One Brown Mouse


A tune “inspired by the Scottish poet Mr. Robert Burns, who, had he been able to tune his guitar in open E tuning…he would have certainly written this song.” according to Ian Anderson. In other words, Jethro Tull at their most humane and literary. Ian Anderson, a lover of folklore, nature and living things, pays homage to Robert Burns (1759-1796), also a lover of all those things and author of the famous poem To a Mouse. Burns, ploughing his farm in 1785, was upset at having destroyed a mouse’s little nest, and saw it as a symbol of man’s relentless encroachment on the natural world, which upset him even more. Anderson’s mouse lives in a cage with a running wheel and all the comforts of being a well-loved pet; he represents the existential encroachment of modern life upon both man and animal. All the fields that could be ploughed have been ploughed, the working animals have become hobbies, the wild ones dead or reduced to pets, and man’s life is little more than a repeating journey from one cold railway station to another- so goes the lament of Heavy Horses. It’s not all downside, though; at least this mouse will survive the winter, existential angst intact.

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