View Full Version : Ian Robinson from Jethro Tull speaks out against America

11-13-2003, 06:21 PM
I used to be a Jethro Tull fan. Not anymore will I support the band or listen to them on the radio. This is an article I found from the Asbury Park Press on Thursday, November 13.

The interactive Ian Anderson

Published in the Asbury Park Press 11/09/03
Staff Writer

"Americans are in a dreadful pickle at the moment, being they're the villains of the planet as far as roughly half the population of the world is concerned. Half the world pretty much hates Americans."

7:30 p.m. Friday
Count Basie Theatre
99 Monmouth St., Red Bank
(732) 842-9000


Ian Anderson -- the Scottish-born, English-bred singer-songwriter who usually leads Jethro Tull, but is now in the midst of a thought-provoking solo tour -- insists he isn't America bashing. He's just telling it like it is.

Anderson will admit, though, to being less than a fan of President Bush -- or British Prime Minister Tony Blair, for that matter.

"Bush and Blair haven't got the faintest clue what a real war is," Anderson says. "As a couple of guys who have at their disposal considerable forces in the way of weapons of mass destruction, it seems somewhat cynical to be engaging in an act of invasion on foreign soil without the sanction of the international community and with guns blazing. Frankly, I hope both of them have an early demise."

Why is the flute-twirling rocker behind the '70s FM classics "Aqualung," "Locomotive Breath" and "Bungle in the Jungle" suddenly waxing political?

Actually, it isn't so sudden. Anderson has always been that most rare of rockers -- an articulate one -- as evidenced by his lyrics, interviews and song introductions. His "Rubbing Elbows With Ian Anderson" tour, coming to Red Bank on Friday, is the musician's chance to finally let it rip verbally.

In each city, Anderson will invite a local radio or TV personality and several audience members to join him onstage for an evening of conversation and music. There'll be Q&As, acoustic performances of Tull songs and, most interestingly, a local musician performing an original song backed by Anderson's band.

The format sounds either novel or nutty. Anderson says it can be a little of both.

"It is very much an improvised situation," he says. "It works around a format, but we don't know what the content is going to be. We try and find a local singer-songwriter who can get up on stage and is looking for a good backing group for the evening. We try to fulfill that need."

How did Anderson come to create the format?

Says the musician: "As a direct result of 35 years of doing radio station visits and the occasional TV thing, you do build up a catalog of experiences. I thought it would be interesting to take that visit as a guest in somebody else's domain, turn it around and bring the radio guys into my world. And to give the audience -- rather than the radio listener or TV viewer -- the opportunity to participate to some little extent in the show."

Anderson meets with the local radio or TV personalities on show days to go over the format.

"It's important that they're relaxed," he says. "The first two or three minutes of the show are rough, because they're a little anxious walking out in front of a live audience. Even though many of them have done this before, it's usually limited to, 'Hey, Cleveland, let's hear it for Jethro Tull!' You know, the rabble-rousing DJ moment that you get before a lot of rock concerts.

"But beyond that, to actually have to think and provide intelligent commentary and take questions from the audience is something they may not be used to."

A missed rehearsal
The musical guests present a different set of challenges.
"So far, it's all worked out apart from one person," Anderson recalls. "He was supposed to be there for 5 o'clock rehearsal to run through his song, which we'd carefully written out and learned. At the last minute, we were informed, 'You know, I can't get off work 'til 7 p.m.'

"At 7 p.m., the doors open and the audience walks in the theater! It's a little bit late. So that poor, unfortunate guest couldn't make it. Luckily, we had a stagehand, a girl who just happened to be a singer-songwriter. With about five minutes of quick rehearsal, she was shoehorned into the show. She was great.

"It's really rewarding to see these folks' faces light up when they finish their song. I mean, it's a mixture of relief, abject terror and sort of orgasmic release.

"It's been always a great little part of every show, giving our musical guest the opportunity to feel good for four minutes. And then," Anderson adds with a laugh, "back to their wretched, miserable, struggling-musician lives."

Anderson's co-host in Red Bank will be Terrie Carr, program director at WDHA in Cedar Knolls.

"It sounds like it's going to have almost like a 'Storytellers' vibe," Carr says (referring to the VH1 program of that title).

"Ian's such an intelligent, witty guy. I'm looking forward to the spontaneity of it."

The musical talent will be Jeff Gaynor, Dumont, who gigs in the Bergen County area.

"Over the moon doesn't begin to describe it," Gaynor says of his response to this opportunity. "Ian Anderson is one of my greatest musical heroes. Just to meet him would have been incredible, but to actually perform with him is beyond description."

The question of which topics emerge during the "Rubbing Elbows" chat segments is what sets Anderson off on a diatribe about the ongoing American-led war in Iraq.

"I like to sound the audience out a little bit," Anderson says. "I usually bring your president into the conversation at some point, and perhaps Tony Blair. I like to hear the audience divided, as they always are, over the pros and cons of Bush policy and the Iraq so-called war."

Anderson scoffs. "I mean, you know, to call it a war is to attempt to dignify a spurious invasion as something that sounds rather grand. As a career-molding war for you-know-who. I mean, to call it a war is just a disgrace.

"But that's not an area that I go into in any depth (during the shows). For a lot of people, that's dangerous talk, because they are keen supporters of flag-waving nationalism and, dare I say, retribution and revenge, which is what they see this as being. I find that utterly deplorable.

"I hate to see the American flag hanging out of every bloody station wagon, out of every SUV, every little Midwestern house in some residential area. It's easy to confuse patriotism with nationalism."

Overseas view
This, Anderson warns, is one reason America has become unpopular overseas.
"Unfortunately, the way the world sees it," Anderson says, "we don't look kindly on the flag-waving stuff anymore. In Europe, the only time you see flag-waving is at soccer games when people beat the (excrement) out of each other. A lot of flag-waving goes on there.

"But most of the time, we keep the flag-waving out of normal society these days, because we know that it just engenders old animosities -- we old Europeans who are a little sadder and wiser as a result of having the (excrement) beaten out of us a number of times, and our cities and national monuments destroyed. We're probably a little more sanguine about this than the very sensitive American psyche, which has not experienced or had to endure these offenses on its home turf."

Some Americans may disagree in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, though 56-year-old Anderson is referring to the bombing of England and other European countries during World War II.

'Good ambassadors'
"I sympathize with the American people," he says, "who I have the highest regard for as being warm, invitational and mostly pretty good ambassadors around the world. The fact that they, we, count them as being the bad guys -- flag-waving ain't gonna do it.
"We have to work over the next two or three generations, not the next two or three months or two or three years. We're talking about a multi-generational, skillfully worked job of re-education, of stepping out into the world gently and showing a kinder and a more human face. We have to correct the misunderstandings. We have to correct the prejudices. And we won't correct them by sending in the tanks and the guns and the bombs and the missiles.

"We are all going to have to learn that sad lesson -- that what was done in Iraq is the wrong thing. We had Saddam Hussein pretty much under control. The lesser of evils at the time was to play the game; send the weapons inspectors back in; do the stuff via the United Nations. To do what was done by Blair and Bush is, I think, a great sin for which I suspect both of them will pay in terms of career and reputation in the way that it is written up in history.

"But some folks, just like Sigfried and Roy, will do anything for the show-biz buzz. And the show-biz buzz of being out there doing the big, spectacular Las Vegas show with a bunch of poor animals -- you know, so Bush and Blair will do the same thing for the different buzz that comes with the power of political leadership.

"These are powerful forces that folks are playing with. To have that power is something you can't take lightly. You have to realize there are people out there whose lives you may affect by what you do."

Any thoughts on this? Comments?

11-17-2003, 04:07 AM
And while he loses a fan, he picks up another one.

11-21-2003, 03:25 PM
Originally posted by Great_One
Americans are in a dreadful pickle at the moment, being they're the villains of the planet as far as roughly half the population of the world is concerned. Half the world pretty much hates Americans.

If this statement here is actual truth, then I might add that the other half is not exactly in love with us at the moment either.