- CAT STEVENS
Moving From Inward To
- Hit Parade March 1972
- Written by Roy Carr
Recording, said Cat
Stevens, has "become something of a fixation with me. I want to fulfill my
So theres no relaxing
for Mr. Stevens who already has three albums finished and his head full of songs for
a fourth album. (Actually there is a fourth album out already, a bootleg, something that
Cot considers a drag because he wanted Album No.4 to be live. "Id perform some
unrecorded material but a bootleg could spoil that for me," he said).
I queried how long an
official Cat Stevens album takes to put together. "Usually about two months on and
off, then another month for mixing, reducing and other little touches. I never have an
abundance of material, usually about 15 songs in all, in my head. When I go into the
studio I lust see whats nice for that particular day," he replied.
"I find this is the
best way because if youre using session men youre pretty well tied down and it
can be a hang up If you dont fancy doing a particular song on that particular day.
You know, the best laid plans.. .This way we can stay pretty loose."
Revealing the benefits of
the Stevens Recording Plan, Cat took one particular track, "Peacetrain."
Said he: "We found
that song hard to record. In fact we tried without any success to record it on three
different occasions. In the end we did a track-by-track and by some freak we got a live
feel to it. It shouldnt have happened but somehow it did."
Cat, without any conceit,
admits that he can listen to his current records and gain a great deal of happiness from
them. But the old Cat Stevens -- Pop Star, thats an old wrapped up box pushed away
in the corner, although he still has fond associations for "I Love My Dog"
performing it when the spirit moves him.
"I cant make out
like the other never happened, because it did. But its more like an old jacket which
you thought was great at the time and today its lust a memory."
Of his records, "Mona
Bone Jakon" and "Tea For The Tillerman" were to use Cats term---
"inward" with "Teaser And The Fire Cat" he has reversed the role:
"Now Im thinking outward I feel like I want to help more, simply because people
are helping me. I want to help others by my own experiences. I dont want to lay any
heavy idea on anyone. No matter how much good advice I get I still have to go through it
"For me there are no
"Thats why I
couldnt sing other peoples songs. I had to write my own."
There is also -- apart from
the writer/performer -- Cat Stevens the accomplished artist, his artwork having graced the
covers of his three albums. The central character of his new album, "Teaser And The
Fire Cat" will possibly emerge as animated cartoon personalities. "Though I
dont make money from it, I nevertheless take art quite seriously," admitted
Cat. "It helps to extend my ideas a step further, which I hope is going to lead me
Despite the fact that several
film people are bidding for Cat Stevens in his first acting role, hes keeping them
at arms length.
He explained: "Your
timing is always right and youve got to follow your instincts. When you are doing
things right you are aware of it and this gives you the confidence you need. You must
always remember this -- whereas other peoples timing can be wrong. Im not
letting my common sense be blinded by the film opportunities."
Or by over-exposure which
can turn into overkill. Or by the superstar tag. He does admit that he is genuinely
frightened of becoming an unwilling victim of the superficial, superstar syndrome.
Says he: "The secret
is to keep away, well away, from the larger venues because in these places it is so very
easy to lose contact with your audience. I insist on playing halls that hold no more than
5000 people. Frankly Id rather do two shows a night in a smaller hall than one a
night In a larger venue.
"If you play Madison
Square Garden as a soloist then youve had it." (Stephen Stills and James
Taylor please note!) Continued Cat: "I suppose the trouble with America is that
youre either a superstar or youre nothing and youre expected to play the
large auditoriums. But it can easily get out of hand and become quite frightening."
Cat rejects, totally
rejects, the term Superstar, considering it destructive: "There are people all around
making good music who arent what people insist on calling a superstar."