I find a lot of pleasure in digging up these early articles on artist that now are household names the world over. Here is an article written just over a month after Cat Stevens released his debut album “Matthew & Son”. I have been devoted to rock my whole life, but there is something about the songs that Mr. Stevens wrote that always had a lot of appeal to me. Those singer-songwriters from the late 60s/early 70s were quite phenomenal. And that also applies to the lesser known troubadours from Norway at that time.
`Juke box` bitchy comments hurt
says Cat Stevens to Jeremy Pascall
IT was the Cat that got the cream on the line from Glasgow! A Cat Stevens, purring with well-deserved pleasure at his success on the Walkers Brothers’ tour.
Ever pleasant, ever helpful, he cheerfully settled down to this Question Time despite the rigours of touring, performing and the general bustle that surrounds a one-nighter.
Q In view of the controversy surrounding “I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun,” do you wish you’d issued something else ?
A Yes. Well, I liked the controversy in the beginning, but it got to be hectic, and I don’t want anybody to feel bad or brought down nor to entice kids to buy guns. In the context of the Western musical, the sound wasn’t bad — I liked it, but I see now that it was my fault for not explaining the context before it was released.
Now I’m looking forward to the next single. It’s a slowish one I’ve been wanting to do for ages. You’ll like it. I’m not really worried that “Gun” started slowly — it’s doing all right now!
Q How did you react to the statements made about “Gun” by reviewers and particularly “Juke Box Jury”?
A I felt terribly hurt after “JBJ” — in fact, I couldn’t sleep all that night. I thought some of the things said were unnecessarily vitriolic and bitchy, but I’ve spoken to some of the jurors since, and now they’ve put the song in its true context they like it.
The trouble is you don’t think about these things when you put the record out — you’re so wrapped up in it you can’t see somebody else’s side. I won’t make the same mistake again, though — I’ve learnt from experience.
Q At what stage of progress is your Western musical?
A Frankly, I’m getting fed up with it now. I wish I’d never said anything about it, because now everybody’s hurrying me to finish it.
Left alone, it’s okay. I write a song here and there, and no pressure, but the moment somebody tells me to do something I shut down like a clam.
I’ve made it a Western, because I think there’s a feeling for things western just now in clothes and country music everywhere. I want it to go on in the West End, and I’d love to take the lead, because it’s really about me — but as a cowboy.
I wouldn’t back it with my own money, though!
Q You’ve gone a long way in a short time. How do you feel about the suddenness of your success?
A I’m beginning to adjust now, and take things in my stride. I seem to cope with it all. Has it changed me ? Well, I’m very organised these days. I write everything down on bits of paper, and plan what I’ve got to do each day.
Q Do you plan your career similarly
A Not really. I concentrate on now. I had three numbers and I’m here. What I’ve got to do is keep on improving, working and learning.
I will be producing a record pretty soon with an old friend of mine from the days in the folk clubs, when we used to sing around. His name is Peter James Horgan, and he writes some great stuff himself, but I’m giving him one of mine to start with.
I did plan for this tour by working on my act with producer Fred Perry, who’s great, so give him a plug. I’m much more confident since he’s helped me, and less embarrassed by myself on stage.
Q And how is your first tour going?
A I’m blasted – well enjoying it. On the first day I thought it was terrible in the coach and all. But now I’ve got my own car and I’m staying in comfortable hotels, everything is great.
The fans are fantastic! I thought they’d be there for the Walkers only, because they’re the gods. But I think I’m appreciated, too.
Q And after the tour? What then?
A I think there’ll be a Cat Designs in the future. I designed my stage gear, and I’ve been doodling around a lot recently.
I’ll do some of the designing, and my brother David will run the business side of it, as he was in fashion and knows all the contacts. It won’t be a boutique – strictly trade and wholesale.
Q You’re both a writer and performer. Which is the more important?
A Performing is becoming very important now, and I’m working very hard at it. I really want to be a great performer. I admire Sammy Davis — that man is unbelievable. And the Walker Brothers aren’t so bad. . .!
Seriously, they are great. I’ve learnt a lot from them.
Writing is still important, but it does tend to go in fashions. At the moment my songs are in great demand, but then so were the songs of Mitch Murray and Chris Andrews, and they’re both suffering a little right now because they stayed stagnant. I mustn’t do that. I intend to grow with time, expand and change.