Feel free to click on the first Global Song Competition post in which we determined “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” was Australia’s best ever contribution to music to learn the rules of this game. In short, we didn’t want to talk about the aftermath of the last regular season baseball series, so I started a distraction contest to...
...determine the greatest song of all time, based on my limited knowledge of music and other countries.
First, we’ll go with the smattering of countries I can accurately point to on a globe and spell correctly—sorry, Kyrgustan (nope: it was Kyrgyzstan)—and then, we’ll go state by state in the good ol’ US of A.
*Note: Feel free to disagree with my choices violently, and suggest better songs in the comments. I will not listen to you, nor will it affect the outcome of this ridiculous distraction contest, but I want you all to feel both seen and heard, even though I don’t know what most of you look like, nor sound like, but I want you all to feel effectively placated.
Alexandra Stan’s “Mr. Saxobeat” won Romania because... sweet sassy molassy, she’s hot. Further, with two losses in a row, it ended our ham-fisted gambit to get “Jozin z Bazin” in the competition during posts with countries whose names begin with letters of the alphabet.
*Note: Lawyers will be able to discern from that horridly ambiguous sentence my actual plan to get “Jozin z Bazin” back into the competition.
Today, we take a trip to the land of castles, kilted warriors, both sides of Doctor Jekyll, and perhaps the world’s greatest comedy festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
1) Jethro Tull - “Aqualung”
First, the controversy.
To refresh your memory, way back in May ‘22, during the post about England Pre-1980, reader/commenter Dore Jam said:
No Jethro Tull? List is shit...
...to which I replied:
Ian Anderson is Scottish.
So yes, while I will grant that the band formed in Blackpool Lancashire, England in 1967, and that guitarist Martin Barre is from Birmingham, you cannot argue that Jethro Tull is only Jethro Tull due to Ian Anderson and his flute, voice, and songwriting.
Is it even possible to imagine now, at least 25 years into the era of over-corporatized, auto-tuned, and over-produced pop pablum sung by former Disney Channel chum, written by a soulless bullshit factory with nothing of merit to bring to the cultural conversation—with songs about the relative merits of an ample bottom obviously excepted—a song like Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” debuting in the Billboard Top 25 and peaking at #7 a month later?
No. No, you cannot.
In fact, if a current song began with the lyrics “Sitting on the park bench/ eyeing little girls with bad intents,” its rights would be bought up by a right wing Super Pac, and turned into a meritless QAnon propaganda film starring Jim Caviezel and/or Kevin Sorbo.
Back to the song, though. What a match of music and lyrics, as both the instrumentals and lyrics match up in perfect dirt and snot-covered grimness. All you need is the opening guitar riff—which sounds as if Peter Frampton told his guitar to sing “Sitting on a park bench,” by the way—to flood your brain with the entire lyrics of this song. You’re singing it right now, aren’t you?
*Note: This song will be playing in the comments with every good play made by Vanderbilt freshman shooty hoops player JaQualon “JaQualung” Roberts for the entirety of his Vanderbilt shooty hoops career. You have been warned.
2) Jethro Tull - “Living in the Past”
Okay, I got a bit worked up over the last entry. Time to calm down with perhaps Jethro Tull’s most chill song. Heavily featuring the type of melodious fluting one would expect Peter Jackson hears in his head every time he draws up the story boards for a non-battle scenes from Lord of the Rings, and/or has to sue the movie studio for their fallacious claims that his massively watched film lost money.
Seriously, Jethro Tull, a band named after a 17th century British agriculturalist who invented a horse-drawn seed drill which jump-started the agricultural revolution, and sounds as if Medieval minstrels swapped out their lutes for electric guitars and their flutes for... umm... more recently made flutes... rock harder than any band this side of those three Canadian weirdos singing about Tom Sawyer. It really is quite something.
3) Jethro Tull - “Bungle in the Jungle”
This one’s is basically someone playing the flute whilst on safari. It has jungle cat roars it in. And sexual metaphors utilizing said jungle cats.
4) Jethro Tull - “The Whistler”
Shut up. This would not be a Vanderbilt sports blog post all-but exclusively featuring the songs of Jethro Tull without a song about The Whistler. Eat shit and die, Chuggers.
It’s not their best song, nor is The Whistler our least annoying fan. Still, we must tolerate its presence as it annoys the others much worse than it annoys us.
5) The Proclaimers - “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)”
You know how in “Name That Tune” they have people try to bid down the lowest amount of notes it would take to name said tune? Well, with this miserable ear-worm from the late 80s, I can’t imagine it taking any more than two.
This is the soundtrack of getting a cassingle stuck in your tape deck of your Pontiac Fiero, as the minute you hear even a second of this horror-scape, your brain will not stop playing it on repeat for weeks.
Ostensibly, it’s a song about Chivalric, Courtly Love, as this one man and his clone croon on about how far they would be willing to walk “just to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your do-o-or.”
First, they live in Scotland, a country that is famously only 274 miles long. See note from the Encyclopedia Brittanica:
At its greatest length, measured from Cape Wrath to the Mull of Galloway, the mainland of Scotland extends 274 miles (441 km), while the maximum breadth—measured from Applecross, in the western Highlands, to Buchan Ness, in the eastern Grampian Mountains—is 154 miles (248 km).
As such, if it was 500 miles in one direction, any direction, really, they would surely drown (as seen in this info-graphic from Slate).
So, they’re either straight-line headed to Iceland (would drown), Sweden (drown again), Spain (would drown), the middle of the Atlantic (would drown), or, I suppose, somewhere in mainland Europe (may survive, depending on whether or not one is allowed to walk The Chunnel).
Clearly, that’s not what they were talking about, then, unless they were referencing traversing that “length of Scotland” path both to and fro and then doing it again (which is, at least, mathematically plausible). To further speculate, they may well have been referencing walking along the road of Lands End to John O’Groats, which is the southwest to northeast extremities of the island of Great Britain. That’s 874 miles by road, and 1,200 miles if you were to hike it off road, which, mathematically, though close to the 1,000 mile target, is unlikely to end with one of those Scottish close falling down at her do-o-or, as the population of John O’Groats is only around 300 people.
So I guess it all comes back to my original guess, that their pledge to their lady love was to traverse the length of mainland Scotland to and fro and then do it again. Hopefully, she lives at one of those points, though note the low populations of each.
Vote in the Poll
Which song should represent Scotland in this competition?
This poll is closed
Jethro Tull - "Aqualung"
Jethro Tull - "Living in the Past"
Jethro Tull - "Bungle in the Jungle"
Jethro Tull - "The Whistler"
The Proclaimers - "I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)"
Which country should we do next (starting with the letter "T")?
This poll is closed
Trinidad and Tobago