Mainman Anderson blames ZZ Top and Robert Palmer for “gung-ho attitude to women” but argues classic track Budapest makes amends

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

Respect issues: Anderson

Jethro Tull mainman Ian Anderson says he regrets the “gung-ho attitude to women” demonstrated in the band’s track Kissing Willie from 1989 album Rock Island. But he believes the classic track Budapest, from their previous record Crest of a Knave, makes amends for the offence.

During an in-depth interview with Classic Rock Revisited in which Anderson discusses one track from every Tull album, he says: “Kissing Willie is not one of my favourite songs.

“It was set out to be a little bit of fun. At the time there was a kind of gung-ho, naughty attitude to women. Don’t blame me – blame ZZ Top because they’re the ones who started it. And Robert Palmer was using dollybirds in his videos. Kissing Willie was in that era.

“We made it almost like a Benny Hill spoof. We did a video with a well-known maker who wanted to do a costume drama. The music and video is not something I’m happy to be reminded of. It’s not something I should be running off to show my three-year-old granddaughter.”

But Anderson finds solace in 1987′s Budapest, regarded as one of Tull’s best moments. “On the face of it, lyrically it’s quite sexist. But it’s actually quite a respectful song.

“It says all kind of erotic things about a young female body – but the whole point is to respect it and not do anything about it. It’s about respect for naive youth in the female form, for the sanctity of growing up, which is not to be trifled with.

“It’s an important song for me and one of my all-time favourites. People think it’s a manipulative piece but when you read the lyrics and follow them to their conclusion, it’s actually quite the opposite.”

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