Whats he really
like? Is he as unco-operative as were led to believe? Is he a total introvert? What
does he eat? What does he wear?
Ive been back in
Australia a mere 24 hours, but it seems 90% of my time has been spent answering endless
queries about a certain Mr. Cat Stevens.
Back in London, the great
wad of press cuttings received each Monday, gave some indication of the
singer/songwriters popularity Down Under, but I could never have been prepared for
the barrage of questions that greeted me on my arrival. The cat, himself, has little or no
conception that he is some sort of Pop Messiah here and, if he did, Im sure
hed be more than a little terrified.
I guess Cat Stevens is a
success more by accident than design though he is undoubtedly an ambitious young
man. However, like the James Taylors, Joni Mitchells, CSN&Ys etc, he has always
been elusive as regards press, television and radio. Hard-core media people all over the
world often complain about The Cat's reluctance to talk about himself and generally
believe he owes it to them because they assisted him in the past.
This is an argument that
holds little water as Cat Stevens has rarely used media as his means to reach the public.
As has happened so many times in the past, the media people simply jumped on the bandwagon
after Cats records were selling in the hundreds of thousands, witness the fact he
has never been extensively promoted in Australia where, on a population basis, he has had
more success than anywhere else in the world. At this stage, 23 Gold Albums are waiting
for him at Festival Records in Sydney.
As I pointed out in my
Go-Set interview two weeks back, Cat Stevens believes "words take you nowhere"
and he elaborates on this:
"When I do an
interview, Im never satisfied. There are always things I wish I had said".
Conversely, in his songs,
Cat can crystallise any chosen situation and make you wish youd thought of
expressing yourself as eloquently. Most of all, his lyrics closely deflect the ideology of
millions of young-thinking people in the world today. We can so easily identify with
"Father And Son", "Where Do The Children Play", "Peace
Train" or "If I Laugh". Within these songs lies the key to Cat
Stevens philosophy, both theoretical and practical.
On the other hand, there
are more abstract pieces which capture the mystique of Cat Stevens. Songs like "Into
White", "The Wind" and "Lilywhite". Yet whatever you read into
these songs is fine. Interpret them as you wish and put, a little of yourself into them.
Cat Stevens has done this
with the hymn "Morning Has Broken" the only song he has recorded which he
hasnt written ("Portobello Road" from his early days was written in
collaboration with Kim Fowley"). For the word "recreation", he has
substituted "recreation". Whereas the former means creating afresh, the latter
infers some sort of folly. That is how Cat Stevens views Gods role in our universe.
He feels we and the world we live in are the result of Gods recreation:
"I have made it my
song," he told me. "As you can separate my musical philosophy from the way I
live," is how he puts it.
While he is almost
embarrassingly "open" in many tunes "Lady DArbanville" for
example he still holds back just enough to keep you wondering; eager to discover
more; anxious for the next album to be released. In my own case, I found him much more
considerate and fiery than the business people surrounding him had led me to believe. In
fact, it took three sedatives to put me in a frame of mind where I was able to talk to him
at all. Of course, I should have remembered the words of praise lavished on him by those
closest to him; lovely people from the Cat family. like Alun Davies and Del Newman.
It was Alun who helped the
interview atmosphere tremendously by going to Steve, unsolicited, and saying some very
nice things about me. This resulted in Steves secretary phoning the next day to save
Steve suggested I go to his home instead of the recording studio to do the interview. As
you can imagine, Steve has made a good deal of money in the past couple of years, yet he
chooses to live very simply. His house is just another semi-detached in the working-class
suburb of Fulham. He asks if youd like tea and wanders into the kitchen to boil the
kettle on the floor. If he senses youre a little ill at ease in his territory (I
never feel quite at home at someone elses place unless Ive known them for
ages), he suggests a walk in the fresh air. If he thinks youre paranoid about doing
the interview (and you are because you actually think hes right not to talk to the
press) he remarks: "Michele. Im speaking to you with affection don't
worry. Im enjoying the questions keep asking them. Im sure you know a
great deal more about me."
Of course I do, but I
explained I didnt want to pry too deeply. It must be slightly disconcerting to have
someone read you like a book on first meeting. You see. Cat Stevens takes his time getting
to know and trust people an admirable trait, I have to admit, and one I endeavour
to possess myself. Because of this and the fact I am female rather than male (making him
slightly more wary) Ive learnt very little about the man from my encounter with him.
Being on tour will
possibly decide whether or not we are meant to be friends. Either way, my life is richer
by far since I discovered Cat Steven. For that, I'll be forever grateful.
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Site Creator - Christine Chenevey
Special Thanks To: Jill Mallow,
*Keith Balaam, George Brown, Linda Crafar, Bruce Lawrie, DJ Illingworth, Gerardo Roman,
Chris & Annie Abrams, Patricia Squillari, Harry Schmieder, Sue Vukson and all who have
contributed either with material or support to help make Majicat magical.
* This site is dedicated in the
memory of Keith Balaam. ---<----<----@