Really don't mind if you sit this one out.
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.
make a man of him
put him to trade
teach him
to play Monopoly and
to sing in the rain.

The Poet and the painter casting shadows on the water --
as the sun plays on the infantry returning from the sea.
The do-er and the thinker: no allowance for the other --
as the failing light illuminates the mercenary's creed.
The home fire burning: the kettle almost boiling --
but the master of the house is far away.
The horses stamping -- their warm breath clouding
in the sharp and frosty morning of the day.
And the poet lifts his pen while the soldier sheaths his sword.

And the youngest of the family is moving with authority.
Building castles by the sea, he dares the tardy tide to wash them all aside.

The cattle quietly grazing at the grass down by the river
where the swelling mountain water moves onward to the sea:
the builder of the castles renews the age-old purpose
and contemplates the milking girl whose offer is his need.
The young men of the household have
all gone into service and
are not to be expected for a year.
The innocent young master -- thoughts moving ever faster --
has formed the plan to change the man he seems.
And the poet sheaths his pen while the soldier lifts his sword.

And the oldest of the family is moving with authority.
Coming from across the sea, he challenges the son who puts him to the run.

What do you do when
the old man's gone -- do you want to be him? And
your real self sings the song.
Do you want to free him?
No one to help you get up steam --
and the whirlpool turns you `way off-beam.

I've come down from the upper class to mend your rotten ways.
My father was a man-of-power whom everyone obeyed.
So come on all you criminals!
I've got to put you straight just like I did with my old man --
twenty years too late.
Your bread and water's going cold.
Your hair is too short and neat.
I'll judge you all and make damn sure that no-one judges me.

You curl your toes in fun as you smile at everyone -- you meet the stares.
You're unaware that your doings aren't done.
And you laugh most ruthlessly as you tell us what not to be.
But how are we supposed to see where we should run?
I see you shuffle in the courtroom with
your rings upon your fingers and
your downy little sidies and
your silver-buckle shoes.
Playing at the hard case, you follow the example of the comic-paper idol
who lets you bend the rules.

Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won't you rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super crooks
and show us all the way.
Well! Make your will and testament. Won't you?
Join your local government.
We'll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.

You put your bet on number one and it comes up every time.
The other kids have all backed down and they put you first in line.
And so you finally ask yourself just how big you are --
and take your place in a wiser world of bigger motor cars.
And you wonder who to call on.

So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you though?
They're all resting down in Cornwall --
writing up their memoirs for a paper-back edition
of the Boy Scout Manual.

See there! A man born -- and we pronounce him fit for peace.
There's a load lifted from his shoulders with the discovery of his disease.
take the child from him
put it to the test
teach it
to be a wise man
how to fool the rest.

We will be geared to the average rather than the exceptional
God is an overwhelming responsibility
we walked through the maternity ward and saw 218 babies wearing nylons
cats are on the upgrade
upgrade? Hipgrave. Oh, Mac.

In the clear white circles of morning wonder,
I take my place with the lord of the hills.
And the blue-eyed soldiers stand slightly discoloured (in neat little rows)
sporting canvas frills.
With their jock-straps pinching, they slouch to attention,
while queueing for sarnies at the office canteen.
Saying -- how's your granny and
good old Ernie: he coughed up a tenner on a premium bond win.
The legends (worded in the ancient tribal hymn) lie cradled
in the seagull's call.
And all the promises they made are ground beneath the sadist's fall.
The poet and the wise man stand behind the gun,
and signal for the crack of dawn.
Light the sun.

Do you believe in the day? Do you?
Believe in the day! The Dawn Creation of the Kings has begun.
Soft Venus (lonely maiden) brings the ageless one.
Do you believe in the day?
The fading hero has returned to the night -- and fully pregnant with the day,
wise men endorse the poet's sight.
Do you believe in the day? Do you? Believe in the day!

Let me tell you the tales of your life of
your love and the cut of the knife
the tireless oppression
the wisdom instilled
the desire to kill or be killed.
Let me sing of the losers who lie in the street as the last bus goes by.
The pavements ar empty: the gutters run red -- while the fool
toasts his god in the sky.

So come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
Let me help you pick up your dead as the sins of the father are fed
the blood of the fools and
the thoughts of the wise and
from the pan under your bed.
Let me make you a present of song as
the wise man breaks wind and is gone while
the fool with the hour-glass is cooking his goose and
the nursery rhyme winds along.

So! Come all ye young men who are building castles!
Kindly state the time of the year and join your voices in a hellish chorus.
Mark the precise nature of your fear.
See! The summer lightning casts its bolts upon you
and the hour of judgement draweth near.
Would you be
the fool stood in his suit of armour or
the wiser man who rushes clear.
So! Come on ye childhood heroes!
Won't your rise up from the pages of your comic-books
your super-crooks and
show us all the way.
Well! Make your will and testament.
Won't you? Join your local government.
We'll have Superman for president
let Robin save the day.
So! Where the hell was Biggles when you needed him last Saturday?
And where were all the sportsmen who always pulled you through?
They're all resting down in Cornwall -- writing up their memoirs
for a paper-back edition of the Boy Scout Manual.

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.

Lyrics submitted by azkm

Thick as a Brick (Parts 1 & 2) song meanings
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  • +5
    General CommentOne common theme in most of Tull's lyrics is an implied narrator, akin to a medievel court-jester, whom tells absurd jokes riddled with hyperbole to humour his audience while hinting toward specific similarities of actual circumstances or events. Since he is considered a fool and not to be taken seriously, the jester's jokes can be either safely dismissed for their absurdity or thoughtfully pondered for the meaningful questions they pose depending on the audience's mindset. Examples of Tull’s narrator/jester theme can also be found in the lyrics of Minstrel In The Gallery, A Passion Play, Skating Away, Solitare, Wind-Up, Lick Your Fingers Clean and Sealion to name a few.

    Over-analyzing is of course exactly that — by definition ”over” means too much.

    After decades of listening to Tull & reading interviews from old magazine articles found on the Jethro Tull Press website, I believe the following quotes by Ian say the most regarding Thick's lyrics.

    "'Thick as a brick'; it really is a slang phrase from the north of England, where I spent my (well, some of my) growing-up years. To describe someone as being 'as thick as a brick' meant to describe them as being stupid, basically. You know, to be 'thick', as in 'thick-headed'; thick as a 'brick' being a small, dense object. So I was really talking about people being intellectually incapable of absorbing whatever it might have been put across in those slightly spoofish, bombastic terms in the lyrics of the album."
    (Excerpt from Ian's 12/23/91 interview on the US radio show, 'In The Studio - Thick As A Brick')

    "The way that I write allows a lot of people to interpret in their own fashion. I am not just saying one thing. I am saying a lot of things to a lot of people. The music means different things to different people." "I want to insist that every listener makes a tiny bit of effort to reach the music and interpret what I am saying. My words put out feelers. It's up to listeners to pick up on them and get from them what they wish - I'm not attempting to be clear-cut. I want to deal in terms that invite questioning. Balm for the masses is no use whatsoever." "We do tend to judge music on its rhythms and whether you can tap your foot to it. But most of our music deserves to be listened to several times. I'm still listening to Beethoven and I still don't understand what he is doing, but I'll get there some day. God knows that whatever I ultimately make of Beethoven I will never derive the same interpretation as what was intended - and I hope he respects my right to my interpretation - but at least I have a willingness to try to understand it." "I don't really want to get into specific comparisons and explanations, especially about Passion Play and Thick As A Brick. I don't want to start people off trying to figure out where the new album is in relation to the last two. Believe it or not, they all mean something." "It's distinctly worrying, because I know that the last few records have been difficult to listen to. WarChild, so I'm told, is a lot more accessible. I don't know if I like that or not. I've started to worry that perhaps people will think it's a simple record and they'll play it at parties and they'll play it when they're stoned and they'll play it in their car - instead of actually sitting down and making an effort to listen." (Excerpts from Ian's interview with Melody Maker magazine published in their 12/07/74 issue)
    gstormcrowon October 09, 2009   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis isn't a song about nothing. The 'story' behind the song about a 12-year-old writing was made up to illustrate the song's meaning.

    It's sort of a mix between a play and a fable, with the moral(s) being:

    Never blindy follow anyone else, especially if they say they know better than you, because they most likely don't. Think for yourself.

    Take responsibility for your own life and actions; God (or anybody else) won't save you from your own stupidity or ignorance.
    Entity79on February 11, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentRemarkable -- every time I'm astounded. Restraint is the deepest quality of the song. It's not like the classical model of slow buildup to climax and denouement. No, every word is key and there are four or five different musical themes that denote miniature climaxes.

    The poetry is astounding in its severity and also in its restraint; it is the most scathing of rock social commentaries yet it only sinks in over the period of 45 minutes; it doesn't "blow it's load" in the first stanza. The music is at times slow, and there is really no defining lead in the song except for the flute at the beginning, but it can be forgiven this weakness in that it is solid throughout. If one thinks of it as the score for a play rather than the background of a Rock song, it follows the story very well. There are also a bunch of solos that give buildup, introduction, and conclusion to the various poetic stanzas.

    How Tull pulled off a 45-minute song that rocks all the way is unknowable. It's like Pink Floyd's "Dogs" times 3; it's what every jam band tries to accomplish but they're too lazy. This may be the least known of the dozen or so true rock anthems, but it doesn't take away from its brilliance.
    ballzofsnoon July 13, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentThis song is an awsome song!!! My Marching band is playing it this year! its gonna be great....
    soad127on July 04, 2002   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIn his own words, Ian insists that listeners try to interpret what he is trying to say in Tull’s lyrics. How can someone who desires his listeners to analyze his music critique them for doing exactly that? Ian even puts himself in his listener’s shoes by stating he’s still trying to understand Beethoven and that it’s ok for listener’s to not have the same interpretation as was intended - it’s the “willingness to try to understand” the work that is important. In fact, Ian actually shows genuine concern that Tull’s listeners may be taking the music too lightly and not making enough of an effort to listen to what he is trying to say in the lyrics.
    gstormcrowon October 09, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI think this song could be the anthem for Jethro Tull and Ian's view of the world, for it is about his concern with conformity, something i've seen he talking about numerous times in interviews. He talks about children being labled by their parents religion. The progRock and conceptAlbum labels as well, of course. I remember him saying he chose the flute mainly because it was different, and that he likes to use different words, and even a different accent while singing, as you can notice, etc... it's all about non conformity, being yourself. You can se him talking this stuff on interviews on Youtube easily.

    This music and album being about this, it was the biggest irony ever when many people regarded it as the best concept prog rock album of all time.

    And I must say, not only this is one of the best music ever, you guys did a hell of an interpretation, I can't add a thing... inpraiseoffolly and murphymurphy, I'm with you.. and gstormcrow's quote from Anderson's interview just wraps it all up for me.. unlike Yes lyrics (like Close to the Edge), Tull's lyrics had much to say, although not being "clear-cut" and inviting people to think for themselves. Like he says about Beethoven, you can make your own meaning, but that does not mean he wasn't thinking of one when he wrote it!

    But this whole thing can get very messy, I recommend you check Close to the Edge by Yes, here in songmeanings, if you like the music.. that for sure is a hell lot less clear, but nontheless people make a lot of interpretations upon it.
    erickerickon October 21, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI don't have time to do the full thing now, but I am going to attempt to interpret this song.

    Here goes:

    Ok, the song opens with just a little bit about the poem. It says that he doesn't mind if you don't read it (sit it out). His poem (words) may not say too too much (whisper), but your inability to access it, to learn from it (deafness), hear it's message, that says a ton (shout) about you. He says that the poem may make you feel, but it can't make you think, that's something you have to do for yourself. As if to illustrate this, he gives an image of you going out and acting on impulse (sperm in gutter, love in sink).

    Thus, you ride out into the fields to act like animals (as opposed to people), and the people who guide you (wise men) cannot empathise, because they don't know how it feels to be thick as a brick.

    Well, that's all for now, the rest to come when I have time (which be in a week, given my current schedule).
    inpraiseoffollyon September 25, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm back:

    The sand castle virtues refers to entreprenurial morality (an interesting concept), but in the confusion caused to religion (and other factors), making up the moral melee, cause this morality to be washed away, in favor of immorality. As the moral melee makes it's "elastic" retreat, it leaves behind a "newfangled" conformism.

    BUT!, adherents to this conformism wear out their shoes, and get sunburned, and the whole wise man deal from before.

    Now we get to his lover, who is far away, and so he sees himself as being unreal (a bad dream that I just had today). Society's response is one of indifference (shake your head/said it's a shame).

    He wishes (odd for an eight year old, albeit a mature one) to go back to his toddler days, where he had no worries and did not have to deal with TRUTH, and people would sing him songs, and everything was wonderful.

    And yet again, I have to go. I hope to finish soon. I hope...
    inpraiseoffollyon September 28, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentNow we move on to society's involvement. When he was born, they saw not a child, but a soldier, even though he is still young (as evidenced by such signs of immaturity as pimples and bed-wetting). They chew him up, teach him how to succeed in our fake world (make a man of him), and spit him out, and none the better for it.

    Next, he grows up, and goes off to war. The next lyrical bit talks about how when he comes back, poets write about him, and painters paint him. He is the do-er, they are the think-ers, and society does not have room for both. As the last rays of hope (failing light) give light to (illuminate) the victory of the do-ers (mercenary's creed). The next bit is slightly unclear (sorry all).

    However, the poet lifts his pen while the soldier sheaths his sword, meaning that society makes one last attempt to live by the pen rather than the sword (think: "the pen is mightier than the sword").

    Referencing back to entreprenurial morality, the son (youngest of the family) takes control and attempts a moral life, daring society to make him conform (tardy tide... wash them all aside).

    Got to go... again. But at least I'm making progress now.
    inpraiseoffollyon September 28, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThe next part (yes, I am getting tired here, and will be less specific here on out), gets us to the point where we see the poet sheath his pen, and the soldier lift his sword (violence over politics). However, the son then puts it to his old-fashioned, violence oriented (or something like that) father.

    Now the father dies, and the son is on his own. He now has to decide what he wants to do with his life (does he want to be his father, or right his father's wrongs).

    Later we learn that he is upper class, bringing his upbringing to the lower classes, trying to mend them to be like him. He has become his father. He is going to teach the criminals that they are wrong, like he did with his dad (back when he "put him to the run."). He feels, however, that he is above judgement himself ("judge you all... no one judges me").

    Then we get a third person view of what he did, silently watching him be the very person he abhorred in his father. We then get some examples of his upper-class status, and watch and let him bend the rules.

    The next paragraph is distinct, speaking of how society is looking for a hero, a superman, to come lead them out of their troubles. It is set apart, and I'm not sure quite how it relates to the story of the son.

    Then we get back to the son, how he had all the advantages, and was always treated as superior. BUT, because of this, he can no longer call on anyone to save him, because he sees himself as better than everyone.

    And now I understand, he is calling on superman and the like to save him, because they are the only figures he sees as being above him.

    Biggles is a fictitious pilot. Biggles and the sportsmen, who were his childhood idols, are all too self-occupied to be his role model, and so he is alone in society

    AND I FINISHED PART 1!!!!!!!! Part two to come.
    inpraiseoffollyon September 29, 2006   Link

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