Patricia Craig Johnson --- Searching for My Ancestors --- Sharing My Life Stories

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cat Stephens & Life Stories In Song

There is something special about the music of the 70's.
Special because you could actually understand what the artist was saying.
                          Special because the lyrics were usually thoughtful. 

It was a thoughtful time and many song writers were interested in messages about human behavior.  These pictures are Cat Stephens who is one of my very favorite artists.  I first heard him when I was working at AMF Head Ski in Boulder, Colorado.  I worked in the tennis racket manufacturing department and Head Ski was a place that hippies and ski bums loved to work, so I soon was educated in a new world that I had never known about in Nebraska.  These folks loved the music of the day, and it was 1971, so the radio in the plant was usually tuned to their kind of music. 

I remember the first song I heard by Cat Stephens.  It was "Morning Has Broken", and I was entranced by his voice and the lyrics.  It echoed through the large area and it was loud so it could be heard over the sound of machinery, etc.  I asked my co-worker about the song and the artist.  "Oh, that's Cat Stephens and he is coming to Denver next month on concert", she answered.  I knew I had to be there so I learned where to buy concert tickets, where the theater was located (the name of the theater is long forgotten now), wrote it on the calendar and told Laurie, "We are going to hear Cat Stephens in Denver."

We found our seats in the theater and waited for the show to start. Finally a tall thin man came on the stage. He was dressed in black, carried his 12 string guitar and sat in the middle of the stage on a high stool.  That was it.  No band behind him, no set decorations, no theme to the act, just Cat Stephens.  It was inspiring to say the least.  Inspiring enough that I can see it in my mind 41 years later.

But lately I have been thinking about the many songs Cat Stephens sang for many years and how much they said about human behavior.  One in particular has been on my mind the past few days. It was written by Harry Chapin (another of my favorites).  It is called "The Cats In The Cradle".  In a few short minutes it tells of the life of a parent that realizes that their child "has grown up just like me."

The song starts when a baby is born and the dad is busy providing for the family and too busy to play. 

The boy turns 10 and dad is still too busy for him, "But we'll get together soon, son, and we'll have a real good time." The son says, "That's ok Dad'." The boy walks away saying to himself, "I'm going to grow up just like him." 

It tells about the son growing up and going to college and dad is now wanting to spend some time together, but something has changed and the son is too busy now.  Finally, the son gets married and moves away.

Now dad is older and he gets lonely and calls the son and asks to get together. The son can't find the time because his family needs his attention, "But we will get together soon, dad, and we'll have a real good time." 

The dad sees now that his son HAS grown up just like him.

An old story that has played out in many families.  It is a human story and it is thoughtful.  I seem to be in a thoughtful mood today and Cat Stephens fills that void with beautiful music.

In closing I have to tell you about one other favorite phrase in a Cat Stephens song.  It is from "Father & Son".  It closes with these words, "Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy."  Hmmmm, let's see, I think that is me.

Yes, I sure enjoy the music of Cat Stephens.  I might add that I enjoyed him so much I attended three of his concerts.  One more than Neil Diamond concerts --- but that's another story.  Stay tuned, maybe I will tell you about that later.  Patj

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