#205: Tea for the Tillerman, Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens is one of those names I hear tossed around a lot when people talk about great folk artists. (Yusuf Islam is another one.) But the fame and notoriety that Bob Dylan has enjoyed has somewhat eluded Cat Stevens. I couldn’t name a single song he played prior to this. Of course, a little research set me straight quickly — he sings “Peace Train”!
Cat Stevens is a fascinating character, so fascinating that it’s worth it to just take a deep dive into his Wikipedia page yourself. Instead of giving you a brief biography of Stevens, I would like to point out that in September 2020, Stevens put out Tea for the Tillerman 2. No, it’s not a sequel to this album, but simply a reimagining of it. Even more interesting, the cover art (which Stevens originally did himself) is now of the same man wearing a space suit. Fascinating!
I feel like everyone has an aunt who loves Cat Stevens, which was my entry point to Tea for the Tillerman. So Aunt Julie, this one is for you!
“Where Do The Children Play?” — Why did his voice make me giggle in this one? I quickly got used to his timbre though, and I really love the lyrics of this one. Will you keep on building higher/’Til there’s no more room up there?
“Hard Headed Woman” — This is apparently about his ex-girlfriend Patti D’Arbanville, who was a personality in her own right — she also dated Mick Jagger, according to the RS blurb! At first I was like, “Aw, what a sweet breakup song,” but then I got to the verse about “fine feathered friends” (read: birds, as in women) who only want men for their money.
“Wild World” — Guess how old I am — this song always makes me think of that one season finale of Skins. But this song is really, really pretty. Gosh, Patti D’Arbanville really did a number on him, huh?
“Miles From Nowhere” — Hey, this song really gets going! But I object to the line I love everything. Clearly, he no longer loves Patti D’Arbanville!
“But I Might Die Tonight” — I love me a good song about refusing to get a real job. Love the echoing ahhs in the background, also.
“Longer Boats” — NOT about UFOs, although Stevens made some comments to that early in his career. Some of these songs struck me really powerfully. This was one of them.
“Into White” — This song is great, but someone needs to tell Cat Stevens that the house he describes here does NOT sound structurally sound. Still, what sweet violins.
“On The Road To Find Out” — I can’t help it, I connected with this one. In the end I’ll know/But on the way I wonder. Oh my gosh and that last line! Pickup, pickup a good book now. PREACH, Yusuf!
“Father And Son” — Cat Stevens is on a mission to make me cry. Fun fact, this was meant to be part of a stage musical that Stevens wanted to write called Revolussia, which was supposed to be about — you guessed it — the Russian Revolution. Revolussia never materialized, but this is a lovely byproduct.
“Tea For The Tillerman” — Why did I get emotional when he said Bring tea for the Tillerman/Steak for the sun/Wine for the woman who made the rain come?
LEAST FAVORITE SONGS:
“Sad Lisa” — Maybe this piano ballad was just too slow for me, or maybe the lyrics are more pedestrian than the rest of these songs. But I do love the way he says Lisa with a Z.
IS RS FULL OF IT?
Absolutely not. I was surprised by how much this one spoke to me. Gosh, am I a Sixties-Seventies era hippie? Will do more research and report back.