Monday, October 22, 2012

Slipstream - another post

I knew I had written about "Slipstream" by Jethro Tull when I accidentally came across an article in Daily Kos which was oddly about the second "side" of Jethro Tull, the side devoted to religion. link   I did post something, but looking back, I never explained the meaning, just assuming my hint would unfold the meaning. The entry was in this blog for some reason, rather than another, so here I place this. Sorry, I'm learning this blog stuff as I go. It is odd that the writer at Daily Kos said second "side." This goes back to vinyl.  I knew the second side was a different album from the first which was entitled "Aqualung." The second side is an album entitled "My God." And I knew this because, with vinyl, I held the music in my hands. Look at the labels on the vinyl:
Look to the right under "Side One"
...and under "Side Two"

In the article, the author admits his inability to understand the meaning of "Slipstream."  I have lived with this album being a primary influence on my life, so you know I have an opinion.
The lyrics:
Well, the lush separation enfolds you
And the products of wealth
Push you along on the bow wave
Of their spiritless, undying selves

And you press on god's waiter your last dime
As he hands you the bill
And you spin in the slipstream, timeless, unreasoning
Paddle right out of the mess and you paddle right out of the mess
Song link, Youtube.

I have always liked the first line of this. The lush separation that enfolds a person is the separation between one and God. It is a richly patterned separation; it is clever; it is from society all around with it's entertainment and fine clothes and fine decoration. This song is going to be about the arrogant hypocrisy of the wealthy who believe they can serve both God and money.

Continuing... the products of wealth push you along on a bow wave. This is the first analogy to water and a ship. One can ride on a bow wave, the wave that spreads outward from the front or bow of a ship, being pushed along by the force of the ship. Dolphins do this and small boats can do this.

It is a short song. Second and last verse: to press on God's waiter your last dime, is an indication of the limits of being human. God's waiter must be serving you the food or word of God, so this must refer to organized religion or churches. "The distinction between religion and God" is important in almost every song on the My God side of the album deferring to Rolling Stone here for the phrase but their review seems to mush together the two separate themes of the album. (Side one seems much more thematically about society and Dickens.) Side two is dead on obviously about God and religion.

In pressing a dime on the waiter for God, I have vision of slipping money into the hand of the waiter to look the other way. Since my youth I guessed this referred to the selling of indulgences. There are two kinds of indulgences:  partial and plenary.  A partial indulgence removes part of the punishment of sins that has been or is yet to be committed.  A plenary indulgence removes all of the punishment of sins. It is one of those things I would not want to explain to my child when going over the history of the church.

Using one's last dime must refer to the temporary nature of human existence. And you spin in the slipstream which is that part of the water behind a ship that is moving along ahead. Unlike the bow wave it is more turbulent and might cause your small boat to spin. To me the ship refers to life and now it is passing us by, as it must. It just moves without regard to you. A slipstream can also be ridden as it sucks a small boat behind it. Paddle right out of the mess and you paddle right out of the mess would refer to our attempt to paddle out of the spin. Man's attempt to do this and the ship itself is timeless, and unreasoning. It is complete arrogance to believe that wealth has no responsibility attached to help one's neighbor, to save a starving man, to at least put one's vote to use to accomplish a good society and eradicate poverty and war... and it is the wealthy this song is describing. There is no last dime in wealth, it is the last dime in health. There is an inevitable end. Indulgences, perhaps, but I think that is more of a pig in a poke sold to the wealthy by the churches they fund, churches that teach the acceptance of camels going through the eyes of needles.

Fold out album inset. This was one great package of ideas.
One side of album inner sleeve.
Close-up of inset one, classic Tull one legged pose.
Album inner sleeve, other side.
Close up of inset 2.
There is nothing but nothing like holding the music in your hands, holding your prized possession of awakening.

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