Est. 1999

logomaji1.gif (23692 bytes)

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

                                                                      Home      Articles     Messageboard  

Rock Magazine article from November 8, 1971


Rock1173.jpg (16233 bytes)






Cat Stevens, poetic troubador and simple superstar, has reached that stage of life which permits a man and an artist to look back and reflect on the meaning of what has gone down and contemplate the prospects of what is yet to be. With the release of his third album, Teaser And The Firecat following the extraordinarily successful Tea For The Tillerman, Stevens is riding the crest of good fortune after knowing times filled with disillusionment and despair.

In spite of his stature as one of the most talented and popular male soloists on both sides of the ocean, Cat is aware of the unpredictable nature of public taste and creative productivity, and he has achieved the kind of inner peace that allows him to calmly enjoy the present without suffering anxiety over the future.

"I really believe that nobody gets more than their share of anything, and that includes life. You can’t say ‘he died too young’ - because it’s ridiculous. He died when he died. I believe that if I concentrate and keep my mind and energy where It should go I can’t burn out. I’ll-retain my velocity. Personally, the answer is to know when your ‘thing’—your Karma or whatever—is being influenced by other people around you. The whole problem with people leading this kind of life is that suddenly they find they can’t guide themselves any longer and get so caught up with other people they lose their sense of their own destiny.

"In my own case, the only real problems I have are that in using my energy so much to go further I forget about now. When you’re playing with3,000 people watching, you do get their energy and the faith to go on and give a good show, and because of that you offer everything you have to give."

The ability to give of himself did not come to Stevens overnight. He had to pay some heavy dues in order to unlock himself and free his music.

"The greatest thing that happened to me was when I realized I wasn’t the only person in the world. The thing I. really wanted to do was to understand people and to put myself second. Then I realized that the only way to do that was to understand myself and then other people would understand me.

"That was when I went into the hospital. I was thinking, ‘there must be lots of people in this hospital worse off than me.’ Then I didn’t want anyone to visit me, which I couldn’t understand, because there I was completely helpless but I didn’t see why anybody should come and see me In that predicament, which really wasn’t right because I really wanted visitors very much."

Cat has since come to discover that his music provides a very satisfying means of communicating with people, especially those people he most wants to reach. He speaks with particular fondness about his relationship with American audiences, established mainly on college campuses and large clubs.

"They’re tremendously into lyrics. I get these fantastic letters, some of them just say ‘I don’t want any reply to this letter, I just wanted to tell you that what you’re doing is great and I understand it.’ And that’s the greatest because it shows there’s a certain amount of people that understand and agree with me.

"And it’s funny because I always used to be very jealous of colleges and students, because I never went to college and I was always suffering from that complex that I was a stifled and put down intellectual.

"I think some of the kids that understand me had a strange upbringing, came from a broken family like I did, and I must express that in my lyrics.

Also I have a certain yearning for a life —that hasn’t been yet experienced—a simpler form of life."

Cat’s lyrics are inspired, as he says, by simple, everyday things in life. He feels he is striving to be as honest as he can without being too open:

"It would really bore me to tears to talk about myself totally within a song. I have to entertain myself as much as anyone else. I suppose you could say I’m my own favorite artist if you like, and I have to think like that. I have to listen to a song and gain something more from it than is originally laid down. My attitude to music is the same as my philosophy to religion—I’ll listen to all sides before making a judgment, my own personal viewpoint. And in both I still have the ability to be wrong. Basically, we’re all wrong and everyone should realize that."

What then is his judgment on current music—on the shift away from complication to personal statement. From hard rock to ecology. From groups to soloists?

" I think music at the moment is going through a mediocre stage. I don’t mean mediocre in the bad sense of the word but simply that it is no longer confusing. It’s now the complete expression of an artist that is becoming the medium, a period where Carole King emerges because she’s beautiful but very plain and simple lyrically. Where James Taylor becomes huge even though his voice isn’t anything ultra-extraordinary. Where Joni Mitchell and all these people can simply express themselves. So that instead of the music holding them up, they hold the music up.

"Yes, I am doing the same thing myself. But it’s exactly the way I feel comfortable, it’s the only way I can do it at the moment. I mean there was a stage when I’d have loved to play 64 semi-demi quavers in one bar on a guitar. At the time when the main feat was to be as fast, slick and technical as possible. But now I’ve found I can create the same feeling in a song on one chord."

Cat left a big gap between recording his latest album and Tea For The Tillerman. This was mainly because he was deciding in which direction he should go, and deciding to incorporate electric bass rather than string, and even deciding to get more into a rhythmic pattern.

" After Tea For The Tillerman I started touring and after doing live things I began to appreciate what the people were actually like, and I realized I needed to get as much expression as possible into things."

Cat is very pleased with his new album, for which he did the cover painting. He’ll probably continue the theme of Teaser And The Firecat ("Teaser" refers to himself) as a children’s book which he’s written and illustrated himself.

"It’s an amazing feeling; I don’t feel complete in either field, and if your mind is on two separate things then it’s not so forceful as if it was solely on one. If I just concentrated on making shoes then I’d be a great shoemaker. You know, sometimes I can see my success, or whatever you want to call it, growing to the point where perhaps I might forget exactly where I am and exactly why I’m there."

This site is best viewed on "800 x 600" screen resolution.
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. ---<----<----@