Performer: Jethro Tull
Songwriter: Ian Anderson
Original Release: Roots to Branches
Definitive Version: None
Although I’ve known Jethro Tull since I was a little kid, I can’t say I was much of a fan. Tull was about the only semi-progressive dinosaur band that I didn’t bond with, for some reason. Them and King Crimson.
So it was with some trepidation when Debbie’s brother, Anthony, suggested going to see Jethro Tull when they toured in 1996. To me, it was kind of like going to see The Beach Boys but without the must-see cache—they weren’t exactly current. Debbie wanted to go, so, of course, we went.
I’ll have more to say about the show itself at a later time, but it was the only thing in all the time that Debbie and I were together that we did with her brother. I mean, we saw him all the time at Christmas when Debbie’s entire extended family would invade our home, and we’d see him when we’d go over to visit Debbie’s mom. (He still lived there.) Debbie loved her brother, but their lives didn’t intersect much, you know?
Anthony had a gigantic rottweiler, Choker, who always looked at me crosswise, but I’d let him give me a sniff, and we’d be good. I never had a problem with Anthony. He was a good guy.
Anyway, it was with considerable sadness that Debbie called me years after we had broken up and after I had moved to Chicago to say her brother had died.
Apparently, he had some illness that he didn’t react to right away thinking it was just some random pain. Unfortunately it was blood poisoning and within two days he was at the hospital in ICU and under extreme duress when he died. It was very upsetting to Debbie and it was shocking to me, although in retrospect, I can’t say I was all that surprised.
Debbie’s family has what she called a curse and what I suspect is some genetic deficiency, but most of the males in her extended family died by the time they were 57. Anthony was 52, so he didn’t even make it that far.
So, I think of him when I hear Jethro Tull but particularly anything off Roots to Branches. But I think of him more almost every time I hear classical music. Why? The last Christmas that Debbie and I spent together, in 2000, Anthony gave us a double folding chair, complete with table and cupholders in between the chairs.
It turns out, we never used it, and Debbie bequeathed it to me when we broke up. I brought it up to Chicago after I moved here, and Laurie and I use the chair all the time when we go to Millenium Park or Ravinia for concert picnics in the summer. I love it.