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IAN ANDERSON Interview: Migration, Human Sustainability, the Bible and Jesus
April 20, 2014
By Ray Shasho
An In-Depth Interview with the Legendary Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull:
I interviewed Jethro Tull legend Ian Anderson on Tuesday, March 18th and our conversation transposed into something exceptional and quite monumental. Our in-depth discussion covered an array of atypical and riveting topics concerning… World issues, Politics, Human sustainability, The Bible, Religion, Jesus Christ, David Cameron, Barack Obama, Tony Snow, Our Vets, Ian’s family heritage, Commercial airline piloting , UFO’s … and then of course about the music… including the inception and concept behind his Gerald Bostock character & Anderson’s latest studio release ‘Homo Erraticus.’
Ian Anderson’s latest musical endeavor ‘HOMO ERRATICUS’ is an extraordinary and all-embracing musical arrangement that poetically and wittily interprets man’s pilgrimage with brilliant lyrical optimism. -I gave it (5) Stars! Pre-order your copy of Ian Anderson’s latest studio release [Here] or amazon.com … Released on Anderson’s own label imprint Calliandra Records in conjunction with Kscope. ‘Homo Erraticus’ will be officially released on April 14th but available now for pre-order.
Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson will be performing the new album ‘Homo Erraticus’ & The Best of Tull Live In Concert at a city near you throughout 2014. The Ian Anderson touring band is …Ian Anderson (flute, guitar, bouzouki, mandolin, harmonica and lead vocals), David Goodier (bass guitar and double bass), John O’Hara (orchestral conductor, piano, keyboards and accordion), Florian Opahle (guitar),Scott Hammond(Drums and Percussion), and Ryan O' Donnell (Vocals and stage antics).
This is my second interview with Ian Anderson; our first encounter was published onApril 3rd 2012. Mr. Anderson is not only a legendary singer, songwriter, musician, rock icon, and entrepreneur; he’s also an extraordinary and brilliant man. I can envision Anderson achieving and inspiring the world in so many other critical roles in his lifetime besides becoming a musical and creative genius … perhaps in such roles as …Novelist, College Professor, Pilot, Political Analyst, Economist or Theologian. The hands of time may only permit Mr. Anderson from accomplishing a few of these added goals that I have suggested, so I’ll devotedly conclude that I am eternally grateful for the JethroTull legacy and the evolving musical ingenuity of Ian Anderson.
Here’s my in-depth and very important interview with the Scottish gent we attest as Jethro Tull … IAN ANDERSON. Ray Shasho: Good evening Ian, thank you so much for being on the call today. Your latest studio release ‘Homo Erraticus’ will be officially released on April 14th but is available now for pre-order. Ian Anderson: [PURCHASING ‘HOMO ERRATICUS’] “Absolutely, you can order it in four different formats. There is the double vinyl records, there’s what we call the media book which has a CD and an accompanying DVD in a sort of hardback package, then there’s the simple CD in a plastic case which is the last one to be released in fact, and then there is also the special limited edition box set which has two CD’s, two DVD’s and a 64-page booklet that will grace your coffee table for years to come. So yes, four different formats and a lot of work in compiling all of that and getting all the video material and the 5.1 surround mixes and all the extra goodies in there including all the original demos that I made in a hotel room in Barbados last March. So there are all sorts of stuff there to intrigue the fan who wants to unpeel and examine the many layers of the onion.” Ray Shasho: Ian, do you also have your own record label? Ian Anderson: [CALLIANDRA RECORDS] “We have a label imprint which is a profit sharing enterprise with a rather specialist record company in the UK which employs about fifteen people. It’s kind of reminiscent to Chrysalis Records in the early days, and kind of a homely place where you can always talk to the top three or four guys who are always at the end of the phone …which is good. I was grateful to have the same offer from two other record companies, one was Warner Brothers which of course is one of the majors. But I just felt maybe it would get a little lost in something as enormous as Warner Brothers, especially a time when they’re trying to integrate the huge amounts of catalogue and manage an expanding business. So it’s probably not a good time to get their undivided attention.” Ray Shasho: I have heard from a lot of artists that say Warner Brothers is one of the best record companies to work with. Ian Anderson: “A lot of the reasons why I gave it serious attention are that Warner Brothers were our U.S. record company back in 1968-1969. When Chrysalis Records was boarded and too was just a label imprint and on a full service deal with Warner Brothers, so we kind of started off with Warner Brothers, actually the Reprise label which was a division of Warner’s, and that was our original American home until Chrysalis became independent two or three years later.” Ray Shasho: Why did you initially create the Gerald Bostock character and why did you bring him back? Ian Anderson: [GERALD BOSTOCK] “He’s like kind of an old friend, a Harry Potter who has grown into a grumpy middle-aged man who wants to pontificate on things. So he’s a useful writer’s tool and can be an alter-alter ego. He’s just another stage removed. He can say things that I wouldn’t say and voice opinions that I don’t have. So he can create lyrical material which I can occupy as a performer by singing in character. He doesn’t necessarily speak with my voice. He being a fictional character can have his own fictional opinions and views on life, some of which I’d probably share with him but some I don’t.” Ray Shasho: Ian, you bear an unyielding intelligence and you’re a master storytelling …traits essential in becoming a great novelist. Ian Anderson: [TOO OLD FOR BRITISH AIRWAYS BUT NOT TOO OLD TO ROCK & ROLL] “I have the intelligence to probably learn to fly a 747 Jumbo Jet but I’m now a year too old to be employed by British Airways. I would have had to retire last year, so I’m better off doing what I’m doing. But I do sometimes fantasize about testing my mental and physical skills by flying 250 people around the world and remembering to keep my transponder on.” Ray Shasho: Have you actually flown a jet before? Ian Anderson: [AIRLINE PILOT ANDERSON] “I’ve only flown a Boeing 737, at Heathrow Airport Terminal 5. We went out and did a climb out and did a big circling thing around Surrey, south of London, and I came back in and landed surprisingly not too badly. But we did a second landing which I have to say was just brilliant; I could almost hear the applause at the back of the airplane, and my very pregnant lady first officer sitting next to me, I was just concerned not to kill the baby. So when we did land the second time it was with a huge sense of relief. Then I disembarked the 737 British Airways simulator and caught a taxi home (All laughing). The simulators are just like the front of a real airplane, they are the real deal. They’re not sort of video games; they are bewildering in their complexity. I kind of understand kids who play video games because they’re quite realistic. In a computer graphic world they do begin to detach themselves perhaps from reality. It’s kind of a little worrying because sometimes the borderline between fantasy and reality is getting blurred in people’s lives too easily.” Ray Shasho: I’ve heard that those video game wizards may be the medical surgeons and military experts of tomorrow. Ian Anderson: [SUPPORTING OUR VETS & POLITICS] “What does seem to be the case are the kids that play the shoot ‘em up video games have actually become officers serving in the military, basically because they’re chicken- shits. They’d rather stay home in their bedrooms and fanaticize about blowing the heads off people instead of actually going out there and doing a real man’s job. I think if people try and do that for a living, they’d better go in and do it with a sense of duty and patriotism. I think young people in America or Britain when they join the military they think it through pretty carefully. Certainly the ones that I meet who’ve come out usually the hard way with tremendous injuries and victims of IED … the folks that I meet sometimes in America when I do meet & greets with the Vets and from recent excursions to Iraq and Afghanistan, the tales they have to tell me are certainly not video game shoot ‘em up tales. They have lived only to tell the tale of their own war injuries … frequently blindness and deafness through roadside bomb activity.”
“The thing that I do hear from them a lot is their belief in having gone there to try and do something to improve things for other people. They haven’t gone there to fight a war for America, they’ve gone there to try and create a better opportunity for people in Afghanistan or Iraq. Overwhelmingly I hear that the Iraqi’s were not worth fighting for. But the Afghans … a lot of Brits and Americans feel that it’s worth a try. It was worth just seeing that things could be made better and a real democracy could flourish in the face of the inevitable Taliban overturn when the Americans are out of there. It doesn’t look good but I think it was worth a try too. But Iraq I think we could have all done without. I personally would have paid Saddam Hussein to stay in power, keep the lid on things, and then shoot him … actually shoot his sons would have been the better bet because they were a couple of evil buggers, but they got it even before he did. I think Iraq was just a mess, a place where nothing good could possibly be done, to overcome the huge divisions within the country. The sectarian divisions will probably prevent it forever in becoming a united country. It’s a mess. But Afghanistan was really worth a try. I was with George Bush on that one, but not on Iraq.” Ray Shasho: I think Pakistan is another country that we should not support. Ian Anderson:[DAVID CAMERON, BARACK OBAMA, AND TONY SNOW] “We actually do collectively give them quite a lot of monetary aide, probably to keep them on their side (All laughing). I don’t think we’ll be going in there, I think Syria was the closer call in recent times, but luckily the decision was taken to not go in there, and it all happened on one particular day in the UK Parliament where a left-wing leader decided to stand- up to David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to not support the venture to take military action in Syria. That precipitated a cave-in, which Obama, much as he hated the idea, suddenly realized he didn’t have the Brits anymore and faced the same kind of repercussions in congress where he wasn’t going to get a vote of confidence to go into military action. I think the people and their representatives, the House of Representatives and the House of Commons in Britain, I think the people spoke and our leaders backed down from a confrontation that would have been a grave error in judgment. So luckily we managed to escape that particular issue. Obama and Cameron both fell into that trap of thinking … we could have our own little war here and be remembered for something great. It would have been a fatal mistake.”
“I came to the conclusion that Mr. Obama is not the man that we all hoped he was. I think we all rather liked his straightforward, nice guy, not too liberal but pragmatic democratic kind of stance. However he’s been a grave disappointment, not only to you guys but to the world. Because he wasn’t just your President … we thought he was going to be our President. Throughout the world people wanted Obama to be the man that would be for all of us. But we’re all feeling a bit let down. And my good friends at Fox TV are probably even more let down (All laughing) because they never much liked him anyway.”
"My old pal Tony Snow, who was a Fox guy, an ardent Republican and was Press Secretary for Bush Jr. prior to his colon cancer returning, his last job was to be taken up by CNN in the run-up to the last election. I was so sorry that Tony didn’t get to hang-on for at least a few months to cover that. He was a guy I would love to have seen giving another view on the emergence of that President. I do remember saying before Tony died that I hoped he’d make it long enough, because I’d love to see him be the Press Secretary in the Obama Administration. He was someone that the media loved; they thought of Tony as a straight guy. He would do his job in a partisan way if necessary… but he was a journalist, he was a writer, a broadcaster, and just one of the guys …they held a huge respect for him.” Ray Shasho: Let’s talk about your new release ‘Homo Erraticus’… I gave it (5) Stars! Ian Anderson: “Out of twenty? (All laughing)” Ray Shasho: Ian, I believe ‘Homo Erraticus’ is an extraordinary and all-embracing musical arrangement that poetically and wittily interprets man’s pilgrimage with brilliant lyrical optimism. Ian Anderson: [HOMO ERRATICUS CONCEPT AND HUMAN SUSTAINABILTY] “If it’s about anything it comes from the very opening lines on the very first song and I had that and then on the third day of writing the album I pieced out the whole rest of it as kind of a bullet point scenario and continued to write for the next three weeks. It’s the story of all of us. It’s about migration, the movement of people from the last ice age on to even the future. It’s about the story of all of us… we’re all from somewhere else. None us are really ancestrally born and bred, we all came ultimately and possibly from one single tribe sixty thousand years ago in Africa. I’m not going to go that far back because I’m really only concerned with the point where my own country first was permanently occupied by our ancestors who at the time were predominately Homo sapiens in the aftermath of the last Ice Age. It’s just a way of talking about the fact that we’re all from somewhere else and we ought to accept that migration is the story of our planet. It goes on today and we fearfully and sometimes in protective terms refer to it as immigration because we naturally and understandably have some suspicion and sometimes hostility towards those who want to come and join our party, who perhaps are not always invited or welcomed, and that’s the way some people think about it.”
“But I just want to remind everybody that we’re all from somewhere else. It’s a difficult moral, a human ethical problem to try to find the solutions for accepting people who may enrich your culture and society, and on occasion may cause difficulties which has to be worked through and overcome. We have to find our way to accept the idea of human migration. However, we are living in a different world now to fifty years ago. Certainly, Five thousand years ago when increasing the population was necessary for the good of human kind on the planet, right now the migration that we’re talking about in future years of climate change is going to be a very-very enormous moral dilemma for our great grandchildren. That generation is going to have to make some terribly difficult decisions about who can be accepted where. We don’t have the resources and there are parts of the planet that prove to be not really habitable, in the way they are in some cases barely now, and it will get a whole lot worse in the future inevitably. We’ve got to start thinking about, talking about, and discussing in a sensible, rational, and friendly way about these issues before they start impacting us in ways that can be very divisive and damaging to people everywhere. We have to start thinking about our resources that isn’t just about recycling or Green Energy, it has to do with sustainability long-term beyond the life of any politician or any government of today. We have to start thinking long-term and people are not very good at doing that. They’re not very good at thinking beyond their own fragile lifetime, maybe that of their children but that’s as far as it goes.”
“We have a very beautiful planet here, one that we should be looking to think of in terms of sustainability, and that means sustainable populations. We’ll probably have to think about over a period of a few hundred years, reducing the global population and not increasing it, because we’re certainly going to find it very difficult to feed the nine billion people on planet earth in forty or fifty years time. So everywhere where sensible and responsible thinking women have an average of 1.5 children, which is the average for most of Western Europe except for Britain and France where it’s close to 2, everywhere else is about 1.5. Women are educated; they have equality with men and the family unit. They choose to have modest family sizes, not because the government tells them they should, but because they make an educated responsible family choice. And I would venture to say that those who back it up with excuses of religion and culture and want to have 5, 6 or 7 children, they have to question if it’s socially responsible in the long term. The argument they present as well is God wants us to multiply … well then I think you picked the wrong God. Educated women that receive a basic or secondary education, they make those choices, the evidence is here already. We don’t actually have to change the culture of most of Europe, it already works that way. People have made those choices in the last twenty or thirty years increasingly to have modest family sizes. So I just want people to be talking about this stuff with a smile on your face and a friendly hug, and not to have it erupt in fisticuffs at a local bar. So my words and lyrics of this album was not designed to be lecturing, hostile, provocative or create violent arguments, they’re to get people thinking and talking and doing it in a friendly and smiley kind of a way, because that’s the way to get into people’s hearts and minds.” Ray Shasho: So many people turn to the Bible as if it were a set of plans or instructions to guide them throughout their lives. How factual do you believe the Bible really is? Ian Anderson: [THE BIBLE, RELIGION, AND JESUS CHRIST] “I think the Bible is a tremendous document and I now have a copy of it on my iPhone. I have a copy of the Quran as well. The point being, these existers have bona fide plans, they are “Plan A”, but your interpretation of the Bible and your interpretation of the Quran is a very complex issue. In years gone by people did not take this absurd evangelical literal view of the words in the Bible, it was all considered to be allegory, it was all considered to be lots of ways of creating the metaphors. A thousand years ago people looked at the Bible in a much less literal way. It served as a very useful function for people to stand by a set of general rules and applications. In many ways the words of the prophets, Muhammad, are not so different to many of the words of Jesus Christ and many of the sentiments, good, sound, and sensible structure or advice that you get from the Bible. It’s all good stuff!”
“However, it’s got to be seen in the light of today. Anyone who takes those words as literal meaning is missing the whole point. The hundreds of people who put together painstakingly work over a huge number of years to come up with these words, they are less about being literal than being about inspirational, being about something that gives you guidance. You have to be able to interpret and to paraphrase in the context of today. Whatever happened back then was back then and this is today. I think the Bible is still a very relevant document, not only for Christians, but for people everywhere. But don’t literally for God’s sake just take that simplistic view. The words are merely the English translations from King James’ Bible and in itself is an interpretation for goodness sake. Unless you are incredible learned scholars who can go back beyond the ancient Greek to look at the origins of the words that make up the Bible, than you really are on dangerous ground. There are a lot of good things in the Bible to be used in the inspirational sense, not in the literal sense. That’s the simple message there… I’m all for Christianity and all for the Bible but handle with care and respect. A lot of Christian scholars spend a great deal of time looking at the Bible and trying to make sense of it in light of today’s world, and that’s something that is a vital part of Christianity today. I’m not a Christian, don’t get me wrong, but I have a full respect and a huge sense of following Christianity and being predominately the Religion of my nation.”
“Obviously with Islam, Judaism, and Hinduism …they’re kind of in our culture too. We may not embrace them with the same ease that we embrace Christianity but nonetheless they are in our culture too. But I’m from here… I’m a white middle-class from Great Britain and my natural first response is to Christianity as something with a calling card that I can easily understand. However, it’s not going to make me a Christian. I like almost everything about Christianity except for the Jesus bit. I’m pretty big on Jesus the historical character in the context of his time. But Jesus as the son of God, well, that’s where you have to start thinking in looser terms; you’ve got to step out of the box once you get to Jesus in that role. He is symbolic, he is important, he is an example, and it’s terribly important to have that, but you’ve got to stop short of creating Jesus as essentially the face of God. We do know he really was a historical character in Palestine at a given point in time. He was a revolutionary; he was a Jew for God’s sake. He was a revolutionary Jew who was pissed off with stuff that was going on and the fact that many of the Religious hierarchy at that time were in cohorts with their Roman overlords to have a quiet but influential and powerful life. Jesus was an angry prophet. He was a guy who got pissed off … I like that Jesus. I don’t want to confuse him and give him Godlike status, that’s where I have to stop short and why I can’t really be a Christian.” Ray Shasho: Ian what are your thoughts on UFO’S … have we been visited by life from other worlds? Ian Anderson: [UFO’s AND ALIEN ABDUCTIONS] “Having been born in 1947, it was a good year for UFO’s. I may be the son of Roswell, who knows? Maybe aliens visited in 1947 and my mother was whooshed up into some alien encounter and was abducted and impregnated and I’m the result. Who knows? It’s a spooky tale but extremely unlikely. I think the chances of physical presence of alien spaceships from another far-off star are pretty slim in possibility terms, for a number of reasons. But I think there is every possibility that we have and we may be visited in the future. But I don’t think they will be real living creatures who have traveled at or beyond the speed of life. For the time it would take to get here, it seems to me; either we are talking something really in terms of the supernatural, in terms of parallel universes, in terms of multiverses, or in terms perhaps of just human imagination wanting to see bogey men when there aren’t any.”
“But I doubt if we’re really going to see living, breathing aliens. I think what we might see is rather the equivalent to the unmanned probe to Mars and beyond, because we can send machinery where we are not able to go. And right now a lot of scientists are trying to figure out how to get beyond the Van Allen radiation belt, because you’re going to have your testicles fried if you step outside the safety zone of magnetic shield into the trip beyond to Mars. There may be a lot of people who fanaticize about going to Mars in the next 30-50 years, whenever it might be possible, but personally I’m keeping my testicles where they belong (All laughing).” Ray Shasho: Ian, here’s a question that I ask everyone that I interview. If you had a ‘Field of Dreams’ wish like the movie, to play or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be? You can even go back to the classical period. Ian Anderson: [FIELD OF DREAMS WISH] “Well, it would probably go a little further than that. Because with Beethoven who I enormously love, appreciate, and respect as the most all around classical composer of all time. He came relatively late in the day in true classics terms and benefited enormously from Bach and Mozart before him. But he was very clever and way complicated and very consummate in his ability to understand and to arrange. It would be difficult to collaborate with him because certainly later in life he wouldn’t hear a word I say.”
“So I think I’ll go back to the very first time when music was first written down and the first notions of harmony came about. That would be kind of simple. So you’d have to plant me in a Medieval Monastery about a thousand years ago, where I could have talked in more equal terms to those who were spearheading the development of music, harmony, rhythm, and to find fault in music too, because maybe I could have helped them with lyric writing.” Ray Shasho: Have you ever traced your family heritage? Ian Anderson: [IAN’S ROOTS] “Not very far back …there’s probably some dreadful Danish Viking who landed on the east coast of Scotland and probably didn’t even leave the sheep alone (All laughing). Probably with a bit of a dastardly piratical past combined with a bit on my mother’s side, maybe some Celtic weaver from Britain perhaps. But no, it’s not been researched very far back. My much older brother did try a few years ago but he only got so far and then they couldn’t find anything else reliable further back than that. So they only went back about a hundred years or so. So I think we have some Viking blood. Not very romantic or glamorous but we were people that migrated, we came, we saw, some of us stayed behind and put down roots. We brought with us the customs, the language, and costume jewelry (All Laughing).” Ray Shasho: Ian, thank you for being on the call today but more importantly for all the incredible music you continue to bring. Ian Anderson: “Nice to talk with you Ray.”
Purchase your copy of Ian Anderson’s latest studio release entitled 'HOMO ERRATICUS' at amazon.com …on Ian Anderson’s own label imprint Calliandra Records in conjunction with Kscope
Very special thanks to the incredible Anne Leighton of Leighton Media: * Music Services*Motivation
Contact classic rock music journalist Ray Shasho at firstname.lastname@example.org
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