Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Delayed understanding.

It's taken me 40 years to fully realize the brilliance of Aqualung.

I have always thought that Jethro Tull's Aqualung was a fantastic piece of music, but as I was trying to explain lyrics to my son, I had an epiphany. I was telling him how it was story the of an old man who I believed was homeless and how people saw him is being scary and strange but actually that there was more to him than that. When I was young man listening to the song, I recall thinking that the song was about the duality in his personality and that he was both things, a gentle old man and dangerous antisocial wild man to be feared. That he was cruel to strangers because the world was cruel to him, but still had the capacity to connect when shown kindness. Not a bad analysis for a teenager. 

 It is amazing how powerful saying something out loud is because when I explained the song to my son it triggered whole new connections. I guess I had never really questioned my interpretation for all these years, but now I'm pretty sure the song is all about our perception of the homeless and how WE treat them. Whether we see The homeless automatically as dangerous, dirty, creatures to be feared... or as people in need of of help. this more nuanced meaning presented itself to me very clearly, and now its hard for me to hear it as anything other than a social commentary on us and how we treat people who find themselves in this bad situation any assumptions we make about them. The juxtaposition of the song going back and forth from the hard rock and the gentle acoustic treatments represents the two extremes, fear and repulsion, and empathy.

I have to say, has someone who was not always sure after secure financial future, and could easily imagine myself in that situation, this new revelation about the song and its meaning had quite an emotional impact on me. I hope that if given the chance to time travel I would keep my mouth shut and allow my younger self to enjoy his interpretation of the song. After all, there's only one or two people in the world, who really know what the intentions of those lyrics are, and to be honest, if they are anything like me, they may have forgotten by now. But that's the wonderful thing about music, it's means what It means to the person listening to it at the time. I have to try to remember that. So even those people who clearly have never listen to the lyrics of any song in their life, are still getting emotional connection from the music, Even if I feel like they are missing a beautiful treasure. Who knows? Maybe they will discover new meaning in that song 40 years later.