Performed during the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2003 in the land Deep Purple made famous with “Smoke On The Water”, this is the finest live performance of this song that I’ve ever had the pleasure of viewing.
I’m sure the song’s lyrics seem a bit weird to most people… Ever wonder what they’re really about? From Ian Anderson himself:
“When I wrote it, I wasn’t deliberately setting out to write a piece of music on a particular subject. But it evolved during the writing process into being not terribly specific, but about the issues of overcrowding – the rather claustrophobic feel of a lot of people in a limited space. And the idea of the incessant unstoppable locomotive being metaphor for seemingly the unstoppable population expansion on planet Earth.”
“Old Charlie”, who appears in the chorus to this song, represents God. Anderson says that when he “stole the handle”, he left the train running out of control. This symbolized everyone facing injustice in life and feeling powerless to do anything about it – You just have to make the best of it.
The real question regarding the “Aqualung” album in general is, what role does God play here? It asks the question, but gives no answer.
Click here to view, over on the
“Cygnus Studios Local Videos” > “Live Concert Footage” page.