“Mrs Tibbets” by Jethro Tull on the Sunday Song Spotlight

Jethro Tull’s brand new album The Zealot Gene has people talking not just because it’s their first album without Martin Barre on guitar since their debut.  It’s also because it’s really good!  Christmas music aside, this is the first studio album under the Jethro Tull banner since 1999’s J-Tull.com.  It’s essentially an outgrowth of Ian Anderson’s solo band, which he finally felt comfortable bringing back full circle to Jethro Tull.  Whatever!  It’s all good.

“Mrs Tibbets” is the first song on The Zealot Gene, and a surprising one at that.  Thought it’s not short at 5:53 in length, it has distinct pop qualities.  The 80s keyboards certainly bring to mind a past era, when Van Halen was topping the charts with their own keyboard-drenched music.  The flute is a main feature, delivering the first melodies and, as always, many jaw-dropping passages.  Florian Ophale on guitar makes comparisons to past lineups unnecessary, when the track gets heavily progressive mid-way through.  The axework has a nice vintage sound to it.

The lyric book references Genesis chapter 19 verses 24-28.

24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.

I don’t think this is a song I’m going to crack conceptually after a few listens.  Give it a go and see what you think.  Brilliant track!


Blinkered against the harsh and raging sun
They said, divert your gaze, don’t look behind
It was time, they said, to do that thing
Mindful, they, of peace and peace of mind

Don’t feel bad, they said, about the numbers
Don’t feel bad about the melting heat
The burning flesh, the soft white cell demise
And the shattered ground beneath the trembling feet

Mrs Tibbets’ little boy
August morning silence breaks
Eyes to Heaven, Manhattan toy
Drops in for tea and Eccles cake

All for the good and ultimately
Saving precious lives in longer run
Set a course for home and happy holidays
Tell yourselves thank God what’s done is done

Mrs Tibbets’ little boy
August morning silence breaks
Eyes to Heaven, Manhattan toy
Drops in for tea and Eccles cake

Maybe if Lot had stopped and stood his ground
And maybe if Peter hadn’t turned away
What if that Judas stole no kiss?
What if, what if, Enola Gay?

Mrs Tibbets’ little boy
August morning silence breaks
Eyes to Heaven, Manhattan toy
Drops in for tea and Eccles cake

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas
Open parcels, gifts of different kind
A bigger bang will call for bigger bucks
So pay the ransom, don’t look behind



  1. Correction: Barre joined for the second album, Stand Up. The first album, mostly blues, prophetically entitled This Was Jethro Tull, hat Mick Abrahams on guitar.

    Bavarian guitar virtuoso Florian Opahle, the one on the right, mainstay of Ian’s solo bands, played most of the electric guitar on the album, but has since left the band and has been replaced by an even younger English bloke.


  2. The songs are inspired by the Bible. (Anderson has said that he is not a Christian but supports some aspects of Christianity.). Sort of like Iron Maiden being inspired by ancient Egyptian religion: it’s a source, but it doesn’t mean that the chaps are planning on getting mummified.

    The order of the songs reflects the order of verses in the Bible. The idea is to juxtapose them with more recent events. Mrs. Tibbets’s first names were Enola Gay. The plane which dropped the first atomic bomb was named after her.

    Yes, this is not “do you think I’m sexy” or “she’s got legs”. :-)

    I’ll buy the album next week. The consensus seems to be that it is the best album by Tull and/or Ian Anderson in at least 40 years.

    As for the name, despite Barre’s long tenure, it’s hard to find a band dominated by one person as much as Tull is Ian’s band. So if he wants to call it Tull, from that point of view, fine. Two things bother some fans about calling it Tull. One, back in 1986 or 1987, Ian said that any incarnation of Jethro Tull would have to include Martin Barre. Second, starting with the line-up change after Stormwatch, Ian’s policies have been less than perfectly clear, to say the least. Not all of it his fault, but some. Barre doesn’t know why he was dismissed, and the reasons Ian has given for not using Barre and/or for sometimes performing as Tull and sometimes as Ian Anderson are unconvincing to say the least.

    Great musician though. Who else has written so much good music and good lyrics and single-handedly (literally, in some cases) established the FLUTE as a lead instrument in rock? He is also a very interesting acoustic-guitar player, and his singing from about 1972 to about 1976 is some of the best on record (pun, as always, intended).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I noticed that about the booklet, that each song references a Biblical passage. I haven’t checked out the other passages or dug too deep into the words yet. Seems like a rather large undertaking. As you said — definitely not “I’m Too Sexy for my shirt”.

      The Barre thing does not bother me. Circumstances always change. It would be nice if we could all stay true to everything we ever said, but that wouldn’t be very practical either. I love Martin but the fact is, this is very good and Tull-like, even without him. It’s undeniably Tull-like and as you said, there’s only one guy who has been there since day one. It’s Ian’s band.

      I like it a lot and I’m looking forward to The Zealot Gene growing on me further!


  3. there are so many of those Justin Hawkins rides again episodes…
    liked this one

    What Being On Tour Is REALLY Like.
    Have u watched these?


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