Saturday, July 23, 2016

98. Cat Stevens - Tea for the Tillerman

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Not only was Cat Stevens a gifted musician,  he was a talented artist as well.  As a small boy his first ambition was to be a famous artist like his Uncle Hugo, his mother's brother
who was a well-known artist in Sweden. As he grew older, he entered Hammersmith College to study Art. But his interest in Art soon took second nature to his love of Music.  But
he continued to use his art.  He drew and designed his own album covers,  among them Tea for the Tillerman and the famous Teaser and the Firecat which was eventually turned
into a children's book and animated cartoon. Magicat; Cat Stevens Scrapbook

I had colouring books as a young boy,  even before I went to school. At age four I was living with my unwed grandmother away from my parents and siblings.  It was a two-storey 
house that was built from the pension of a soldier, my grandma's brother, who died a bachelor. Oftentimes I would be alone in my room on the upper floor scribbling on my books
(and oftentimes singing alone,  too).  In short,  I was drawing  (and singing)  my own fantasies and little did I know that I was,  in fact,  building up memories for my later years.

Now I'm wondering how those  colouring books from way back 1959  would look like in 2016 (and I'm already 61 and still without a grandchild).  This was what I had in mind (or
maybe in the  back of my mind)  when I was working  on my tweak of  the Tillerman.

I was a silent kid.  My grandmother sang in church and was deeply  religious and was
very strict with me.

"From the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen, now there's a way and I know
that I had to go away." "Father and Son"

I left that  house as home  in 1971 as I entered  college and I hadn't stayed  there for
long since. The last time I saw my grandmother, she was already bedridden. She had 
tears in her eyes as she was telling me she was going to die. 

My father died on that bed too. Ahead of her.

By that time I had found a girl, settled down and married.

I knew I had to go away.

No. 208, Rolling Stone, The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time;  No. 342, The Virgin All-Time Album Top 1000

Art design by Cat Stevens.  Album produced by Paul Samwell-Smith.  Island (UK/Europe),  A&M (US & Canada)

Is it on the roads of Provence or the tube to Portobello Road that I visualize Cat? He is both the next in a long
line of troubadours  and very much  the London  neighbourhood musician,  encompassing at once the allure of
the exotic and the ability to domesticate it. He wanders, but he returns home.

"Miles From Nowhere," "Wild World," "On the Road to Find Out," "Father and Son" are songs of leaving — travel
through  time and space.  Every  song is an excursion  into Cat's  personal world;  together  they constitute an
album affirming  the simple life and the individual's search for values.  All of this is a far cry,  although only a
causal link away, from Cat Stevens, "pop star", subsequently a refugee from the glittering life, and later still,
the TB ward. Ben Gerson for Rolling Stone

Tom Bombadil  is a supporting  character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium.  He appears in Tolkien's  high fantasy epic The Lord of the Rings,  published  in 1954 and 1955.  In the
first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo Baggins and company meet Bombadil in the Old Forest. He also appears in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, a book of verse first 
published in 1962, purporting to be a selection of Hobbit poems, two of which concern Bombadil.

Is Cat Stevens'  Tea for Tillerman  album cover  supposed to be  Tom Bombadil?

No,  though I doubt  that  Cat Stevens  would be  displeased by the comparison.

The  bearded  man on  the cover is the eponymous  Tillerman  -  Cat Stevens,  a
former art student, drew the illustration. Unlike Tom Bombadil, the Tillerman's
hat is not bright blue,  nor are his boots yellow - instead, you have a sailor (for
that's what a tillerman is) taking his tea. Justin Eiler

(A) Where Do the Children Play - Hard-Headed Woman - Wild World - Sad Lisa - Miles from Nowhere

(B) But I Might Die Tonight - Longer Boats - Into White - On the Road - Father and Son - Tea for the Tillerman

"Father and Son" music video from ladagamu on YouTube


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