Wednesday, October 24, 2007

No. 206: Tea for the Tillerman

Band: Cat Stevens
Album: Tea for the Tillerman
Why Rolling Stone gets it right: Cat Stevens' soft folk takes a lot from Simon and Garfunkel. It's catchy, pretty and hummable.
Why Rolling Stone gets it wrong: Outside of admitted quality, I'm not seeing the import of this record. It's just a folk record; Albeit a pretty great one.
Best song: "Wild World" is one of the best breakup songs around.
Worst song: "Longer Boats" is pretty boring.
Is it awesome?: Not really.

Cat Stevens' chamber pop music is something of interest, if only you can trace it all the way to the similar type music of the indie 90s and 00s. I'm not totally buying this, but it's a leap I'm sure people have made.

What's amazing about the record is how bitter it is. The idea that a cynic is simply an idealist disappointed is evident on this record; Stevens is clearly searching for some answers. "Into White" is something of a search for utopia, while "Father And Son" is a wonderful confused song and "Wild World" is a breakup song.

Sometimes it's pretty overt; "Sad Lisa" isn't exactly subtle and Stevens' search on "The Road To Find Out" stinks of loneliness ("find myself alone, hoping someone would miss me"). Still, great songs both and Stevens' ability to put the search into a nice package is striking.

"Wild World" is the great example of that. The song's first line ("Now that I've lost everything to you") is pathetic and the chorus turns from clever and sweet into downright creepy quick ("It's hard to get by just upon a smile... I'll always remember you like a child, girl").

Still, that Stevens is able to synthesize all those emotions into something so damned pleasant is amazing and the essence of the record. There are friends to be made out there, but "remember there's a lot of bad and beware."

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