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© stonerphonic 2008 - 2010

If "pure, unadulterated bullshit on a stick" had a blog page,
then it would probably look something like [this]. (Actual quote, stonerphonic's mother)

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

HEROES - Part 5: Cat Stevens

It's not time to make a change...

Y'know, when I look back over these pieces it's amazing that none of my heroes every actually uses their real names. Most of them have at least 3 or 4 pseudonyms or non-de-plumes they employ for varying purposes. And the scarier thought is that I often have done the same thing throughout my own life. Again as a line of demarcation, but sometimes it means more.

And Cat Stevens is no different. For me Cat Stevens falls into the same category as Malcolm X as far as the ability to change when change requires you to do so. The only difference is that Cat had a much bigger ego to deal with.

I draw a lot from Cat's passion. He put his whole heart into the words of his art. But hey, a lot of artists do that man, big deal. So yeah there has to be more involved...

I was very fortunate to have been brought up + nurtured in a very artistic, liberal and non-judgemental home environment. My sister is a conservatorium trained pianist who teaches piano in her spare time, and my father is president + chair of a number of keyboard clubs n south east Queensland, and collects old keyboards and organs as a hobby. My mother sings, and has an incredible vocal range, and I loved as a child to hide in another room and just listen to her without her knowing I was there, coz she just goes right off when she thinks no one's around.

As for me, my artistic flair is manifest across a very wide spectrum. If i can put two objects together two make a mark, I will. Pencil, paint, ink, charcoal, airbrush....anything. Of course I also love to make music, and went on to belt on keyboards, violins, guitars and then turntables. I also have an awesome collection of clay ocarinas, and even have a theremin for when i really wanna take it to another level. So, I had a good grounding and importantly, lots of encouragement to express myself. Couple all of this with the fact that my earliest childhood memories consist of my father reading to me, and if i could say thanks to my dad for only 1 thing, that would be it. It provided me with an avenue to intelligently direct my artistic passions and flair. Which, um, is what I'm doing now I guess!!!

But hey, what's all this got to do with Cat Stevens dude?

Well, growing up I was always different, and even though I got to always hang with the 'in' crowd, I never did quite fit in. And I always managed to defy accepted thought and standards -
Nobody had earrings, I got my ears pierced
Everybody got earrings, I took mine out...
I had really long hair, everybody else had short
They finally grew theirs, hell, I shaved mine clean off...
All my friends covered themselves in ink, i stayed clean of ink
They all want to get rid of their tatts now, ah, sucks to be you....

But hey, I didn't do that stuff just to be different. I did that stuff because that's where my heart was. And I wasn't worried about being different. I was worried about being me. 

And Cat Stevens did the same thing throughout his career. He constantly 'shot himself in the foot' from a corporate marketing point of view. And it's well known that he drove the industry executives insane because of either not following current musical market trends, or sticking with what was 'working' for him at the time. Yes Cat, what where you thinking? Creative expression and adventure? How foolish, considering the real aim of the music industry is how much money we can sell your ass for. Coz that's all the bean counters in the smoke filled boardrooms are concerned with. And of course the fans don't really care about the depth of artist's songs, which explains why we have Myley Cyrus selling out stadiums.

If you check out Cat's albums, you can clearly map out the progression, growth and change within the artist, even from the album titles themselves. And because he was writing about himself from his heart, you actually get to watch a person grow and change through his thoughts and feelings as laid out in the songs. How cool is that?

Bullshit man.
Big fucking deal starchild.
Heaps of dudes still do that kinda stuff today.
Hell, check out System Of A Down dude...

Um, yeah. Sure...

But (and this is the point), at the height of his career, his wealth, his fame, hell... even his ego, in 1976 at the end of his MAJIKAT Earth Tour, he walked off the stage and walked away from the entire industry. Literaly. Now, the reason behind why he walked away is common knowledge. He nearly drowned, did a deal with a higher power, made it out alive, and became a devout Muslim and then morphed into Yusuf Islam, who he still is today.

As I've stated before, I'm not interested in anyone's politics and religion. And I'm not interested in Cat's either. But, I do admire the fact that (regardless of being a right or wrong choice) the man made a promise, and he kept it. Regardless of the cost involved. And this promise cost him a lot. And that's what I find groovy about him. That kinda courage, to stick to your principles. To do what you promise despite the negative costs involved. That's hardcore. Coz keeping your promises is heaps important. It's about being true to yourself.



Today Cat Stevens uses his energies and money to finance education facilities for children in the UK. And as an adult educator myself, what better way to use your resources and expend yourself than by teaching, encouraging, inspiring and empowering tomorrow's leaders? Cat Stevens was very protective of his artistic output, and refused to have others dictate to him how his thoughts and feelings should be presented. And I admire that very much in a person. And that's kinda what I'm doing now. Sharing myself not as others would have me be, but rather it's me sharing myself as I truly am. It's all me....

Even the really boring crappy bits in there. That's me too...

Now, I don't recommend stuff to people, coz there's nothing worse than going "Dude, this rocks" to a mate, who then checks it out, misses the point and then says "nah, that sucked big time". So, I'm not gunna encourage you to check out a Cat Stevens album or anything. But hey, if you already have, or just so happen to check 1 out, let me know what you think. And for the real adventurous punters, there's always the movie 'Harold and Maude', which is the only movie Cat did the entire soundtrack for. A very, very black comedy. Very inspiring. And I know you've made the effort to see it now Ms Malvar, haven't you...

So, it's all about being true to yourself.
And others too.
Despite popularity.
Despite cost.

But hey, it's not time to make a change, just relax, take it easy. You're still young, that's your fault, there's so much you have to learn........ *(1)


NEXT WEEK: HEROES - Part 6 - Conscientious Objectors

If you're still here... thank you.

Please feel free to comment on my pieces. I willingly accept constructive criticism and comments on all my work. Hell, I'll take non-constructive criticism too. It's not life or death stuff y'know...

I believe in respect. I'm not asking you to agree with anything in this piece, but please allow me to have my opinion. Remember, I openly admit I don't read other peoples stuff. Hey, you don't have to read mine, and I'm happy to let you write yours.

Did i push your buttons? If I did, then share this shit with your friends.
Go on, hit that forward button...

All the words & mindless ramblings in BORDERLINE (c) 2008 - 2010 stonerphonic unless otherwise stated.
Find my punk ass - http://www.facebook.com/stonerphonic
Write my punk ass - stonerphonic@hotmail.com


* (1) Cat Stevens. Father and Son - "Tea for the Tillerman" (Island Records)


Bryce Wilson said...

Nice, have you listened to the stuff he's recorded as Yusef?

Another Cup was a bit spotty, but The Roadsinger was quite lovely.

stonerphonic said...

i do own Another Cup, and must admit it didn't measure up to previous releases imo. i haven't heard the latest one, but i do trust your judgements Bryce, and prob should give it a spin.

thanks heaps for stopping by.

Bajiggedy said...

nice words. i didn't know the nearly drowned bit, though, thanks.

now i wanna watch harold and maude after going like 20 years without doing so. thanks again.

stonerphonic said...

@Bajiggedy thank you.

Hope you a chance to watch it again. Def worth the effort.


Bad Ronald said...

I, too, was a big fan of Cat when I was a lad. My older brothers and sister had his albums, and I was just blown away by the songs. I remember, one afternoon, singing Longer Boats real loud while playing football with the neighborhood kids. Not to really share the music with them, because I knew they wouldn't dig it like I did. But, rather, like you told about in your post, because that's where my heart was, and I wanted to be different.

The one thing that has left an impression on me, about Cat, was that I can distinctly recall the moment I opened one of the LP sleeves and saw a picture of Cat with a cigarette. For some reason I was devastated! It was weird. I guess I got so wrapped up in the purity and grace of his music that I just never imagined he was a smoker. What a naive pup I was!

Great piece!!

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