December 9, 2008

Bedtime Music: Al Stewart - Year of the Cat

This week's worth of Bedtime Music will be shortened due to the fact that I didn't have the time to prepare last night's post.

New theme this week: Artists who have "one degree of separation" from
Alan Parsons. Yeah, I'm a (very) long-time Alan Parsons fan, and those of us on the Alan Parsons e-mail list (the Roadkill gang) have occasionally played "six degrees of separation" using Alan instead of Kevin Bacon. This week, I'm going to play four different groups that have some sort of tie with Alan. Tonight's musician is Al Stewart, playing Year of the Cat. This song came out in 1976 on the album of the same name, Alan having produced the album.

According to Songfacts:

Al Stewart originally wrote the lyrics after seeing the British comedian Tony Hancock in Bournemouth, England in 1966. Hancock was very depressed, and the show was a disaster, with the comedian going to the front of the stage and addressing the audience directly and pouring out his soul. In Al Stewart: The True Life Adventures of a Folk Rock Troubadour, Stewart is quoted: "He came on stage and he said 'I don't want to be here. I'm just totally pissed off with my life. I'm a complete loser, this is stupid. I don't know why I don't just end it all right here.' And they all laughed, because is was the character he played... this sort of down-and-out character. And I looked at him and I thought, 'Oh my God, he means it. This is for real.'" Hancock killed himself in 1968 with a drug overdose. Stewart's song was originally titled "Foot Of The Stage," with the chorus, 'Your tears fall down like rain at the foot of the stage.'

Many of Stewart's songs have alternate lyrics, and he wasn't happy with the Hancock-inspired words, as he didn't want to take advantage of the man's tragedy and besides, no one in America knew who Hancock was. Al re-wrote the lyrics as 'Year Of The Cat,' which he delivered to Parsons.

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