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Thick As A Brick, Jethro Tull (1972)

Duro come un mattone.L’album monstre dei Jethro Tull è considerato a buon diritto come una delle colonne del rock progressive. E 40 anni dopo Anderson, il loro capo ha fatto anche un sequel.

Tutto in quell’album era innovativo e sorprendente. A cominciare dalla copertina dell’LP sulla quale era stampata l’edizione di un giornale locale, il St. Cleve Chronicle del  7 gennaio 1972 che riporta in prima pagina, a titoli di scatola, che la Società per la promozione e il sostegno letterario ha squalificato il vincitore del premio annuale Gerald (Little Milton) Bostock, di anni 8, a seguito delle “centinaia di proteste e di minacce ricevute dopo che il suo poema epico “Thick as a brick”, duro come un mattone, era stato letto a una trasmissione della BBC”. Il giornale ne pubblicava il testo nelle pagine interne. C’erano anche articoli sul lancio del nuovo album dei Jethro Tull, appunto Thick As A Brick, sul testo del giovane poeta, e sui loro successi nelle classifiche delle hits mondiali.

Il testo scritto da Jan Anderson, fondatore e leader carismatico del gruppo scozzese, entra perfettamente nell’onda della contestazione e della dissacrazione, della verità nuda e cruda di fronte ai valori trasmessi e imposti dalla società, oramai lontani dalla sensibilità dei tempi.  Eccone alcuni esempi nella traduzione di Aldo Tagliaferri: “così (vi) cavalcate per i campi e concludete i vostri affari animaleschi e i vostri saggi non sanno come ci si sente ad essere duri come un mattone. E le virtù fatte di castelli di sabbia sono tutte spazzate via /nella distruzione della marea”. Oppure ancora: “Fatemi tornare indietro negli anni e nei giorni della mia adolescenza. Tirate il sipario e lasciate fuori tutta la verità.  Riportatemi ad epoche antiche: che siano loro a cantare la canzone. Guardate là! Un figlio è nato – e lo dichiariamo pronto per la battaglia”. Come meravigliarsi delle reazioni indignate dei telespettatori  e come non sorprendersi che la fantasiosa Society letteraria avesse dato un premio a simili versi.

Anche dal punti di vista musicale, l’album dei Jethro Tull è innovativo. Intanto porta alle estreme conseguenze il format del concept album, cioè un LP interamente dedicato a un tema e realizzato di parti che insieme costituiscono variazioni di quel tema. L’opera, infatti, è in realtà costituita di un’unica lunga suite che si interrompe, ma senza soluzione di continuità, solo perché si deve girare il vinile sul piatto. I critici spiegano che l’album rappresenta il passaggio del gruppo al rock progressive, anzi che più progressive e sperimentale non si può.  E’ la ragione per cui la band che porta il nome di un agronomo scozzese vissuto a cavallo fra il 600 e il 700, pioniere della nuova agricoltura, fa parte del firmamento della storia della musica rock. Thick As A Brick venne a confermare il grande successo che fu tributato all’album precedente Aqualung, quello che ha in copertina un vagabondo inquietante che assomiglia  a Anderson, e che fece conoscere in tutto il mondo il sound basato sul flauto traverso, uno strumento fino ad allora mai usato nel rock (se si esclude qualche uscita di Gabriel con i Genesis). Uno strumento  capace di esprimere l’ambiguità fra dolcezza e rabbia, voglia di amare e di autenticità che è lo spirito del rock di quel tempo. Del resto è esattamente il messaggio che lancia.

Thick As A Brick 1978

Thick As A Brick, Milano 2012

Testo

Really don’t mind if you sit this one out.

My words but a whisper — your deafness a SHOUT.

I may make you feel but I can’t make you think.
Your sperm’s in the gutter — your love’s in the sink.
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.
And the sand-castle virtues are all swept away in
the tidal destruction
the moral melee.
The elastic retreat rings the close of play as the last wave uncovers
the newfangled way.
But your new shoes are worn at the heels and
your suntan does rapidly peel and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

And the love that I feel is so far away:
I’m a bad dream that I just had today — and you
shake your head and
say it’s a shame.

Spin me back down the years and the days of my youth.
Draw the lace and black curtains and shut out the whole truth.
Spin me down the long ages: let them sing the song.

See there!  A son is born — and we pronounce him fit to fight.
There are black-heads on his shoulders, and he pees himself in the night.
We’ll
make a man of him
put him to trade
teach him
to play Monopoly and
to sing in the rain.

The Poet and the painter casting shadows on the water —
as the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea.
The do-er and the thinker: no allowance for the other —
as the failing light illuminates the mercenary’s creed.
The home fire burning: the kettle almost boiling —
but the master of the house is far away.
The horses stamping — their warm breath clouding
in the sharp and frosty morning of the day.
And the poet lifts his pen while the soldier sheaths his sword.

And the youngest of the family is moving with authority.
Building castles by the sea, he dares the tardy tide to wash them all aside.

The cattle quietly grazing at the grass down by the river
where the swelling mountain water moves onward to the sea:
the builder of the castles renews the age-old purpose
and contemplates the milking girl whose offer is his need.
The young men of the household have
all gone into service and
are not to be expected for a year.
The innocent young master — thoughts moving ever faster —
has formed the plan to change the man he seems.
And the poet sheaths his pen while the soldier lifts his sword.

And the oldest of the family is moving with authority.
Coming from across the sea, he challenges the son who puts him to the run.

What do you do when
the old man’s gone — do you want to be him?  And
your real self sings the song.
Do you want to free him?
No one to help you get up steam —
and the whirlpool turns you `way off-beam.

LATER.
I’ve come down from the upper class to mend your rotten ways.
My father was a man-of-power whom everyone obeyed.
So come on all you criminals!
I’ve got to put you straight just like I did with my old man —
twenty years too late.
Your bread and water’s going cold.
Your hair is too short and neat.
I’ll judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me.

You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone — you meet the stares.
You’re unaware that your doings aren’t done.
And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be.
But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
I see you shuffle in the courtroom with
your rings upon your fingers and
your downy little sidies and
your silver-buckle shoes.
Playing at the hard case, you follow the example of the comic-paper idol
who lets you bend the rules.

So!
Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t you rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super crooks
and show us all the way.
Well!  Make your will and testament. Won’t you?
Join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.

You put your bet on number one and it comes up every time.
The other kids have all backed down and they put you first in line.
And so you finally ask yourself just how big you are —
and take your place in a wiser world of bigger motor cars.
And you wonder who to call on.Foto: http://sharethefiles.eu/viewtopic.php?f=317&t=10170

So!  Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you though?
They’re all resting down in Cornwall —
writing up their memoirs for a paper-back edition
of the Boy Scout Manual.

LATER.
See there!  A man born — and we pronounce him fit for peace.
There’s a load lifted from his shoulders with the discovery of his disease.
We’ll
take the child from him
put it to the test
teach it
to be a wise man
how to fool the rest.

QUOTE
We will be geared to the average rather than the exceptional
God is an overwhelming responsibility
we walked through the maternity ward and saw 218 babies wearing nylons
cats are on the upgrade
upgrade?  Hipgrave.  Oh, Mac.

LATER
In the clear white circles of morning wonder,
I take my place with the lord of the hills.
And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured (in neat little rows)
sporting canvas frills.
With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention,
while queueing for sarnies at the office canteen.
Saying — how’s your granny and
good old Ernie: he coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win.The legends (worded in the ancient tribal hymn) lie cradled
in the seagull’s call.
And all the promises they made are ground beneath the sadist’s fall.
The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun,
and signal for the crack of dawn.
Light the sun.

Do you believe in the day?  Do you?
Believe in the day!  The Dawn Creation of the Kings has begun.
Soft Venus (lonely maiden) brings the ageless one.
Do you believe in the day?
The fading hero has returned to the night — and fully pregnant with the day,
wise men endorse the poet’s sight.
Do you believe in the day?  Do you?  Believe in the day!

Let me tell you the tales of your life of
your love and the cut of the knife
the tireless oppression
the wisdom instilled
the desire to kill or be killed.
Let me sing of the losers who lie in the street as the last bus goes by.
The pavements ar empty: the gutters run red — while the fool
toasts his god in the sky.So come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
Let me help you pick up your dead as the sins of the father are fed
with
the blood of the fools and
the thoughts of the wise and
from the pan under your bed.
Let me make you a present of song as
the wise man breaks wind and is gone while
the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose and
the nursery rhyme winds along.So!  Come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
See!  The summer lightning casts its bolts upon you
and the hour of judgement draweth near.
Would you be
the fool stood in his suit of armour or
the wiser man who rushes clear.
So!  Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won’t your rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super-crooks and
show us all the way.
Well!  Make your will and testament.
Won’t you?  Join your local government.
We’ll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.
So!  Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?
They’re all resting down in Cornwall — writing up their memoirs
for a paper-back edition of the Boy Scout Manual.

OF COURSE
So you ride yourselves over the fields and
you make all your animal deals and
your wise men don’t know how it feels to be thick as a brick.f

Foto: http://sharethefiles.eu/viewtopic.php?f=317&t=10170

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