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I raise my hand and touch the wheel of change
taking time to check the dial

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Record Mirror
Saturday October 12, 1968
Courtesy of Linda Crafar.

Rec1068.jpg (20298 bytes)Cat's Back

By Derek Boltwood


Cats back. Dogs and Matthew and his offspring and guns and things and now his wife. Not that he has a wife — but here she comes anyway because "Here Comes My Wife" is his latest record. I should say his latest hit record because that’s what it’s going to be, to put Cat right back at the top again after his nine-month lay off.

Coughing and spluttering a bit, and the doctor said it was TB. So off to the hospital for a few weeks' treatment and then a nice long rest in the country. That was so long ago, and not even a record to remind everyone of his existence.

Not that Cat really wanted to remind anyone — he was having a quiet time recovering and getting things together again. And now he returns accompanied by the 1812 Overture to signify his arrival.

"It was all very sudden, my illness," said Cat (we were having a quiet chat over a quiet drink in a not-so-quiet pub). "I was rushed off to hospital and kept there for a few weeks. But I had a long convalescence out in the country — took things very quietly — and it gave me plenty of time to think. It was great being out of the pop business for a while. Just relaxing and being among ordinary people who have nothing whatsoever to do with pop. "It meant I could look at myself objectively — from outside of myself. In fact I discovered a lot about Cat Stevens the pop singer. For example I always thought I had a very different image to the one I actually had — apparently people thought of me as a manufactured "star". Whereas I was always under the impression that I'd made it on my own merits rather than because of any big publicity push or something. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, I did — but that’s not the sort of image I have. But this image thing is strange — apparently I'm considered to be a bit underground on the West Coast of America. A sort of Tim Hardin figure they’ve suddenly discovered."

"Since that long lay-off though, I think I’ve become more myself — it was the first time since I started that I’d been away from the pop scene and wasn’t involved in the big hustle. I did a lot of writing, and some painting, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. In fact I’m determined to start painting again seriously now —I’ve got a very good artist working at the moment redecorating my flat, and seeing him work has inspired me even more. He’s turning the whole flat into a "piece of sculpture", where everything relates to everything else. The bed is part of the cupboard and the cupboard is part of the wall, and so on. I'm not having any corners in the place at all — I don’t like corners. They’re not natural — they’re entirely man-made. You look at anything in nature — there just aren’t any corners. Man invented corners, by cutting things away, or putting things together — and I think it’s an unfortunate invention. You can hurt yourself on corners. They’re vicious things. So I’m not having any corners in my house!"

"But the convalescence thing came to an end when I was in Venice — having a bit of a holiday. I got a phone call from my doctor in London saying the X-rays were fine. I was perfectly healthy once more, and I could go back to work. So I flew back, and started to get things together again. I wrote ‘Here Comes My Wife’ during the lay off. I’m not. married of course — but the song reflects my thoughts on marriage. It’s very personal, and only my point of view. There was a girl I once knew whom I came very close to marrying I suppose — but I backed out. The problem is that when you get married the idea is to ‘become one with your ‘partner’ — l think that’s probably the only way a marriage will work. But to do that means losing your identity. I think of myself as an individual, and at the moment I couldn’t think of sharing my life with anyone. I suppose I could get married by the time I was 30 — but by then marriage will be a completely different thing. Perhaps you’ll be able to get married for a year with an option on a further two — just to see how things work out. That’s how it should be, anyway."

"A lot of the songs I wrote during my convalescence will be going on the album. I think they’re much simpler, and a lot more personal perhaps, than what I was doing before. But they’re still in the same style — which isn’t really surprising as it’s the same person who’s writing them! I tried to change my style, but couldn’t — I think it’s good to have a style of one’s own, though, rather than doing something completely different each time. It’s funny, though, because a review of "Here Comes My Wife" in one of the pop papers said that it sounded a bit dated, and so didn’t stand much of a chance of being a hit. But if you look at a lot of records in the charts, they have a sort of dated feel about them. It’s not that they’re particularly old-fashioned — I think pop music is tending to get a bit simpler now than it has been for a few months, and perhaps on first hearing, a lot of it does sound a bit dated. But although they’re less complicated, I think there’s a lot more to a lot of the songs around now."

I’ve always liked Cat Stevens’ songs. In fact I like "Here Comes My Wife". In fact it’s going to be a hit. In fact, as a matter of fact, it’s a certain fact.

Cat Stevens drew this cartoon of himself, a composite parody of his stay in the hospital. It is very hard to draw yourself. Ever tried it? We think Cat's done a good job!

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