Nowadays, Cat Stevens is probably more famous for leaving the music industry at the height of his popularity than for the great music he created while still active in the crazy world of writing and recording songs.
With three immensely popular, and commercially successful, albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s — “Matthew And Son”, “Tea For The Tillerman” and “Teaser And The Firecat” — Cat Stevens knew how to write and perform great songs.
But in the mid-1970s Cat Stevens found religion and auctioned off all his guitars. He wouldn’t perform secular music again for another 30 years.
I’ve always liked his style. He wrote a number of great songs, including “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, which was a big hit for P. P. Arnold, Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow, and many others.
And he had a raft of hits of his own, including “Moonshadow”, “Peace Train” and “Morning Has Broken”.
“Father And Son”, despite being my favourite Cat Stevens song, wasn’t a big hit on its original release. A track on his 1970 album, “Tea For The Tillerman”, “Father And Son” only made it as far as the B-side of “Moonshadow”.
There it languished for about 25 years until Irish boyband Boyzone stumbled across it, and had a big hit with their cover version, which reached Number Two in the UK charts in 1995, and did very well across most of Europe.
Without being disrespectful to Boyzone, they did a very pretty version of Cat Stevens’ original. But their version lacked a bit of the grit and anguish of the original…those were the elements that made Cat Stevens’ original such a great piece of work.
Despite being a relatively simple song, musically and lyrically, Cat Stevens does a great job of wringing every last ounce of emotion out of it.
The story behind “Father And Son” is well-told, without being preachy. The father wants to protect his son, and advise him of the paths in life which might be better not to wander down. The son wants to carve out his own life, live under his own rules, and make his own mistakes along the way, if necessary.
It’s an eternal story in many ways…
It’s not time to make a change
Just relax, take it easy
You’re still young, that’s your…