The Witch’s Promise is a single, released in January 1970, on the Chrysalis label. It reached No. 4 in the UK Singles Chart, and was promoted by an appearance on the British chart show Top of the Pops. The B-side was “Teacher.” Both songs later appeared on the 2001 US release of the album Benefit as a bonus track on the Reprise label.
The song was recorded at Morgan Studios, London on December 19, 1969. It was intended to be a follow-up to the group’s two previous singles, “Living in the Past” and “Sweet Dream”, which had been top ten hits. Musically, it developed from the style heard on the group’s previous album, Stand Up, discarding the blues influences that the band had started with, and steered towards folk.
The single was the first recording to feature keyboardist John Evan, who would be a key member of Jethro Tull throughout the 1970s. He was sharing a flat with frontman Ian Anderson at the time, and agreed to perform as a session musician. This led to an offer to join the band full-time. The track is one of the few recorded by Jethro Tull to feature the Mellotron, a tape replay keyboard that could emulate a string section, and the only single released by the band to feature the instrument.
“The Witch’s Promise” was intended to be the last standalone single from the group, that was not taken from an LP. Anderson said the group would issue singles from future albums in order to gain radio play, but he was not particularly interested in promoting them. In addition to being a bonus track on the 2001 reissure, it appeared on both the UK and US version of the compilation album Living in the Past (1972.)
Lend me your ear while i call you a fool.
You were kissed by a witch one night in the wood,
And later insisted your feelings were true.
The witch’s promise was coming,
Believing he listened while laughing you flew.
Leaves falling red, yellow, brown, all are the same,
And the love you have found lay outside in the rain.
Washed clean by the water but nursing its pain.
The witch’s promise was coming, and you’re looking
Elsewhere for your own selfish gain.
Keep looking, keep looking for somewhere to be,
Well, you’re wasting your time, they’re not stupid like he is.
Meanwhile leaves are still falling, you’re too blind to see.
You won’t find it easy now, it’s only fair.
He was willing to give to you, you didn’t care.
You’re waiting for more but you’ve already had your share.
The witch’s promise is turning, so don’t you wait up
For him, he’s going to be late.
Songwriter: Ian Anderson