- Record Mirror
- April 6th, 1974
- Courtesy of Linda Crafar
I Can't Explain
There we all were in Cat
Stevens house, a little Japan in Fulham, gathered en masse at yet another one of
those debacles that masquerade as Press conferences. This time it was in honour of the
gorgeous Steve Georgiou, better known as Cat Stevens. The reception room was crammed with
people milling about and getting nowhere. As time went by a general feeling of boredom had
set in with the non-arrival of Mr. Stevens our enlightener.
"If worse comes to the
worse," a voice was heard to remark, "we can always interview each other!"
The more aggressive strains
of Buddha And The Chocolate Box had long since died, to be replaced by a prominent bass
tone which was muffled by the sunburnt carpet. Eventually, on Cats arrival, we were
invited to sit around a well (just one of the many curious features within his abode).
Having declared that due to the delay, everyone had forgotten their questions it was a
Rolling Stone correspondent who took the incentive with the first and obvious question.
What had inspired Cat to call his new album Buddha And The Chocolate Box?
"It happened during a
flight from Japan, and I had with me that Buddah," he points at a statuette on his
right, "and a chocolate box. I suddenly realised they were the only possessions I had
with me at the time. And if I had died or anything had happened, there would have been the
Buddah and the box. I was trying to find a significance and I realised that that was the
significance that was all that needed to be known. If you study something for long
enough you can be enlightened by it. Just as the boy found enlightenment from a chocolate
box, if you screw up a piece of paper, youll find all of life in that piece of paper
without having to move,"
The new album unlike
Foreigner his previous album, suggests a basic simplicity. Would he return much more to
this form of music?
"I think its the
same as going away for a while and people want to hear from you. The thing is Im not
going too far out of reach I dont want to ever do that. I want to be here for
everyone who wants to relate to me So Foreigner was enough for that time, but I had to
come back and say Im still here you dont have to worry about it"
Nevertheless, how many Cat
Stevens loyalists had worried about it? And how many had become confused and bitterly
disappointed after having listened again and again in the hope of finding some d the
lads unique qualities. Foreigner was a disaster.
Question: Was Foreigner a
"No," he was
emphatic. "absolutely not, and the best thing about it was that it was completely
unconscious. I dont think that you have to sit down and listen to it, its a
great one to have going. It was an important album to me. Before Foreigner I was planning
ahead and living almost two months ahead of what I was doing in my head. So Foreigner
brought me up to date and enabled me to start again, it was more or less a recycle."
Cat produced that album
himself. He explains the circumstances which brought his co-producer Paul Samwell-Smith
back for the Buddha album.
"We had reached the
stage where we were getting too familiar with each other he knew how l worked, and
I knew how he worked, there was no spark. So it was good to have a break from each other,
because when we did get together it created an excitement."
He appears to be turning
out albums at a faster rate than he used to, will it continue?
"I think it gets
faster, then it gets slower. The whole thing will even itself out to around one a year
that sounds nice to me. It takes a year to understand what youre doing
Not very many artistes have
the freedom of recording one album a year. Was it important that those terms be in his
he replied. I think that accounts for good quality. A load of people bring out
two albums, one might be good and one might not be what they want, but they have to bring
it out anyway, and thats terrible for music and for everybody."
Is he able to explain any
exterior influences on his music?
"I dont know how
my influences come about. I write Greeky stuff, I didnt live there yet I feel it.
Its the same as Russian Music which affects me very strongly. I dont know why,
theres no way of explaining it. They say that its going back. It could be a
relative lifetime backwards. French music for instance. I had a great affinity with the
French Revolution for some reason, I dont know why I could have been there. I
used to be so infatuated with the French Revolution. Also my nephews got exactly the
same thing, he cant say what it is its heredity."
His new single Oh Very
Young is a track taken from the new album. Does he concern himself with what comes off his
albums as singles?
"Ive always been
a bad picker of singles. Ive always tried to get the right one, one that I like and
also one that would be popular and sell. I picked Oh Very Young, but I used a lot of
people for that cos I loved that song, and I wanted the reaction from a lot of
people. Most of them went for that one, which was great, cos for me it was the best
How does he see singles; as
a means of promoting his album, or as an entity in their own right?
"Singles are an art
form in themselves. The Beatles proved that, and a lot of people are proving it all the
time. To have three minutes of pure you dont want to stop, you wanna hear it
again is an art form. An album is another art form, to have the ability to create
both is very lucky."
As far as touring is
concerned, live performances from Cat Stevens are few and far between especially
where Britain is concerned. He explains
"I live here, I
dont necessarily consider it work. I save it. I save it up for myself and for the
people who are going to see it."
What tempted his decision
to undertake his current British tour?
At the moment Im very happy, cos I think Ive got something I want to
play, like this album. I can almost pick any song from it and see it live, whereas with
Catch Bull I found it more difficult, because that was more of a record. The songs as such
were really built for that medium, so it was difficult to do them live. With this album
theyre songs that get me excited enough to go out sand sing them."
Cat says the hardest thing
for him is trying to explain to someone unfamiliar with his work, just what exactly he
explaining how your mother feels to you, or how sausages taste!"
Is there a sense of relief
to meet someone who has never heard of Cat Stevens?
"Oh yeah, I love it,
he says much to our amusement. "Its great. Ive always wanted to keep
Greece a place where nobody perhaps knew me, but It never happened, because they get so
patriotic knowing Im a bit Greek."
He has already bought some
land around Corrin where he intends building himself a house. Does he find Greece more
home than London?
"No, London is my home
now. But everybody needs a place in the sun and I wish I could bring some of it
back, but theres no way.
Is music important enough
to make his life?
Music involves so many things, whatever you are, you are. If I try to hide from myself
then one day I might say, I dont like myself, I dont like music. But I like
myself and I like music, cos music is the expression of man. Its mans
best side. To me love and music are the two things which stand man apart. I mean the idea
of love not just love, but the idea that you can love someone and not see them.