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Jethro Tull — Locomotive Breath
Album: Aqualung
Avg rating:
8.2

Your rating:
Total ratings: 2726









Released: 1971
Length: 4:25
Plays (last 30 days): 3
In the shuffling madness
Of the locomotive breath
Runs the all-time loser
Headlong to his death
Oh, he feels the pistons screaming
Steam breaking on his brow
Old Charlie stole the handle
And the train. it won't stop going
No way to slow down

He sees his children jumpin' off
At stations, one by one
His woman and his best friend
In bed and having fun
So he's crawling down the corridor
On his hands and knees
Old Charlie stole the handle
And the train, it won't stop going
No way to slow down

He hears the silence howling
Catches angels as they fall
And the all time winner
Has got him by the balls
Oh, he picks up Gideon's Bible
Open at page one
I think God, he stole the handle
And the train, it won't stop going
No way to slow down

No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
No way to slow down
Comments (257)add comment
Best tune on the album! ...Benefit is my my favorite Tull album!
 philbertr wrote:

Who would ever have thought of a flute in heavy rock.



Due to the differing musical genres they used and the non traditional use of instruments I always considered JT to be on the periphery of prog rock.  You'll find flute on early Genesis and King Crimson also.
Somewhere around 1981 the music teacher at my fifth-grade classroom played our class Jethro Tull and then asked the flute players if they would ever like to learn to play the flute that well. They were all astonished at the flute playing and said they definitely would like to learn to play like that. Looking back, he was a pretty cool music teacher.  
Still good 
I was looking for the flute version of this but couldn't find it

 Madness1954 wrote:

I never got Jethro Tull when their albums were first released. And listening to this track again I still don't.



Give it another fifty years - it'll sink in.
 Madness1954 wrote:

I never got Jethro Tull when their albums were first released. And listening to this track again I still don't.



Brilliant. Thanks for letting everybody know  
 pinto wrote:

Opening song of their 1977 concert - lovely young lady comes on stage and acts as orchestra conductor to piped in classical music. Music stops. She bows.  BANG! Martin Barre emerges from explosion and smoke and starts cranking some killer guitar.  BANG! Barriemore Barlow on drums.  BANG! Bass, piano, then the biggest BANG and explosion of all and Ian Anderson drops in from above.  Music continues frantically, changing to opening riffs of Locomotive Breath, and we're in mid-concert form just a couple of minutes in.  Those English groups were high on theatrics in concert and they could always pull it off.  Outstanding.



I'm thinking Spinal Tap.
 Propayne wrote:

That tune cooks man....



With gas!
 ai63 wrote:

Oh but that opening build with keys and guitar.......shivers



Yes, and then the end is so opposite-so powerful 
I never got Jethro Tull when their albums were first released. And listening to this track again I still don't.
A heartbreaking, crunching song for when everything goes south in your life
 kbs wrote:
I guess you have a problem with the news then: it happens! I don't think JT are promoting or glorifying it it, just commenting on and holding up a mirror to life, the universe and everything... 



IA has mentioned there is no way he could write such non-PC lyrics in this day and age, implying that they would certainly be misinterpreted by the whingers
 DuranAir wrote:

I have a problem with the under age molestation in some of JT's tunes

I guess you have a problem with the news then: it happens! I don't think JT are promoting or glorifying it it, just commenting on and holding up a mirror to life, the universe and everything... 

 ThePoose wrote:

I just don't get the buzzing sound that appears after the flute solo...

I'll have to listen to my copy now...!

I just don't get the buzzing sound that appears after the flute solo...
 hayduke2 wrote:
Always loved the cover painting of scruffy Ian hiding his flute!!! 



Is that what he has under his coat?
 Sloggydog wrote:
Are there other people who feel this could be a perfectly acceptable song if it didn't have the flute?

Or Ian's "singing."
Can we just have a day without Jethro? Please?
Are there other people who feel this could be a perfectly acceptable song if it didn't have the flute?
Who would ever have thought of a flute in heavy rock.
RP plays some amazing stuff but too much Jethro Tull isn't good for anyone.
Absolutely one of the greatest (and probably  most influential) rock songs of all ages! 
 adrain6 wrote:
just make it stop......
 
"I'll make you stop, mister!"





The poster's legal council advises that no harm, real or imagined, shall befall any person or thing as a result of this exclusively mirthful song comment.  ; )
Always loved the cover painting of scruffy Ian hiding his flute!!! 
 juanmoe wrote:
And they're not in the Hall of Fame !  Disgraceful !
 
We remember them. That is what matters.
Janet Jackson is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Jethro Tull is not.
Nuff said. Cancel your visit
When  Jethro Tull  nails one.....God like....have to give it a "10"..
That piano intro always always makes me smile
I have a problem with the under age molestation in some of JT's tunes
Oh but that opening build with keys and guitar.......shivers
This is one of those songs where the volume seems to go louder all by itself.  When my wife gives me that "you're going to wake up the neighborhood" look, I can only shrug and say, "it wasn't me, it was Ian."  
The most iconic gulp of air during a flute solo in the history of flute solos.
 memoryboxer wrote:

I beg to differ. I've been listening to Tull since I was 11 in 1971, and have seen Tull 14 times (starting with Stormwatch tour in '79; last was Toronto about 8 years ago) and one of the things that fascinates me about their concerts is the age spread. While 98% men in the audience, and yes, the majority being an increasingly grey/bald over 50(60... 70...) crowd, there is ALWAYS a broad scattering of teenage boys in Zepplin t-shirts and RUSH baseball caps. It's somehow still a rite of passage that boys from 14-18 will need a solid dose of classic rock before they move on to whatever the current age-appropriate noise is, and Tull, especially Aqualung, seems to continue to be required listening.
 

I just saw "Ian Anderson presents Jethro Tull" last week in Saratoga (California), and I took my 14-year-old son, who liked the show very much. And of course they played this song. 
Tull are playing at the Kunstrazen in Bonn, DE this July. A very cozy outdoor temporary summer stage. Greatly looking forward to seeing them again, the first time being at the Hammy O in London ‘95 I think. A rite of passage for sure, driving at high speed through the dales of the Peak District Derbyshire from cave to climb to pub, recover, repeat with my mucker Fuzz.
 Proclivities wrote:

Believe it or not, other than over-50 listeners tuning into this station and listeners of classic rock stations, there probably really aren't very many people still listening to this. Fun tune, regardless of who's listening.
 
I beg to differ. I've been listening to Tull since I was 11 in 1971, and have seen Tull 14 times (starting with Stormwatch tour in '79; last was Toronto about 8 years ago) and one of the things that fascinates me about their concerts is the age spread. While 98% men in the audience, and yes, the majority being an increasingly grey/bald over 50(60... 70...) crowd, there is ALWAYS a broad scattering of teenage boys in Zepplin t-shirts and RUSH baseball caps. It's somehow still a rite of passage that boys from 14-18 will need a solid dose of classic rock before they move on to whatever the current age-appropriate noise is, and Tull, especially Aqualung, seems to continue to be required listening.
 SeriousLee wrote:
I hear Crazy Train from Black Sabbath, which came about 9 years later. Subtle, but it's there.
 
After a bit of research (because i'm not familiar with either band much) turns out that Tony Lommi, who formed Black Sabbath in 1968, left them for Jethro Tull for about a year before returning.
 
Interesting.
 
I'm not hearing any of that. Just an FYI. Crazy Train was an Ozzy song. Not Sabbath. Tony Iommi had nothing to do with it. 
And they're not in the Hall of Fame !  Disgraceful !
First band I ever saw - this concert - set me up for every concert since!! Always been hard to beat - few have!
 skuzzfud wrote:
Cod piece at the ready....
 
all time great guitar lead intro : >
"and...the all time winner has got him by the balls''
Cod piece at the ready....
Thumping rock.  It's the first time I listened to the words...and read them.. thanks

ps thx to Sam for the coke reference.  it makes more sense that way, rather than trying to figure out some directly suicidal thing.
 SchoepTone wrote:
How is it that Tull is not in the R&RHOF? 

 
So what? The Pistols ostentively gave a flying fuck about being there when they were inducted.
I hear Crazy Train from Black Sabbath, which came about 9 years later. Subtle, but it's there.
 
After a bit of research (because i'm not familiar with either band much) turns out that Tony Lommi, who formed Black Sabbath in 1968, left them for Jethro Tull for about a year before returning.
 
Interesting.
10 is too low
 Propayne wrote:
That tune cooks man....
 
"...the rest of book: To Serve Man, it's a cookbook!!!"
That tune cooks man....
just make it stop......
 SchoepTone wrote:
How is it that Tull is not in the R&RHOF? 

 
The HOF is a private scam and it doesn't mean anything. It may be actually better not to be in it.
Excellent drummer, excellent guitarist and the special Ian Anderson.

I didn't realise at the time how good they were and with the benefit of hindsight I see why they just had to be one of the all time greats.

Same applies to Led Zeppelin (the only difference was I knew they were great at the time).

 
How is it that Tull is not in the R&RHOF? 
10 X10!
 Sam_Chucklestone wrote:
Old Charlie is cocaine, Charlie in British slang means cocaine. Old Charlie stole the handle, he can't slow down. It's about a coke addict.

If you read the lyrics in this light, you can see the all time loser letting things slip away, his family his wife, his mind. He can't slow down.

Just sayin'.

It always was one of my favourite Tull tracks, even when I never used to pay attention to the lyrics. It sounds even better now.

There but for the Grace ... walks every man.

  Yes to all of the above.


Opening song of their 1977 concert - lovely young lady comes on stage and acts as orchestra conductor to piped in classical music. Music stops. She bows.  BANG! Martin Barre emerges from explosion and smoke and starts cranking some killer guitar.  BANG! Barriemore Barlow on drums.  BANG! Bass, piano, then the biggest BANG and explosion of all and Ian Anderson drops in from above.  Music continues frantically, changing to opening riffs of Locomotive Breath, and we're in mid-concert form just a couple of minutes in.  Those English groups were high on theatrics in concert and they could always pull it off.  Outstanding.
I give it an 11 - its one better!
Cranked the piss outa it.
Chew chew!
 ottovonb wrote:
42 years old and still smokin' hot. What music from today will they still be listening to in the year 2055?

 
Believe it or not, other than over-50 listeners tuning into this station and listeners of classic rock stations, there probably really aren't very many people still listening to this. Fun tune, regardless of who's listening.
 semolinapilchard wrote:
Most excellent, I'm standing on one foot dancing!{#Dancingbanana_2}

 
Now to work on that emboucher........
ten ten ten
I was watching Fargo the FX series last night and they played this song, it fit the storyline pretty well.
10. All that history!
Most excellent, I'm standing on one foot dancing!{#Dancingbanana_2}
turning{#Dancingbanana_2} speakers way up 
As I pack my gear for a mountain bike ride this is just stokage "And no way to slow down... uhhhh!".  

And this isn't even the best song on this album.  Try to new remastered version on vinyl.
One of the only songs that made KLH 9s and Audio Research seem lacking. Just wouldn't safely go loud enough.
 
 Lazarus wrote:

Man, what a great album...  still have this original vinyl...  love this song...

 

 
Old comment from the always renamed one but I also have this and and a good number of others on vinyl.  Including the Genesis just played.
10 - Godlike     : )    party on
 kcar wrote:
Back In The Day Seque:  Genesis "The Carpet Crawlers" —>  Jethro Tull "Locomotive Breath." 

{#Notworthy} {#Clap} 

 
The good ol' days!  
Pretty sure that this song alone, is responsible for about 10% of my hearing loss.
Still won't go loud enough. 
Back In The Day Seque:  Genesis "The Carpet Crawlers" —>  Jethro Tull "Locomotive Breath." 

{#Notworthy} {#Clap} 
 
{#Hearteyes}
raga wrote:
10, no way to slow down

 


 Me too. All I have is Thick as a Brick.

And this is great. High school daze.

Ahnyer_Keester wrote:
I'm not sure why I like Tull so much but ever time I hear one of their songs I think I should own more. Thanks for reminding me. {#Cool}

 


 GeorgeMWoods wrote:
Sophomoric

 
8.2 lol stick that in your sophomoric pipe and smoke it,  {#Nyah}
10, no way to slow down
Huge Tull fan but mostly like the folk-type tunes.  This, however, is one of the few exceptions.  Love it!
Was never one of my fave cuts off this record, but still a '6'.
Sophomoric
I'm not sure why I like Tull so much but ever time I hear one of their songs I think I should own more. Thanks for reminding me. {#Cool}
Wooo Hooo
Great Track. This is another we used to cover in one of my old bands.
Used to love playing it - we had some fun with it too(!) & hearing it always makes me smile!!

Maybe give the live Jethro Tull version a spin sometime perhaps? that really rocks!
cheers.

Ian gives a little tull to jeff the brotherhood! https://www.stereogum.com/1739564/jeff-the-brotherhood-black-cherry-pie/mp3s/
Oh yes he had him by the balls.
High school Art class — the teacher's out of the room, and we're talking about Music. I'd played it on the way to school; so did 2 others!
 On_The_Beach wrote:
Nice piano intro, followed by one of the catchiest guitar riffs ever.



 
The song so great it needs an intro for its intro.
 
 ottovonb wrote:
42 years old and still smokin' hot. What music from today will they still be listening to in the year 2055?

 
Not much - Porcupine Tree perhaps?
 Steve_Mcl wrote:
This was the second album I purchased and this track has always been my favourite.

 
Snap!
 CMax wrote:
At Tommy's surprise birthday party, Paul says he's going to be in charge of the music, and Gina yells to him, "No Jethro Tull!" Three guesses as to what plays in the next scene... what film?

 
Beautiful Girls?  A fine cast, with perhaps Ms. Portman's breakout role portraying an adult. 
GodLike !{#Dancingbanana}
 oldfart48 wrote:
allways time for TULL{#Sunny}

 
Agreed 100%
allways time for TULL{#Sunny}
I'll hear this one live (again) this Tuesday... 10.

Simple licks, played LOUD.  A teenager's dream, and still one of my favorites.


This was the second album I purchased and this track has always been my favourite.
It's a good one. Unforgetable!
OH YEA!!  {#Clap}
42 years old and still smokin' hot. What music from today will they still be listening to in the year 2055?

Man, what a great album...  still have this original vinyl...  love this song...

 
At Tommy's surprise birthday party, Paul says he's going to be in charge of the music, and Gina yells to him, "No Jethro Tull!" Three guesses as to what plays in the next scene... what film?
This is a classic, like it or not! {#Clap} Never really got the credit they deserved in my view...
Good Lord, I'd forgotten just how good this song was...
overplayed
 joelbb wrote:
Drop dead, Fred.
 
Gee, thanks Joe. Aren't you the milk of human kindness. Perish the thought that folk could post honest comments without having death wished upon them by other listeners. Well, just go blow, Joe {#Nyah}
Drop dead, Fred.
One of the few true rockers by this very talented group.  Tull's repertoire included R&R, Hey-nonny-nonny, classical and Jazz.  What IS akdavey's problem?
I knew a girl who would come over to listen to this record, because her mom wouldn't allow it, because he said "balls."  What's funny about that is that her mom somehow didn't think I would be a terrible influence on her, but the lyrics would be??
ah, the old Louie Louie riff.
 akdavey wrote:
Aaaaaand this is when I change the channel. Let's see what's on soma fm.
Way too much JT on RP and it's the only reason I switch. Maybe it's the rock flute or visions of trolls in the forest, but this is my kryptonite.
This has got to be the most overrated band of the millennium.
 
What a dopey comment.  

I have RP on all the time at home and work, and I don't seem to hear an excess of JT.

And the most overrated band of the millennium is Radiohead, end of story. 
 My toes ! My Toes !!!  I can't stop them from tapping ... a mind of their own ? or just
kick-ass R&R .... I forgot how much a love this song.  Flashes of "back in the day"
Hats off to you RP.

oh WOW......another great one!  Thank you RP!!!!  Don't mean to divert people, but if you love JT, check out the live videos on YouTube sometime.....esp. Isle of Wight.......who is as wild and daring as Ian these days?
 
chicka, chicka, chicka...
Nice piano intro, followed by one of the catchiest guitar riffs ever.


 akdavey wrote:
Aaaaaand this is when I change the channel. Let's see what's on soma fm.
Way too much JT on RP and it's the only reason I switch. Maybe it's the rock flute or visions of trolls in the forest, but this is my kryptonite.
This has got to be the most overrated band of the millennium.
 
How much nonsense!
Aaaaaand this is when I change the channel. Let's see what's on soma fm.
Way too much JT on RP and it's the only reason I switch. Maybe it's the rock flute or visions of trolls in the forest, but this is my kryptonite.
This has got to be the most overrated band of the millennium.
Always loved Tull, their sound is so much diffirent from the other bands around during the same era.
 DoctorHooey wrote:
My favorite Jethro Tull moment of all time is when Ian Anderson goes "BLEMP!" in the middle of his flute solo. Awesome.

 

{#Lol}   Was too busy last night to post on the comments board but this cracked me up so much that I'm responding a day late.

Yes, ole Ian is really good with his "blemps" and "meeps" and other assorted noises.  My favorite is the upchuck noise he makes at the end of Windup on this album, just after he sings "I didn't mind if they groomed me for success...bleaaalff"!


 kazuma wrote:
It only took me 30 years , but I finally get Tull.
 
Congratulations and welcome to the fanclub! 

I've always really liked Tull but could never get into the "Thick as a Brick" album until I listened to RP about a month ago and finally "got it".

 Dave_Mack wrote:
I saw Jethro Tull last Tuesday, and they played nearly every song on Aqualung, but not in order. This was the encore. Very nice, though I wish they'd played a lot louder and Ian Anderson could still sing. He was still a monster on the flute though.
 
I saw them about a year ago. It was great. The venue was small so the volume was perfect. The band was great and the flute and Barre's guitar playing were magically. There was a guy at the back who kept yelling for Locomotive Breath. Ian Anderson kept saying he couldn't hear him and the guy continued to take the bait and yell out the song. He was loaded so it was sort of annoying and funny at the same time. Needless to say when the encore came around this guy was frantic and then went into some kind of convulsing mess when the song started up. Ah the power of music! Mind you we all wanted to hear this song by then.

I saw Jethro Tull last Tuesday, and they played nearly every song on Aqualung, but not in order. This was the encore. Very nice, though I wish they'd played a lot louder and Ian Anderson could still sing. He was still a monster on the flute though.
I'd been without Internet access for about a week, so had to grab my brother's computer when I could.  I have NEVER appreciated this song more than now. I had no MUSIC, much less Jethro Tull, Elvis Costello, Band of Horses...  I did some reconfiguring (talk about floundering blindly) and now, my new processor, monitor, and speakers are in perfect working order. (Pats self on back.)  Point is, one probably doesn't know what one has until one no longer has it.

This was one of my favorite Tull songs, and now, it is again.  To those who complain about hearing a song too much, I suggest walking away from music for a week or two. Deliberately deprive yourselves of RP, or of any music. Content yourselves with AM radio or nature sounds.  Then, when you're ready to cut off your own head and feed it to the dog, come back and listen with open ears and a wiser mind.

I'm back, head intact, with wiser ears, wider eyes, and a big grin.  RP was the first thing I put on my new system.

I wrote a huge paper on this somg for a class in University "20th Century Culture", a humanities elective for engineers.  I got an A