It’s not the holiday season for me without some Jethro Tull. Something about Ian Anderson’s arrangements, soaring flute passages, and witching-hour vocals just evokes powerful imagery of, as C. S. Lewis might put it, the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time; music with one foot in the Ancient Pagan world, but also one in the Modern Christian one. Plus all those cool prog-rock flourishes. Good stuff.
When it comes to holiday music from Tull, I usually delve into either 1977’s Songs From The Wood or, in the case of today’s selection, 2003’s Christmas Album. Yes, I know, the latter seems more obvious, but Songs From The Wood has an incredible selection of tunes that lend themselves to the holiday season. That said, when you have a wonderful song like Jack Frost And The Hooded Crow, this little write-up practically writes itself.
Originally recorded for their 1982 LP The Broadsword and the Beast, this re-recording, with its flute, mandolin, and percussion opening, medieval-styled melodies, and atypical time-signatures, already seems to radiate with arcane overtones, especially given the two mythical folk figures at the center of the story. But it’s a simple fable, advising (or admonishing) us, while we enjoy our good fortune and holiday cheer, to take time to remember those who are less fortunate. After all, fate is a notoriously fickle beast; you could wind up with nothing to celebrate, and no one to celebrate it with… save for Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.
A simple message, beautifully delivered, from Ian Anderson and company.
Through long December nights we talk in words of rain or snow
While you, through chattering teeth, reply and curse us as you go
Why not spare a thought this day for those who have no flame
To warm their bones at Christmas time?
Say Jack Frost and the Hooded Crow.