Jethro Tull’s fifth album, Thick as a Brick dropped in March of 1972, one year after the release of Aqualung. Aqualung was often described as a “concept album,” a characterization bandleader Ian Anderson disagreed with, and this album was recorded as a response to critics.
“I always said at the time that this is not a concept album,” Anderson said of Aqualung. “This is just an album of varied songs of varied instrumentation and intensity in which three or four are the kind of keynote pieces for the album but it doesn’t make it a concept album. In my mind when it came to writing the next album, Thick as a Brick, was done very much in the sense of: ‘Whuh, if they thought Aqualung was a concept album, Oh! Okay, we’ll show you a concept album.’ And it was done as a kind of spoof, a send-up, of the concept album genre.”
Thick as a Brick consists of a single song that spans all of the album’s 40+ minutes. The lyrics are said to be an epic poem written by a boy genius named Gerald Bostock. Now that’s a concept album!
The first few minutes of the album contain what is generally considered the title track. It’s the only portion of the record I’ve heard. It’s presented below along with the few minutes that follow.
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 not to sing in the rain.