During almost six decades of existence Jethro Tull became one of the most influential Progressive Rock bands of all time. Although the band was formed in 1967, they really achieved a huge success in 1971 with the release of their praised album “Aqualung”. Most of the tracks became real classics and are played by the band continuously over the years.
One of that songs is “Crossed-Eyed Mary”, the second track of the album that sold an estimated amount of more than 7 million copies worldwide. But what is the meaning behind that song? What was the inspiration for it?
The meaning of the Jethro Tull song “Crossed-Eyed Mary” according to Ian Anderson
According to the band’s co-founder, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Ian Anderson, Mary didn’t really existed. He blamed his imagination that had many stereotypes at the time for creating her. As Anderson, who wrote the track, told The Telegraph in 2021, it is a politically incorrect song. He believes he probably would have changed the lyrics if it was written nowadays.
“It’s a weird one. But again, it’s about people in a landscape. And 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. And 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 now that I think of it (laughs). 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,” Ian Anderson said.
The song was recorded by Ian Anderson (Vocals, acoustic guitar, flute), Martin Barre (Electric guitar), John Evan (piano, organ, mellotron), Jeffrey Hammond (Bass) and Clive Bunker (Drums),. It was produced by Anderson and Terry Ellis.
That song was curiously covered in the following decade by Iron Maiden. Bruce Dickinson and Steve Harris are huge fans of Jethro Tull and their rendition was released in 1983 as the B-Side for “The Trooper”.