- September 2, 1972
- Courtesy of Linda Crafar
Ian Meldrum & Mitch talk
with Cat Stevens
Following Cats chaotic
arrival at Sydneys Mascot Airport he faced a press almost as hungry for information
as his fans. In this article he talks to Ian Meldrum about his songwriting.
I am only writing for
now, I dont get any benefit from writing a song, the instance I write a song I
dont get any benefit from it. How can I get any benefit from it? I can only do it by
releasing my song as my benefit.
Are you a fan of
Yeah. I like Elton.
Are you angry
Yeah. I was in the beginning. I was watching him and
I admired him so much in his music and I saw the way he was being mishandled by management
and everything to do around him he was being diverted from his actual musical form which
is fantastic. You can see what happened it went bang and it fell down again. Now he is
climbing up on his own speed.
What sort of
control do you have over your own staff?
Complete. I have read
some interviews that have been shown here. They are so old; theyre terrible.
Theyve obviously been misled by what Ive said. So now I am trying to control
the medium by which Im speaking. I do that on records by singing, by writing, by
partly producing and I do it with a cover to that extent, but when it comes to other
people looking at me Im lost, and obviously I have to try and regain it.
This only time
you are speaking to the press is this by choice?
Is there any
possibility that when you get to Brisbane and go down to Melbourne you will speak to the
Well I dont think
its my duty to just talk about myself. I think its my duty to sing.
Thats what the kids want. I dont think they can read anymore than the feeling
they get from me, they cant actually get a feeling from reading a newspaper, but
they can get a feeling from hearing it.
Does this make
you more nervous than singing?
Yes, of course. I love
singing but this makes me scared.
Steve, do you
get much time to paint?
Is there any
chance of an exhibition of your paintings?
I dont know about
that I just paint for purely selfish reasons.
Is it true you
like painting more than singing?
They combine. I see my
songs the same as I see and almost hear my painting.
Do you mistrust
the media at all?
Of course I do, because
there are so many angles. For a start a paper. Due to an economical thing, a paper has to
come out once a day or once a week, or monthly. It keeps up its paper thing. You have to
fill it up and so suddenly you just can't print one page and naturally if you do print it,
it's going to go up and down. And this is why I don't agree with putting out a record
every bla-bla and unless you have got something to show there is no reason showing it.
satisfied with the records you have released so far?
No, I am never
completely satisfied, by the time I've finished it I am slightly sick of it and
want to start the next one and I forget it.
Are you afraid
you are going to run out of material do you feel you have got much more left in?
Ive got life,
How much new
material is on the next LP?
I think the whole next
album is off hand.
What are you
going to do with your spare time while you are in Australia?
Ah. I dont know. I
am just going to enjoy it. I just hope it is like this. I am just going to be in the sun.
For a person who
likes to be alone a lot you have a lot of people with you on this tour.
Could this be a
protection for yourself?
I think it might be near
that. I think I am watching myself grow. I do surround myself with more and more people,
people I pick very carefully.
Is it a Cocker
Back on the
question of media, are you grateful to the media for being the success you are?
medium is there for a reason to communicate and
thats what Im there for too.
How has it
changed the style, now that your keyboard player has gone?
That hasnt changed
because Ive always had piano on my records anyway.
How did the
rehearsals go in London this week?
They were very good,
fine; they really were, because I have been singing the songs for a long time.
What do you like
best, the writing, the producing?
Its the singing.
It's the live show that I enjoy. Thats when you actually come in contact with what
you are doing.
You have said
that by getting tuberculosis was the greatest thing that has ever happened to you, why is
I think this has been
blown up a lot, it was just a time in my life when I was ill and I had to go away and I
did think clearly that time, more than I have ever done. I think it was the start of a new
life for me.
Was the first
part of your career the reason for your ill health?
Yeah, I think so. .
Yeah, the whole thing.
Well, the album is a
great hit for me l feel. The title comes from an idea that comes out. Basically it is this
guy who depicted the whole enlightening stages in ten points to do with the bull, Firstly
it was realising it was there and secondly finding it and seeing it. The third is actually
seeing it and the fourth is catching it.
With the up and
down of the music scene, not being dependable, were you surprised at the worlds
acceptance of Teaser and the Firecat. Were you surprised it was going to be that big?
No. I dont think
so. I have never been that surprised with myself. Obviously if it happens outside
its good and I feel something is happening, but it can get out of hand so then I
have to come back to point one again and that is why Im doing it.
Do you worry
when you release an album how high it is going to go up on the American charts and the
Yes I do worry. Not as
you can imagine for material things, but so that I can see where I am in relation to
America at that particular time.
How do you like
American acceptance; do you like working over there?
I like it. I think
Americans have a great deal, but I think they slightly misbehave themselves to themselves.
I think they dont have much respect for themselves now. I think that respect will
slowly rebuild again.
Do you have a
great album collection at home; do you listen to many other albums?
I listen to all of them.
I have just thrown away all of them and are going to start a new collection.
What are you
collecting now then?
At the moment I have got
some Chinese bells and some electronic music. I dont buy records twice and as they
get scratched I throw them away.
Are you into
music very deeply?
Deeply. Yes I think
thats on my mind most of the time.
personal reaction to this tour? Are you looking forward to it or is it a joke?
Joke? No, I wish it was
a joke. I wish I could take it like a joke but I can't. I take it a little more seriously
than that. I enjoy touring.
You have set
yourself a really hectic world tour, do you think it will worry you that it is a bit too
much to take on, four months of solid touring might weaken you somewhat?
Do you find it
Yes, actually. I will
most probably write my next album on this tour.
The Jethro Tull
tour was here recently and Jethro Tull and the Management had heard a few things back in
London about Australian audiences, did you have any ideas about Australian audiences
before you came or any thoughts on them?
I spoke to Elton and he
said, "Don't go there" and I said I will and I said, "What happens"
and he said "Well he found it difficult for some reason but from the reaction I think
its going to be great as long as people listen.
What reason did
I don't know, he
didnt explain himself at all. That is the reason I didn't go into it further.
Would you prefer
your audience to sit around rather then stand around end scream?
Absolutely. I enjoy the
actual anticipation moment as much as they do, but I enjoy singing too, so they must
A few minutes
ago you said you were going to write your next album here. Will you use this tour as a
source of inspiration?
Do you go into a
studio with a set plan on how you are going to record a number or does it just evolve in
the studio after you have written a song?
Both. I try and think of the mood first before I do anything and
then work out the arrangement before I go in, and as I go in I let things take shape the
way I want to and finally when I am doing the vocal it seems to me to be the most
important thing and that needs total concentration and freedom.
You have just
produced an album for Alun Davies your guitarist. Were you pleased with it, do you like
working as a producer?
I do like working as a
producer and AIun is a great musician to me and I loved everything about the album.
Steve are you
involved in civil rights causes?
No. I don't think I have
found the universal rights movement that I want to get into yet. I don't think its
Do you ever
worry about people using your talent?
No. I just hope that I
have enough goodness in the talent that it will rub off onto them.
Your welcome to
Sydney is compared with Beatle-mania. Do think you think you enjoy as much popularity as
the Beatles once did?
No. I don't think anyone
could repeat the BeatIes, they were something in themselves just as I am something as
What sort of
class do you put yourself in?
My own. I have never
been influenced in the music of the time, which it seems, is the fact in a lot of groups.
Do you enjoy
Life? I think I will
enjoy death even more.
Why is that?
Because this it too
confusing. How most people live has got to such a confused state, that is, unable to see
the reality towards life.
Would you be
happier if you retired?
No I think life has to
What you are
saying Cat, is that fame and fortune hasn't made you happy then?
Absolutely no. I think
that can't make anybody happy if that is all they strive for. At the time of striving they
feel happiness but at the time of achievement there is nothing there.
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