Locomotive Breath – Jethro Tull | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#62); 1976

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

In the early days, Ian Anderson and his band of merry musicians changed names like shirts, calling themselves everything from the Blades, after the club in Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels, to Ian Henderson’s Bag ‘O Blues. They narrowly escaped being forever known as Candy Coloured Rain when a booking agent suggested Jethro Tull, after the 18th century agriculturist who invented the seed drill. The prog-rockers’ name troubles still weren’t over: Sunshine Day, their debut single, listed them as Jethro Toe. Ian Anderson’s dynamic flute playing – patterned after that of jazz great Roland Kirk – and his distinctive appearance, coupled with the band’s unique blend of classical, jazz, and rock made Tull a standout in concert and on vinyl. This Was, JT’s 1968 debut LP, cracked Britain’s Top 10, and sold well stateside. Two gold long-players followed. Then, in 1971 Ian Anderson unleashed his pro-God, anti-religion musical tirade, Aqualung. Locomotive Breath proved to be the standout track although it didn’t chart upon its initial release in 1971.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2023 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Ian Anderson
  • Terry Ellis

Lyrics Written by:

  • Ian Anderson