When celebrating the 50th release anniversary of his band’s classic album, the folk-rock frontman acknowledges that ‘Cross-Eyed Mary’ was ‘not really a politically correct kind of song.’
Jethro Tull leader Ian Anderson would have tweaked songs he wrote for the band’s classic album “Aqualung” if he knew how politically correct the world was set to become 50 years later.
The folk-rocker celebrated the 50th anniversary of the release by talking about the songs during a YouTube chat with fans over the weekend, and admitted there are a number of tunes on the album he would have recorded differently if he could go back in time, including the second track, “Cross-Eyed Mary”, about an unappealing prostitute.
“I have no personal experience of ladies of the night…,” Ian said. “This particular one was an imaginary woman, probably flawed in some people’s eyes by being cross-eyed, but nonetheless, I suppose, attractive in some way to men who wanted to pay for her favors.”
“It draws together a lot of stereotypes. It’s probably not really a politically correct kind of song. There are quite a few of those on the ‘Aqualung’ album… If I was to write those today I might just moderate some of the descriptive nature, titles, names, just to soften it a little bit.”
In another interview, Anderson opened up about the inspiration behind the album’s title track. Speaking to Grammy.com, he revealed that he and his then-wife Jennie Franks were compelled to write the about a homeless person because of “a photograph [of homeless people in the south of London] that she had taken.”
“One particular one caught my eye and I said, ‘Let’s write a song about this guy.’ Not trying to imagine much about his life, but more in terms of our reaction to the homeless,” he detailed. “I felt it had a degree of poignancy because of the very mixed emotions we feel – compassion, fear, embarrassment.”