#SaturdaySongs No.9 – Boy With A Moon And Star On His Head

For today’s #SaturdaySong I’ve chosen a track from one of those milestone moments we all have in our lives. The album which included this song was released in late September 1972, a week before I made the huge step of going to university. Apart from holidays and school trips this was to be the first time I had ever lived away from home, and the magnitude of that moment is still etched in my memory. The album in question is Catch Bull At Four, which was the fourth album by Cat Stevens in his singer/songwriter career (he had to take a year out after his earlier pop career, having been very ill with tuberculosis). As I already owned the previous three it was a nailed on certainty that I would buy this one too, and I was in the record shop the day it was released.

Cast your mind back to those days. We consumed our music mostly by the medium of vinyl. Cassettes were becoming more popular, but still had some way to go before they were a main medium – many albums were still released on vinyl only. Vinyl albums were heavy and bulky, and I was travelling to uni by train, so it was impossible to take my record player and albums with me. It was a further five weeks before I could get a lift home for a weekend and pick up my music, and knowing that this separation was about to take place I played the album almost every waking moment before I left for my step into the wild world. Today’s song is this:

That has always been my favourite song on that album and for me is inextricably linked with going to university and taking a big stride into my future life. I never saw Cat Stevens play live at that time, although I would have loved to, but I did finally see him much later. His records were released on the Island label, and to celebrate 50 years of the label they ran a series of concerts for a week in May 2009. I was lucky enough to win a ticket in a newspaper competition and spent one of the most magical evenings of my life reliving all of those years. By then he had converted to Islam and was known as Yusuf Islam, but he had retained the connection with his previous musical life – it still made him money for his foundation – and when he sang the first of his early songs, Where Do The Children Play from the Tea For The Tillerman album, it felt like the whole audience was singing along with him. I found a cosy place to watch the concert, and was joined by a group of people who worked for Island Records. They were as surprised as the rest of us at an unannounced appearance of U2, who performed a four song acoustic set, and I came within 10 minutes of being asked to the backstage party: unfortunately, the spare pass they had was claimed late in the evening by the record company owner’s son for his girlfriend, who had lost hers. It was still a wonderful evening though.

If you’ve been following my #SaturdaySongs you’ll know that I said I would be devoting this month to seasonal songs, and may be wondering why I’ve chosen this one. Listen to the story told in the song and you’ll understand why: if this isn’t a modern-day retelling of the nativity then I don’t know what is! Granted, it isn’t a virgin birth, but the gift of a son blessed with wisdom and magical powers is unmistakeably linked, and I make no apologies for including it in my December selections.

Videos of the song are very hard to come by, and the one above is the best sound quality that I could find. As a bonus, here is a much more recent version, taken from a concert less than three months ago. It is wonderful that Cat/Yusuf is still performing this song 44 years on, and the respectful, rapt silence of the audience adds to the gravitas, I think:

“I’ll tell you everything I’ve learned, and Love is All, he said.”


12 thoughts on “#SaturdaySongs No.9 – Boy With A Moon And Star On His Head

  1. Cat Stevens! Why oh why did he quit writing and singing? I grieved when he retired. I couldn’t understand his reasons, and still can’t. Tea for the Tillerman still resides in my brain, and can be recalled (in full) just by thinking of the title.

    Liked by 1 person

    • He converted to Islam, Diane, and devoted his life to the foundation he set up providing education and generally doing good works. He has made a couple of albums under his adopted name, Yusuf Islam, and whilst they don’t match his musical heyday they are still pretty good.


  2. Damn you Clive! Here I am finding a short pause to look at blogs and skipping happily by most and then you go and post one of my absolute all time favourite songs – Cat Stevens is one of my most loved artists. I have had all his albums forever. Some are on vinyl (having survived the time my ex-husband sold my entire collection at a car boot sale shortly before he left me holding the babies) most are CDs but this one …. Catch Bull at Four was always my favourite amongst favourites and this song is exquisite. It is so good to read your post and I thank you and don’t really damn you at all!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad I chose one you liked and that means something to you as well. It is a superb song, and a great album. Although I think Tea For The Tillerman edges it as my favourite, if I had to choose. He was a major part of the soundtrack to my uni days, once I’d managed to lug all that vinyl up there!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do love Tea for The Tillerman (how on earth could I not) I think it just comes to the memories attached to Catch Bull – I think in the end that is so often the case with favourite music. It is the evocation of moments that gives one song the edge over another, one album over another.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That’s precisely why I started the #SaturdaySongs series! Music can be beautiful, uplifting, fun and so many other things in itself, but it is what we attach of ourselves to it that really brings it to life.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Now you are taking me back Clive. Cat Stevens was my first musical hero and I bought all those early albums – Matthew and Son retrospectively! – up to Catch Bull At Four. The more overtly mystical stuff left me behind I guess. Did you know Peter Gabriel played flute of all things on Teaser? Great song and the years just fell away. He can still sing too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you liked it! I didn’t know that, having had the album for 45 years it’s good to learn something new about it! There has always been a warmth about his voice that fits well with his songs and as you say he’s still got it!


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