Top rock band Jethro Tull were Living In The past and scored a hit with a song with that title?

Time travel

The British rock band Jethro Tull, led by flamboyant front-man Ian Anderson, had a hit in 1969 entitled Living In The Past, and if time travel was a possibility and I could go back in time I would. You see I often end up thinking that the good old days really were better than the madness of modern life and the state of the world today.

And you don't have to go back that far. I am talking 20 years, 30 years or 40 years ago, when I think life was better for a number of reasons.

Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull

Jethro Tull March 1978 at London's Hammersmith Odeon. Photo by Stratocus
Jethro Tull March 1978 at London's Hammersmith Odeon. Photo by Stratocus | Source

Reasons for living in the past

One reason I have is that stuff you bought then often worked a lot better and lasted longer. One item that comes to mind is the old-fashioned wind-up watches which you simply wound every day. Most modern watches are battery operated quartz watches and the chances are the battery will pack up and with it your time-piece. It has happened to me so often living here on Tenerife.

The problem is made worse by the fact that you have no way of knowing how long a battery has been in any watch you buy. The worst I have had is for the watch to stop working within a month. Now of course it is possible to get new batteries but you need the right ones, you cannot always find them and it is a lot of hassle having to do this.

With a watch you wound up when it stopped you realised it needed winding and after you had done so it worked again. A simple solution that worked most of the time.

The problem with CDs

CDs were hailed as a brilliant new invention but give me old-fashioned vinyl any day. It not only looked better because you had a much larger record sleeve and any accompanying artwork but vinyl records also played better too.

I find that CDs, even with a tiny mark or bit of dust on them can stop playing properly, stick or skip. Vinyl just crackled a bit but had to be badly scratched to have any really bad and noticeable effect.

Neil Young and CDs

Singer-songwriter and rock guitarist Neil Young, who is a personal favourite of mine, says that the sound quality of vinyl is better too and I am inclined to agree with him. Sadly I had to get rid of all my vinyl collection and record player when I moved abroad and have had to get used to CDs but I miss what I once had.

These are perhaps trivial reasons for wanting to return to the past but there are far more serious ones. When it comes to health I believe that it was genuinely easier for many people to stay fit because the quality of food and drinks available then was better. You see although perhaps there were less products and variety the food that was on sale was not laced with all manner of toxic additives like aspartame, mono-sodium glutamate (MSG) and genetically-engineered soya and maize flour. Genetically modified fruit and vegetables were not on sale.

Colony Collapse Disorder

The natural environment was healthier and this was reflected in the fact there were far more birds and butterflies about as well as wild flowers. Bees were not dying from Colony Collapse Disorder. The oceans were not full of plastic that is killing marine animals and sea birds. It was a very different world. The natural environment is being poisoned with pollution of all sorts including chemicals and very dangerous radiation. We are being poisoned too!

Living in the Past by Jethro Tull

Dangers of Fluoride

When I was younger we didn't have fluoride in the drinking water supply but now in many places you have this toxic element added so are denied choice. Surely the public should be allowed to decide if they want to risk taking this poisonous substance into their bodies on a daily basis and shouldn't be the victims of enforced mass-medication?

If you don't want fluoridated water in your domestic supply you have to buy an expensive reverse osmosis water filter to get rid of it or buy bottled water, which in turn adds to the problem of polluting the planet with plastic that is accumulating in the oceans and killing marine animals. Fluoride is classified as a poison and is the unwanted by-product of the aluminium industry. It was used by the Nazis to make their prisoners docile and to render people infertile. That is documented. So what is it doing in our water supply? I know I don't want fluoride in my water, thank you very much!

And it doesn't just harm people but it kills some plants such as the Dracaena species. I have seen enough Dragon Trees (Dracaena draco) dying or in a bad condition after the public water has had fluoride added to it here in Tenerife to have concluded that this is what is weakening the trees.

Where have all the public drinking fountains gone? When I was child these sources of fresh drinking water could be found in parks and public places. The water didn't have fluoride in it. Now this method of supplying free tap water has gone and we are expected to buy it in plastic bottles or go without!

Living in the past poll

Would you prefer to be living in the past?

  • Yes
  • No
See results without voting

A safer world

It used to be safer too. There was nowhere near the amount of 'mindless violence', vandalism and street crime that is so prevalent today. Many cities and towns have become dangerous places to be after dark, especially on weekends. Mugging and burglaries are taking place where once they were unheard of.

There are many causes for this including drugs and crime motivated by a need for money for addicts to feed their habits, but also because money has become a problem for many more people caused by the ongoing economic crisis created by the banks and bankers. The world really is in a much worse state of affairs from what it was just decades back!

So if I really could travel back in time and stay there to live I would jump at the chance!

© 2011 Steve Andrews

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Comments 29 comments

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 5 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Happy and I'm smiling, walk a mile to drink your water...

I've still got my vinyl collection (and the wherewithal to play it). The last time I saw Tull live was in Hereford, on the Living in the Past 25th anniversary tour. Wonder if they'll do a 50th anniversary tour in 2019?!

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I wish I had mine! Thanks for posting, Paraglider!

PETER LUMETTA profile image


Well Bard we may be the last generation to have experienced the natural world before it was fouled into being unrecognizable. I am so sorry my daughter won't be able to see the world as we saw it 50 years ago. And if my grandchidren make it to the mid century will they see the whales and the sea birds? Will we still be fighting each other for simple pleasures like clean water and clean air to breath? I think our time is past and that is why we love it so much in the past, those times and things are gone. I hope we can all be there again, together. Peter

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for your comments, Peter! I know when I was younger I never dreamed of a world like this and would never have considered animals like whales as going extinct but such is the mess humans of made of the planet this is now a grim reality!

Lynn S. Murphy 5 years ago

I think you're onto something here Bard. We had such wonderful freedom as kidlets, roaming the 'hood til mom called for dinner. Oh and my favorite Jethro Tull album is "Too Old to Rock n' Roll too Young to die". Love Neil Young - Heart of Gold.

Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

Enjoyed your hub. It would be so nice to go back in time. For me I would choose the 70's or early 80's.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for your comments, Lynn and Susan! Lynn, Neil Young is my favourite singer-songwriter.

AntonOfTheNorth profile image

AntonOfTheNorth 5 years ago from The Land Up Over

Efficiency vs. Humanity. The struggle of the 21st century.

Of course if we could get enough people interested perhaps we could make a viable future? Live music rather than cd's, and everyone who can play, playing for others.

Money being a medium of exchange and not a minor demigod.

Governments that care about more than their own longevity.

Health more important than wealth.

People more important than profit.

Thanks for writing.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for your feedback, Anton!

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

I would have liked to live in the time that Jesus was in earth.

Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 5 years ago from Isle of Man

A wonderful trip down memory lane and we should count ourselves lucky to have experienced these times. The music was the best and the feeling of those times is always in our hearts. Nobody can take that away. Thank you.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for your comments, Cardisa and Spirit Whisperer!

Angie Jardine profile image

Angie Jardine 5 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

Good hub, Bard ... brings it all back. Loved Jethro Tull especially this track ... and yes, I too remember those days well.

I really get depressed at the over-abundance of choice we have now in supermarkets and so make a conscious effort to support small shops and farmer's markets.

I think our generation has to really stand up and be counted - even as armchair activists - we have to educate the young so that the tab they will have to pick up when we are gone is not so overwhelming.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks, Angie! What depresses is that that the "abundance of choice" often boils down to lack of much choice if you want good quality and you don't want additives in the foods or products. I mean I could go in a supermarket and find the yogurts and there would be loads of types but if I tried to find one without aspartame, GE maize flour or simply loads of sugar then it becomes more difficult. I go to the toothpaste counter and yes there's lots of brands perhaps but if I don't want fluoride then I might be out of luck. Over here I have problems finding wholemeal and brown bread that hasn't got soya flour in it. If you are fussy about what you are actually getting and read labels then the large choice ends up not being as good.

E.M. Hughes profile image

E.M. Hughes 5 years ago from Kentucky

Oh to go back!! I really enjoyed your hub! Would love to be able to go back to a simpler, safer time! Not only for myself, but for the sake of my children as well!

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your comments, E.M.!

Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Still have our vinyl collection and play them regularly too even though we have hundreds od CD's. As for today's product not being made to last or needing extras like the watch batteries, that is simply a way to take more money from our pockets. And yes they were much safer times, we didn't fear opening the door or letting our children go off on adventures. And if they got into trouble, a clip around the ear from the local bobby made them think twice about doing whatever again.

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Excellent hub, Bard-Of-Ely. Well done and fun to read and reminisce. I have first-hand knowledge of those times, by the way. I remember both the good stuff & less-than-good stuff.

"Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle."

— Abraham Lincoln

I've lived through 8 decades and, yes, there were some preferable conditions then, but those were built by the hustlers-for-good conditions at the time. The less desirable conditions of those times were also being hustled or built in that time by those in it who reneged or worked for other motives, so failing to bring "good character" to it, so allowing less-than-good conditions to fill a void, which, of course is what happened in greater numbers than the hustlers could out-distance - and that led to NOW. Nothing "given" now is different as far as the people living it are concerned. What we honestly prefer and desire, we must hustle to produce or else accept and allow other inherited & newly allowed stuff to take over.

The new developments bring greater responsibility for using them for betterment. Our marvelous electronics and other means of mimicking and communicating also bring dangers of quicker explosions of violence and frustrations engendered between haves and have-nots with easier means of instant expressing them. But is is always PEOPLE who make the difference in how new advantages are applied. Those times you mention were also challenged with using the new communication and mobility advantages, the expansion of the Industrial Revolution, etc. Results were two major World Wars, atrocities, a Great Depression, many continuing wars around the globe - and leading to the present state of affairs. The nature and character of the players - the people then living - are where the buck must and can stop. There's the rub.

BUT - You've reminded me how much I'd love to be able to time-travel and visit in both past and future eras, to experience how it was and will be. Previewing the future could allow us to do our bit to make it desirable and as someone wise said - being aware of history could prevent its repetition.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you for your thoughts on this, Rosemay50 and Nellieanna! One very big difference I see is that there were so many types of wildlife doing well in the past and many are now disappearing or extinct! Some like the European Eel I would never thought could become an endangered species!

Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 5 years ago from TEXAS

Oh, yes, Bard. Helpless animals are the victims of the general growing oblivion of people and of consequences of each of their/our everyday acts or non-acts. These are only some of many sad developments now.

My point was that how it IS in any time frame always boils down to and depends on the people living it, of whom we are all a small amount of the total population - but each of us IS one and there are no more than multiples of one doing all that is being done. I think that your writing about this is being ONE in a positive action. Good for you!

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thank you again!

BukowskiBabe profile image

BukowskiBabe 5 years ago from Somewhere in the middle of it all.

I agree. I too long for the simplicity of the past. I wish I could take 2011 dollars with me to 1967, and buy land in Topanga Canyon overlooking PCH and the Pacific. As for records, I remember the way the record stores smelled..the beautiful artwork on the covers. Those were the days.I was young but would ride my bike to the record store and browse through the stacks...then go get a cherry coke and taquitos at a little independent joint..not some mass marketed chain. Things sure have changed.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Yes, it really was so much better then I believe! I wish a lot of us who want to live in the past could go back there and then stop time so the world would not get into the horrible mess it is in now!

Bud Gallant profile image

Bud Gallant 5 years ago from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

I agree that in the past things sure seemed a lot better and simpler. I do enjoy some of the technology of the present, though, as it allows for people to communicate across boundaries that would have prevented that. Take this hub for example. :)

I've noticed the same about the water fountains. Definitely seems like that is a thing of the past. In the future, perhaps we'll have coin-operated Coke fountains. Seems like there would be a market for that.

The point about toxins is well made too. We're getting more poisoned than ever, but luckily those who are in-the-know have many easy to find alternatives now due to niche markets online. You can order some very good, natural products with ease these days, if you know what to look for.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Yes, I enjoy some of the technology too but would still prefer to be in a safer and healthier world that we had before it! Thanks for your comments, Bud!

ruffridyer 5 years ago from Dayton, ohio

I remember watching "Happy Days" on t.v. Such a wonderfull time the 50's. Except for the jim crow laws. Black people in the south were hung quite frequently.

There were also diseases with no cure and many crimes could be gotten away with with less technology to solve them.

A husband could beat his wife and not face judgment. A drunk driver could kill a pedustrian and get off with a fine because it was an accident. Then he or she could continue driving and possibly kill someone else.

I guess my point is every generation has problems. There is no "Golden Age"' lurking in the past. Pandora's Box has been open since Adam & Eve.

I do, however understand what you are saying. Some things seemed to be better in the past.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 5 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

Thanks for your comments!

GetitScene profile image

GetitScene 3 years ago from The High Seas

Jethro Tull has a sacred place on my ipod.

Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 3 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal Author

I am glad to hear it!

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