Snots Running Down His Nose

Ian Anderson made up a character called Aqualung after his wife Jennie an amateur photographer took pictures of transient people on the Thames Embankment.  Aqualung is a grubby homeless man with poor hygiene, an undesirable person that emerged from the dregs of society, who is thought to be a perverted, disgusting bum having no property, originating from a lower class of human.  The other character that was spawned from these pictures was named Cross-Eyed Mary.  Jennie was married to Ian from 1970 to 1974 and she helped write the lyrics for ‘Aqualung’.

This Jethro Tull song came out on their 1971 album of the same name, which became their landmark album and it opened up the doors to mainstream acceptance for the group, with the record going all the way to No. 7.  Martin Barre was the lead guitarist for the progressive rock band Jethro Tull and this was their first album with keyboardist John Evan as a full-time member, the first with bassist Jeffrey Hammond, and it was the last album with drummer Clive Bunker.  Aqualung was never released as a single and it is one of the few songs that Ian Anderson does not play flute on.

Aqua-Lung is a portable breathing apparatus for divers which was invented in Paris during the winter of 1942–1943 by two Frenchmen Émile Gagnan and Jacques Cousteau and it became the first open-circuit, self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (or “SCUBA”) to reach worldwide popularity and commercial success.  In the United States, the term aqualung was popularized by the 1958 popular television series Sea Hunt, where the lead character Mike Nelson wore an Aqualung.  Anderson made up his mind this homeless man had breathing problems that were caused from a chronic cough and because of that he probably made sounds like he was wearing an Aqualung, which he got from watching the Sea Hunt TV show.  Anderson didn’t know that Aqualung was a brand name, and the Aqualung Corporation took legal action after the album came out, but the case was eventually dropped.

A dog end is end of an already used cigarette and when you have greasy fingers smearing your shabby clothes, there is nothing beneath you, even if your leg is hurting bad.  My dad told me stories about him growing up in the Great depression and his older brother sent him down to the pool hall to pick cigarette butts up off the floor for him to smoke later.  Aqualung is thought to be a pervert (eying little girls with bad intent, watching as the frilly panties run), but he is still a person, although most people would just pass this old man by on the street even though he is wandering lonely, sick, in pain, and about to die.

Jethro Tull ceased to exist in 2011, when Anderson announced he would begin touring under his own name with a revamped band lineup.  That left guitarist Martin Barre out in the cold after 43 years in the band, but he also went solo. The group sold an estimated 60 million albums worldwide, with 11 gold and five platinum albums.  They were described by Rolling Stone as “one of the most commercially successful and eccentric progressive rock bands”.  Jethro Tull has been snubbed by the Rock Hall of Fame.

Sitting on a park bench
Eying little girls with bad intent
Snots running down his nose
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes, hey, Aqualung
Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run, hey, Aqualung
Feeling like a dead duck
Spitting out pieces of his broken luck, oh, Aqualung
Sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely
Taking time, the only way he knows
Leg hurting bad as he bends to pick a dog end
He goes down to a bog and warms his feet
Feeling alone, the army’s up the road
Salvation a la mode and a cup of tea
Aqualung, my friend, don’t you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see it’s only me
Do you still remember
December’s foggy freeze
When the ice that clings on to your beard
It was screaming agony
Hey and you snatch your rattling last breaths
With deep-sea diver sounds
And the flowers bloom like
Madness in the spring
Sun streaking cold, an old man wandering lonely
Taking time, the only way he knows
Leg hurting bad as he bends to pick a dog end
He goes down to a bog and warms his feet
Feeling alone, the army’s up the road
Salvation a la mode and a cup of tea
Aqualung my friend don’t you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see it’s only me
Aqualung my friend don’t you start away uneasy
You poor old sod, you see it’s only me
Sitting on a park bench
Eying up little girls with bad intent
Snots running down his nose
Greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes, hey Aqualung
Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run, hey Aqualung
Feeling like a dead duck
Spitting out pieces of his broken luck, hey Aqualung
Oh Aqualung

Written for Song Lyric Sunday where the theme is Chin/Ears/Eyes/Face/Mouth/Nose.

12 thoughts on “Snots Running Down His Nose

  1. Interesting backstory as always. I always revered Anderson as a flautist and did not know the origin of this song. Your SLS posts are always so rich and interesting.

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  2. I’ve heard some serious dissing on the R&R HoF from more than one source on who gets chosen and when. Enough that their credibility is in the crapper. To snub Jethro Tull seals the deal for me. I love their music. It is large and in charge but can also be as gentle as a butterfly dancing in the wind.

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  3. Tull was always a favorite band. In fact I knew their roadie way back when!! Anyway I loved Ian Anderson, especially standing on one leg playing the flute. So cool. I enjoyed reading this backstory Jim. It was very colorful 🙂

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