Connect with us

The meaning of the Jethro Tull song “Cheap Day Return”

Jethro Tull Cheap Day Return


The meaning of the Jethro Tull song “Cheap Day Return”

Jethro Tull was formed back in 1967 in Luton, Bedfordshire, England and since then has released 23 studio albums and has sold an estimated amount of more than 60 million records worldwide. But everything really changed for them with the release of “Aqualung” in 1971, which consequently became their best-selling album.


That record sold more than 7 million copies and has many tracks that never got out of Tull’s live setlist throghout the decades. One song that is constantly played by the band live is “Cheap Day Return”, but what is the meaning behind that track?

The meaning of the Jethro Tull song “Cheap Day Return” according to Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson, who is the co-founder, multi-instrumentalist, singer explained once which is the meaning behind “Cheap Day Return”. The musician told The Telegraph in 2021 the inspiration came after he went to visit his father who ill at the hospital in another city. It’s a type of train ticket, known nowadays as “Off-Peak Day Return ticket”.

“This was a song written about a brief visit up to Blackpool where my father was quite seriously ill and in hospital at the time. Not knowing whether he was going to make it, I jumped on a train and went up to visit him from London. We only spent, I guess, half an hour together in a ward in a hospital. (It) seemed like he was going to pull through and was being well looked after.”

He continued:

“But I had to change trains, in fact. In Preston town in the north of England. (There) I stood on one platform and went to another platform. (I) stood there in bitter cold stamping my feet to try and keep warm. Hence on ‘Preston platform do you soft shoe shuffle dance’. It’s a little ode to my father. Perhaps more importantly to the nurses looking after him in hospital. He did come home and did live a few more years after that. So, it was a nice, memorable and a very short little song,” Ian Anderson said.

Anderson was the one who wrote the track. Were also part of the recording Martin Barre (Electric guitar and descant recorder), Jeffrey Hammond (Bass). John Evan played the piano, organ, mellotron and Clive Bunker  the drums. Although is a praised song, according to Setlist FM, Jethro Tull only played the track live more a little bit more than 170 times.

The last time the Progressive Rock band played the song was in 2011 according to the website. Ian Anderson also performed the track a few times during his solo tours. He is the only member of the band who was part of all their releases.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

To Top