Jethro Tull - Locomotive Breath - 1971

"Locomotive Breath" is a song by the English 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 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 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" ostensibly refers to the steam ejected from a steam locomotive's pistons, which provided a characteristic foggy atmosphere and metallic odor to 19th-century train station platforms.


In the shuffling madness

Of the locomotive breath

Runs the all time loser

Headlong to his death

He feels the pistons scraping

Steam breaking on his brow

Old Charlie stole the handle and

The train it won't stop going

No way to slow down

He sees his children jumping off

At the stations one by one

His woman and his best friend

In bed and having fun

He's crawling down the corridor

On his hands and knees

Old Charlie stole the handle and

The train it won't stop going

No way to slow down, yeah

He hears the silence howling

Catches angels as they fall

And the all time winner

Has got him by the balls

He picks up Gideons Bible

Open at page one

God He stole the handle and

The train won't stop going

No way to slow down