Locomotive Breath (4:30)

Cover of Aqualung

From Aqualung and 128 other releases

“Locomotive Breath” is a song by the British progressive rock band Jethro Tull from their 1971 album, Aqualung. It is notable for a long bluesy piano introduction (particularly during live performances) and its flute solo by flautist Ian Anderson.

The song’s lyrics use the imagery of an impending and unavoidable train wreck as an allegorical portrayal of a man’s life falling apart. The song receives frequent airplay on classic rock radio stations. It was covered by Rabbitt on their 1975 album Boys Will Be Boys, by Italo-disco outfit Cat Gang in 1983, by W. A.S.P. on the reissue of their 1989 album The Headless Children (as a bonus track), Styx on their 2005 album Big Bang Theory, and Helloween on their 1999 album Metal Jukebox. A Swedish rock band, formed in 1995 by Janne Stark, takes its name from the song.

The term “locomotive breath” refers to the steam exhaust from a steam locomotive.

“Locomotive Breath” was recorded in a rather unusual manner for the time: the entire track was pieced together from overdubs; most of the parts of the song were recorded separately. Ian Anderson did his normal flute and vocal parts in addition to bass drum, hi-hat, acoustic guitar and some electric guitar parts. John Evan’s piano parts were then recorded; Clive Bunker added the rest of the drums and Martin Barre finished the electric guitar parts. All of these recordings were then overdubbed onto each other because Anderson was finding it difficult to communicate his musical ideas about the song to the other band members.


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  • flippant23

    Saw them live once, great show. It was the tour after they released "Songs From The Wood."

    28 Jun 11:07pm Reply
  • supermediadave

    A classic of classics.

    14 Jun 4:26am Reply
  • FearDeimos

    What can I say that has not already been said. :-)

    25 Apr 5:59pm Reply
  • Angel_Blue-


    3 Apr 5:01pm Reply
  • Nettacki

    recently featured in a Dark Souls II trailer. Strange, but true.

    13 Mar 9:37am Reply
  • mondojohnny

    aqualungs? locamotive breath? What the hell was anyone talking about in the 70s? Well may as well just roll with it I guess... I got one... submersible ....toe.... or how about this dirigible shoes!

    6 Feb 11:32pm Reply
  • MackSpane

    By "him" I can only presume you guys lower down mean Ian Anderson, yes? And heck yes, he's downright AMAZING as a flutist.

    1 Jan 10:45am Reply
  • southstarmusic

    i think only ron burgandy could rival ian on the flute ;)

    9 Dec 2013 Reply
  • Philbitar


    26 Nov 2013 Reply
  • Panecea

    EPIC ♥

    22 Nov 2013 Reply
  • robertwneal

    I saw him live also ....... and he can sure can Tute on that Flute!

    9 Nov 2013 Reply
  • angeleyes001

    I saw him live.............what a show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Love the flute of earlier songs!!!!!!!!!!

    4 Nov 2013 Reply
  • benx92

    is someone farting in the background?

    13 Oct 2013 Reply
  • IamFlood

    Wow, haven't heard this one in a time.

    1 Oct 2013 Reply
  • ButchGantenbein

    fantastic above and below!!!

    26 Sep 2013 Reply
  • shoegazefan


    18 Sep 2013 Reply
  • usamike

    make some place, dean & sam are coming back to get rig of monsters !

    18 Aug 2013 Reply
  • robertwneal

    Flutastic playing by Anderson. His voice is like a locomotive that ran out of breath, er steam. Oh the joys of getting Old.

    7 Aug 2013 Reply
  • usamike

    the songs make me think of Barracuda from Heart ! a twin song !

    24 Jul 2013 Reply
  • usamike

    a fXucking good song ! heard in supernatural tv serie ! i fell like i'm a child beating my hand on my humps to rythm the course & run on an imaginary horse !

    23 Jul 2013 Reply
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