Song of the Day: “Thick as a Brick” by Jethro Tull

Please excuse me if some of this week’s reviews are short. I was so mentally exhausted after listening to these 10+ minute songs that I could only write a few curt sentences about most of them.

This is supposedly one, album-long song, but that’s a bit generous. Really it’s a less interesting Dark Side of the Moon: separate songs with composed transitions, giving illusory continuity.

I neither enjoyed nor resented this piece: Jethro Tull are compelling musicians, especially Ian Anderson, who provides charming flute solos (fairly unique in rock’s oeuvre). Yet the song never crested emotionally for me: I powered through the entire song for the sake of completion: I got in 44 minutes what I could have in 4.

——

I have a Jethro Tull-related anecdote, and won’t have a better time to share it than today, so I’m including it here. It’s one of my favorite memories, actually. When I was a senior in high school, Ian Anderson came to visit my high school’s Classic Rock Club. (Due to the odd scheduling choice of leaving one period every other day for club time, my high school had a lot of unusual student groups, like Classic Rock Club.)

The actual Q&A was fairly uneventful. I remember my one question for him, and it was coincidentally about “Thick as a Brick.” My question was whether he made it as a hard-core, one-song concept album as backlash to critics who mislabeled his previous album, Aqualung, as a “concept album.” (His answer: Yes, in part.) He had a young, attractive companion with him, and he went out partying with a couple of female students after the talk.

What I remember more than the actual event was something that happened beforehand. I had just started dating a sophomore girl a couple weeks before. She is now my wife, but back then, I was anxious to prove myself interesting and daring. We walked, along with some of her friends, to a nearby sandwich shop for dinner before Anderson’s Q&A. On the way back, I proclaimed that we were going to steal/adopt a shopping cart we found abandoned in a ditch near Home Depot. We were going to move it to our high school and give it a place of prominence.

We named the shopping cart Andre, and I climbed up to the roof of the school. I threw a rope we’d found in the band room down, and my then-GF and her friends attached it to Andre. I dragged it/him up, and placed it in a prominent position on the corner of the school. Here’s photographic evidence:

It took only minutes before the janitor noticed it, went on the roof, and removed it from its Pride Rock perch. No matter; the janitors didn’t want to push the cart off of the roof, so it stayed on the roof for several more months, until they rented a crane to take it down (seriously). Andre also appeared in a yearbook feature in my then-GF’s senior yearbook as a fun inside joke for those of us who initially liberated him from the creek next to Home Depot. And he remained at the school for half a decade later as a cart for the maintenance staff.

The group of us who recovered Andre stayed close (and named our friend group ADEKA — stealing the first letter of each our names, including Andre). The shopping cart became a folk hero, a local legend, a myth halfway between “that’s a crazy story!” and “you must have been weird in high school.”

Cheers, you magnificent shopping cart bastard. I hope you’re somewhere good these days.

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Dan S.

Dan is the editor of Earn This. He co-founded the site in 2009.

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