man as he appears to be, let me say that I discovered two sides to his personality — one side, an on-stage Ian, the other, an off-stage person. Ian is an artist, a sensitive and creative freak, who relies on his inherent abilities to conceive music. Offstage, his identity is that of an artist who is searching for meaning in melodic lines, note-by-note. On-stage, his identity remains the same, but he becomes the artist effecting his well-planned creation. His performance is the display of his uninhibited art form.
Someone said the borderline between genius and madness is a thin one, and that is always true for the pure artist ...
A quote from the book 'Joy' by William Schultz:
"The concept of creativity is the most adequate one to express the notion of joy through the optimal development of personal function. Creativity implies not only the full use of one's capacities but also includes going beyond them into previously unexplored areas."
Would you like to comment on this?
"Well, it's very interesting. It's the sort of thing you have to read about three times to understand. It's not exactly a definition, it's an attitude. Well, to me, you know, creativity is the first part of making fullest use of what I know, what I feel and what I am capable of understanding. As far as music is concerned, it isn't very much. I don't go beyond that yet, you know; I don't read, I don't listen to other people's music a great deal, because I haven't got to the stage where I'm actually doing anything new. All I'm doing is sifting through a lot of ideas and feelings and vague memories of music that I've heard since I was very young.
"You know, it's a very subconscious thing. I just sift through that and put them together. I don't really know whether that's really creativity or whether it's just sort of poetry and an assembling, 18, well, 15-16 years' worth of having heard music and being aware of people, parents and friends and sadness and happiness, and having come to think that a lot of people can do what I do.
"I like to think that I compose little tunes and play them and people like them and that's all. That's as far as I want it to go. I mean, the whole thing about being an artist is something which petrifies me — having spent two years in an art college studying painting, before I fled. It really frightens me when people intellectualize pop music; what I mean by pop music, contemporary rock or whatever you want to call it. I think the most that anything I play anyway would be is simply a craft. Maybe in 10 or 20 years, I might even understand enough about what I do and the way I do it to make it a kind of naive art form. But that's a wild hope.
"Maybe I underestimate myself — that's certainly what I learned from being in a grammar school doing the usual subjects in the usual way, and from spending two years in art school with all this complete freedom to do what I want to. Although I shouldn't play with art — it's not something usually masturbated, it's something you've really got to ... it's a tremendous fulfillment and you can even understand what constitutes something which is art, as opposed to craft, as opposed to entertainment, the most common form of creativity on some levels. I think what we do is at least entertainment. Beyond that, it goes into being something of a craft because I spend a lot of time putting songs together."
Many thanks to Glenn Cornick for this article