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Creem Magazine - September, 1971 Page 20,74,75
By Michelle Straubing
Cat Stevens
But Does He Still Love His Dog?

 CREEM1.jpg (26547 bytes)


                               'Yes I'm going to be a pop star
                                      Yes I'm going to be a pop star now
                               Yes I'm going to be a pop star
                                      Oh mama, mama see me,
                                mama mama see me, I'm a pop star
                                      Yes I'm going to my first gig
                                Yes I'm going to my first gig
                                       Yes I'm going to my first gig
                                Oh mama mama see me,
                                       see me at my first gig'

Such were the feelings of one Stephen Dimitri Georgiou when he first picked up a guitar at the ripe age of 13 and proceeded to write his first song 'Darling, No'. During the next two years he learned to master the guitar andmaster five more songs.Before long, he and his brother began making the rounds of the record companies until he was finally " discovered" by Mike Hurst who produced his first single, ' I Love My Dog'.

The Record was a smash, making Cat an instant sensation. He went on to write more hits like 'I'm Gonna get me A Gun',' Mathew & Son', and 'Here Come My Baby'. But life in the pop world was not an easy one for a naive boy of 18, and it wasn't long before the pressures- both emotional (record company execs pushing to the limit and then some) and physical (ill health in the form of tuberculosis ) became unbearable.

                               ' Yes well, I'm going to the cold bank
                                         cold bank now
                                 Yes I'm going to the cold bank
                                         Oh mama, mama see me
                                 mama mama see me at the cold bank'

So Cat disappeared from the music scene as completely and suddenly as he had appeared to recuperate for two years.

                                     Well I'm coming home now
                                          coming home now
                                     Yes I'm coming coming
                                           coming home now
                                     Well mama mama see me
                                            mama mama see me, I'm home

Now in 1971 Cat has indeed come home - home to the pop world, a new pop world where he has the control he wants and deserves over his own creativity.

"It's great being back in the music business again. What I'm doing now is exactly what I've always wanted to do. I've just never managed to do it before. The only trouble is, before I was not in control or anything. This time I feel that I'm doing exactly the things that I want to do and the people around me are just great people. There's no ego trips this time".

He is also in no danger if being pressured - either to do too many performances in one night, to write for someone else ( he wrote "here Comes my Baby" for the Tremolos) , or to write with someone else ( he oncecollaborated with Kim Fowley).

Relating back to hid early writing experiences, Cat recalls, " I was trying to get my songs placed with artist about four of five years ago, I was with this really bad publishing company. They just used to sign up every song and not do a thing with it; you know , just keep you hanging around. They had quite a few writers there: Mark Werts and Kim Fowler and Elton was there too at a time. I just met Kim you know this mad guy right? He showed me all his lyrics and he said, " Do something. Can you do something with it? I said '

Sure" And I took these and worked on them and then played it to him and changed a few things around, and I did it on a B-side. A very simple song it was called Portebello Road."

Although Cat is fairly open minded about writing with someone again ('If it happens, it happens, but I am not really thinking about it.'), he isn't all that keen on writing for someone again. "I don't think I can write can. I tried that once and I think I can only write for myself basically. If someone feeling are the same regarding doing someone else's material. " I'm very strange about that because ever since I played guitar I've never sung anybody else's song's. I mean, of course I started in the beginning trying to, but it never worked out because I didn't do it so well, so I thought, ' To hell with it, I'll write my own. ' So I've never really sung anybody else's. I've sung this hymn song for the next LP, which I really like. It's and old Welsh melody and it's just beautiful. I just fell in love with the melody. I suppose it's the first one."

Anyone listening to the songs that Cat writes is well aware that they all stem from deeply personal experiences some more obviously so then others.

" I think 'Sad Lisa' reflects me very much. I say it's Lisa but I suppose basically I'm talking about my self on that one. It's very close to it. 'Into White' is when I'm in my very naive child-like state where I just let anything come into my head and let it out. 'Hard headed Woman' is a strange one. I don't really know who a hard headed woman really is. I'll find out one day. It's weird. I mean, most of my songs I just let them come and figure them out later.

"You see for me writing is an experience and it's a discovery. Each time I get into song writing-each time it's different. I mean it has to be otherwise I get bored. Otherwise I don't want to do it.There's no use in it. So each time I just twist it around all the time. You know , I getinspirations from the maddest things. It may start with one word and then a melody with that one word. And then it may go on from there . Or else I'll get a melody or else I'll just write a few chords and then I'll put a tune on top of it. But , for me, it has to change all the time. I don't writing two of the same style. That was a drag about the old time: they always kept telling me that I had to do another 'Matthew & Son' which is completely ---- I couldn't believe, I mean , how could you do that? I'm always into those change thing. You really learn so much each  second you grow up gigantically. It'sCreem2.jpg (5832 bytes) incredible."

Cat feels that his Greek musical background ( his father was Greek) has been a heavy influence on his music.

'It's only lately that I realized how subconsciously my work has always been affected by the forms of Greek music. You see, I get such a feeling just listening to Greek music' Cause that was my fathers trip. It's just natural. My half-brother from my fathers first marriage, George, he really use to play the bazooka. He was one of the first bazooka to come to London and play the clubs about 14 years ago. I used to go and listen to him. That was really, I think, one of the beginnings of music for me listening to that and the kind of timing they have. It's natural to me to change the timing of the song half way through, you know, and just out of beat or whatever which technically doesn't flow, but to it does.. Like in the middle of a song, if I suddenly stop playing, you know, that's the same for to me. Maybe I'm kidding myself, maybe it's not at all. I use silence, I think quite a lot. I like to hold silence for a bit and make it something else."

Although Cat feels that Greek music has influenced his style, there are other influences present in his music that are perhaps due to the type of music he listens to today.

'I love folk music, European, Old Russian, Greek. I like Classical, I like electronic - I don't listen to that much, but when I go to sleep sometimes I just put on a weird kind of- well it might be Stockhauser you know, just voices. I'll listen to that and go to sleep or I'll wake up to Bach or something like that. I don't play that many records, though I am aware of course, of what people are doing, possibly because there was a time when I just wouldn't listen to any records at all; very stuck up about it all, you know, just dig my own music and that's it. But I do dig a lot of music, I mean I can't saturate myself with other people's music too much because I'd lose my identity, so I take things that can transcend me into my own world."

What does his own world consist of? Mostly seeking, discovering and finding things out for himself.

" I don't read very much.  I searched myself a long time ago about reading. It was partly laziness.  I said to myself that I'd rather live and find out from my own experiences what is going to happen and what it's all about for me rather than take it from a book of someone else's.   You can only light the way, but you can't walk or show someone how to walk on it.   That's why I just started to do it all myself and figure it out myself for me.   That's the joy of living: finding out."
                           There's so much left to know
                               and I'm on the road to find out.
                           Then I found my head one day
                               when I wasn't even trying,
                           and here I have to say 'cause there
                               is no use in lying, lying.
                           Yes the answer lies within,
                                so why not take a look now....

" I use to meditate, but I don't do it anymore. It was just a starting off for me.  But now I find I'm constantly aware of just ... I don't know how to put it now, 'cause when you meditate you can't really think of anything anyway.  It's not anything you say.   It's just that point that you reach.  Nothing else really matters, you know, except this one thing.  I mean like now it just comes anytime and it comes a bit when I'm working, you know, on stage.  It's very weird 'cause I kind of jump out of my skin and kind of look at myself and it's very weird.

" Now my basic philosophy is truth, that's all.  I mean that runs through everything, you know;   never underestimate anything or anybody from a rock to an elephant, anything.   Don't take it for granted.  That's what a lot of people do like they take cheese for granted, but think about it - if you think, everything is just incredible.   Then that should shouldn't get complicated, you shouldn't think of everything as being incredible, just accept it...."

                           Lord my body has been a good friend
                           but I won't need it when I reach the end

" I wouldn't say I believe in reincarnation or coming back - but just a bashing about.  I believe in a physical wall if you like.  If you don't have the right answer when you get to this wall, you'll be bounced back again,

you know.  If you don't know what the wall is, you can see the wall but you can't see over the top of it.  And if you really see the top of it and then look over you see the whole wall and the wall disappears and you can go through.  But there's a definite kind of spectrum...I mean just keeping on being human and everything is a struggle for a start.   I still think I've got a long way to go - a long matter of lifetimes, I think."

In between writing songs and philosophizing, Cat spends his time painting. As a matter of fact, there was a time in his life when he thought he would be a painter until he bought his first guitar.

But even though music is now taking up much of his time, he has not let it interfere with his artwork as evidenced by the covers of his two albums.

" I think I'll be getting into my artwork again pretty soon, you know I'll take a bit of time off to do some.

"As for the album covers, Mona Bone Jakon just came about naturally. They said have you got any ideas, we'd be happy to use them.  I said why not one of my paintings.  You might be able to use them.

" I suppose the garbage can was just illogical.  I was trying to fight offthe old image, if you like and just put a garbage can on there and let people work it out for themselves, you know.   So that was basically it.  I was being a bit sneaky! I like garbage cans, I mean nobody thinks about garbage cans, so why not.  It's a lonesome garbage can.

" I'll also be doing the cover for the new album, but I don't think the painting will be on the front - we may put a painting on the back.

"Once again, each one was done differently.  On Mona Bone Jakon we already had the garbage can; I did Tea for the Tillerman when I knew that that song was going to be on it; and the painting for the new one, I just got the mood of the album and put it down."Creem4.jpg (1888 bytes)

Now that Cat is proving himself as an artist and composer, many people are asking him to branch out onto the movie field.  And Cat himself has a couple of ideas about other ways in which he would like to express himself in the future.

" I'm doing the score for a film 'Harold & Maude', about San Francisco. It'll be finished about the end of June when I can start working on the music.

" But I'd also like to do a film of my own because it's hard to write for someone else.  It's a strange thing, either you do the whole firm yourself or you can't really have that much control over it - the vision;s already there.  But I just love the idea of visual and music because it brings a spark to it .  You can have the most diabolically boring piece of film and the same kind of music and when you put them together you get something else - friction and a kind of movement, show and time and everything.  It suddenly gives it more of a whole, you know, a roundness.  Whereas just music on it's own or just visual on its own doesn't work.  It fits together so perfectly.

" I've got ideas for my own film, but I'm going to think it over first before I say anything 'cause I'll most likely change my mind.  That's one thing I must admit I do do.  I change my mind an awful lot.  I can be inspired about something and then I look really into it and I say well, no, that's wrong and I'll change my mind on that.   Most of the time I go back to the first idea.  I know that and I know that when I start out.  But I still enjoy going around it so I can see all sides before I do it.

" I've also got ideas of just doing loads of drawings and perhaps putting it together as a children's book.  I mean it's not set or anything.  It might happen.  I'm also thinking about making a film for children: I don't know if that will come off."

                             Oh I'm going to be a pop star
                             Yes I'm going to be a pop star


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