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Al Stewart — Year Of The Cat
Album: Year Of The Cat
Avg rating:
7.7

Your rating:
Total ratings: 3800









Released: 1976
Length: 6:26
Plays (last 30 days): 1
On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolour in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat

She doesn't give you time for questions
As she locks up your arm in hers
And you follow 'till your sense of which direction
Completely disappears
By the blue tiled walls near the market stalls
There's a hidden door she leads you to
These days, she says, I feel my life
Just like a river running through
The year of the cat

Well, she looks at you so cooly
And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea
She comes in incense and patchouli
So you take her, to find what's waiting inside
The year of the cat

Well, morning comes and you're still with her
And the bus and the tourists are gone
And you've thrown away the choice and lost your ticket
So you have to stay on
But the drum-beat strains of the night remain
In the rhythm of the new-born day
You know sometimes you're bound to leave her
But for now you're going to stay
In the year of the cat
Comments (464)add comment
Just saw him last week in Mount Vernon Washington with the Empty Pockets. A wonderful show in a lovely old theater. Well worth the price of admission.
This really gets better and better for me. I hear it less often now, which is good — and it transports me immediately back to (junior) high school in 1976. Seen Al play it live many many times and it’s just … *chef’s kiss*
Scary thought to keep you up at night: What if this song had never been so divinely overproduced? Yeah, think about...that.  
this song, spring time, twenty years old, conquering my world on the other side of the country - in spite of all the current noise, this takes me to my better place - thank you very much . . .
The sentimental memories from my last year of high school in 1976 that come over me when hearing this song are worth so much more than any feeling that it has been overplayed. I could hear it over and over and have only the same positive vibes about my future and the forever newness of life that I had back then. Thank you RP for regularly playing, and Al Stewart for recording such a timeless epic tune.
The mem
How many know that Al plays the acoustic guitar solo on this song?
I loved this one in the day, but over time it's aged like "American Pie," "MacArthur Park," and "Baker Street," i.e., not well. I like it better than those others, but they share a common property for me: really cool at first, growing tedious over time. But this one less so. It's funny, because there are movies I can watch over and over and enjoy every time. Songs, too. Just not this one. 
Over about 30 years are so this has slowly gone from a 1 to about an 8 now.
It sure is (eventually) growing on me.
 PeterMC3 wrote:

They just don't make music like this anymore. Just turned it up loud while washing the dishes, a soused old hippie househusband that I am, and was transported back to the day's before I'd ever washed a dish. Take me back to the 70's and leave me there.



In the year of the cat?
I never get tired of this song.
 coloradojohn wrote:

I can remember every time I ever leaned back and let this fabulously timeless tale wash over me like the waters of a true baptism, and how sometimes, I was with someone I'd convinced to join me, and who would later confess to me that they had never indulged in such an obvious pleasure, such an intensely personal yet Universal therapy... IMMORTAL STUFF!



I would join you any time. 
she comes with incense and patchouli....ahhhhhhhh college!! 
The imagery is superb.  'Wish I could write like this.  I'm stuck in Gonzo-land these days;  searching for an exit visa away from this perennial mental health crisis called  "America".  
I can remember every time I ever leaned back and let this fabulously timeless tale wash over me like the waters of a true baptism, and how sometimes, I was with someone I'd convinced to join me, and who would later confess to me that they had never indulged in such an obvious pleasure, such an intensely personal yet Universal therapy... IMMORTAL STUFF!
Geez, where does the time go..?   Saw Al Stewart perform this outside at the Universal Amphitheater in 76 or so.   The fidelity on the vinyl is awesome.  I managed to grab a new MoFi copy off Ebay for a pittance years ago.  It is outstanding.
Thanks RP for the memories.   Old and new. 
-John 
Seems to always be "The Year of the Cat"; never "Nostradamus" or "Roads to Moscow" or "Terminal Eyes" -- and the immortal "Warren Harding"    -- 
though they span not a single year, but the Past, Present and Future...
Don't bother asking for explanations. But the opening verse of this song is one of the greatrest ever. 
Those first couple of piano notes are like catnip to my ears. 
What a great songwriter is Al Stewart.
 Easyrider wrote:

What an outstanding track and album!



such sweet piano...i gotta learn that intro!
What an outstanding track and album!
A ghost writer too! Lots of talent here.
This whole record is gorgeous, Al Stewart is an incredible lyricist and song writer. Oh, then theres the fact that the God of engineers Alan Parsons produced it. Bill, please feel free to play any track of this album!!
You can't go wrong with a song that talks about a girl that smells like patchouli.  This still remains one of the best songs of 70s, somehow, even though it really has lyrics that don't mean anything...maybe the absurdity of the lyrics matched with the really, really good music was enough to make it special.
oh my

what an intro

we should walk into a room, the way this intro sounds
We need more saxophone in music. The outro to this song is wonderful. Could go for 5 more minutes. 
 Proclivities wrote:


I guess it could be possible, but it would probably sound dreadfully over-produced with many of today's production practices, whereas it didn't sound over-produced on this track.



Well, then, production practices might need to accommodate the music, not the other way around.
A 10 since the very first time I heard it, in my girlfriend's apartment in Port Moody, BC. Weird that I remember that so clearly.
Every single instrument can be picked out of the mix. Such a good recording, and what an album, it has 'On The Border' and 'Lord Grenville' on it. 
Trivia: Al Stewart himself plays the acoustic guitar solo.
 rgio wrote:

String, Sax, and guitar solos in one song.   Is that possible ever again?



I guess it could be possible, but it would probably sound dreadfully over-produced with many of today's production practices, whereas it didn't sound over-produced on this track.
This has to be one of the best 'folk' songs. even if it doesn't sound very folk. Al Stewart, just brilliant. Never tire of hearing this. 
Saw Al when he opened for ELO sometime around 1972-3, memory is a bit hazy.
I think her name was Lola...
Always reminds me of my girl.
The lyrics are like a fine artist painting with words. 
Thanks Al & Co.. so glad you performed this so beautifully and blessings to you lost friend, Jerry Rafferty. A pure soul, confused by the bottle, but loved across the world, just as you are! 🧡🧡
An odd bit of trivia. Al normally writes the lyrics 1st but this is the exception. Originally it was called "At the foot of the stage" and was about a UK comic called Tommy Cooper * but then he realised that no one outside the UK would get it. So with the tune already written "Year of the Cat" was born.


*Tommy Cooper died on stage
 PeterMC3 wrote:
They just don't make music like this anymore. Just turned it up loud while washing the dishes, a soused old hippie househusband that I am, and was transported back to the day's before I'd ever washed a dish. Take me back to the 70's and leave me there.
 

It's the voice...
fogmoose wrote:
Its because he's a Scotsman...The Scots basically invented the modern world ;-)

 
Canadese wrote:

That's because they are all just displaced Irishmen.
 
What about the Picts then? 
Produced by Alan Parsons, as I recall. Outstanding sax lead.
Next year of the cat is 2023 apparently. Vietnamese zodiac cycle
 philbertr wrote:
Sax by Gerry Rafferty?
 
Unlikely, as he was a guitarist.  Do you mean Raphael Ravenscroft?  In any case it was Phil Kenzie.
Sax by Gerry Rafferty?
 tcseeley wrote:
This was one of THE songs of my teenage years. I agree with a number of the other posters that the lyrics certainly paint a picture. But I've spent half my life trying to figure out what the hell they were ABOUT. What's The Year Of The Cat got to do with anything? So I recently read an interview with him and he more or less said the lyrics were just gibberish. He had the tune and just kind of strung some lyrics together for it. I felt so used! I thought he was trying to tell me something profound.

Now, bear in mind I'm an engineer by training and profession - I'm sure I'm taking this all too literally. None of this diminishes my love of the song in any way. Definitely a top ten in my list.
 
The lyrics sound like some kind of stream of consciousness, a bit like most if not all Underworld songs, or quite a few Beck songs. They seem to be pieces of a puzzle and it is up to the listener to build something meaningful out of them. I guess that next to the beautiful music, this is part of what makes this song so enjoyable. You're not being forced into a rigid interpretation and you'd want to listen to it many times merely to try to make more sense out of it.
Me, aged 12, sat in the old dentist's chair, gazing up his nose in despair. 
This song comes on the radio in the surgery.  I used it to take my mind off of whatever he was doing to my gnashers, and listened to it. 
Every. 
Single. 
Word. 
Been in love with it ever since. 
(Dental visits are just about tolerated.)
Song imprint - although released in July of '76, I remember a lot of airplay in the winter of that year, especially while going on school ski trips.  Crowded bus filled with overdressed kids in junior high school...
 esotericderek wrote:
Wow. I never realized until now how much Al Stewart influenced the Pet Shop Boys. I thought this was Neil Tennant for a minute.
 
Oh behave.  Neil Tennant isn't fit to restring his guitar.
 ScottishWillie wrote:

Because it lifts many peoples mood (including mine) and leaves them happier at the end than they were at the beginning.
 
Very well said.
 marco9962 wrote:
My number one favorite song of all time.
 
It's one of mine. I don't really like a lot of what he does except for On the border but this one is hairs on back of neck, what a tune, esp the solos, hooks, verses, choruses, everything really
 kbs wrote:

Copeland?
 
I'm not the one to care of the nationality, but I compulsively have to note that Mr. Copeland is American :-)
 tcseeley wrote:
This was one of THE songs of my teenage years. I agree with a number of the other posters that the lyrics certainly paint a picture. But I've spent half my life trying to figure out what the hell they were ABOUT. What's The Year Of The Cat got to do with anything? So I recently read an interview with him and he more or less said the lyrics were just gibberish. He had the tune and just kind of strung some lyrics together for it. I felt so used! I thought he was trying to tell me something profound.

Now, bear in mind I'm an engineer by training and profession - I'm sure I'm taking this all too literally. None of this diminishes my love of the song in any way. Definitely a top ten in my list.
 

Lyrics remind me, literally,  of nights in the medina of Marrakesh. Not gibberish at all...
 Rockit9 wrote:
Who are the best Stewarts of all Great Britain?
Al, Rod, Dave....Is there anymore?
 
Copeland?
Yup, back from Southeast Asia, working my way through college. The year 1976 was a good one, sharing an apartment with a friend. Money ran out. Ended up living in an attic, back porch and close the next few years. Got my degree, got married in college, and my wife loved this song.

Thanks RP for the great memories!

Ouachita wrote:
In the seventies, not long back from Vietnam, working in a high end audio store, discovering what would be my lifelong passion, looking ahead not back. That's what this song means fro me.
 

Thanks Bill, I needed a little sax today.
 rate 10 
 PeterMC3 schrieb:
Sie machen einfach keine Musik mehr so. Ich habe es beim Abwasch nur laut aufgedreht, ein verdorbener alter Hippie-Hausmann, der ich bin, und wurde zu dem Tag zurückgebracht, an dem ich noch nie einen Teller gewaschen hatte. Bring mich zurück in die 70er und lass mich dort.
 

Hello Brother
 westslope wrote:


Oh?  Who, for example?
 

everybody sang "guhl" and "wuhld" instead of "gerl" and "werld"
 rgio wrote:
String, Sax, and guitar solos in one song.   Is that possible ever again?
 
And...mentioning Peter Lorre in the lyrics.  Never again!  Too bad. 
String, Sax, and guitar solos in one song.   Is that possible ever again?
A consummate songwriter, poet, storyteller... his songs are timeless. 
In the seventies, not long back from Vietnam, working in a high end audio store, discovering what would be my lifelong passion, looking ahead not back. That's what this song means fro me.
 Milesxl wrote:
The year of the twat.... zzz
 
What?  Are you kidding me?
I was 16 when this came out and it coloured my fantasies for years... oh but to travel to exotic lands and to meet such a woman of dreams. Still such a beautiful and haunting song.
Good Lord, I was born too late.  Damn, perhaps in the next life this will again be a possibility........

Limpopoking wrote:

I had the same experience, though it was hitching round Southern Africa and it was one of about 5 tapes that I had in my possession at the time, so yeah, it received a lot of air play.
 

Saw Al Stewart perform this last year at Cropredy. Fantastic!
 MrStatenIsle wrote:


Song was written for the 1967 Mercury Cougar 
 
Oh! Well that explains it all!
 LaurieinTucson wrote:


in the 60s and 70s american singers sang with british accents
 

Oh?  Who, for example?
The year of the twat.... zzz
I give the album cover a 9 too
 max_p wrote:
I like  it when UK type rock singers lose their accent in song. not so here.
 

in the 60s and 70s american singers sang with british accents
I like  it when UK type rock singers lose their accent in song. not so here.
 tcseeley wrote:
This was one of THE songs of my teenage years. I agree with a number of the other posters that the lyrics certainly paint a picture. But I've spent half my life trying to figure out what the hell they were ABOUT. What's The Year Of The Cat got to do with anything? So I recently read an interview with him and he more or less said the lyrics were just gibberish. He had the tune and just kind of strung some lyrics together for it. I felt so used! I thought he was trying to tell me something profound.

Now, bear in mind I'm an engineer by training and profession - I'm sure I'm taking this all too literally. None of this diminishes my love of the song in any way. Definitely a top ten in my list.
 

Song was written for the 1967 Mercury Cougar 
This was one of THE songs of my teenage years. I agree with a number of the other posters that the lyrics certainly paint a picture. But I've spent half my life trying to figure out what the hell they were ABOUT. What's The Year Of The Cat got to do with anything? So I recently read an interview with him and he more or less said the lyrics were just gibberish. He had the tune and just kind of strung some lyrics together for it. I felt so used! I thought he was trying to tell me something profound.

Now, bear in mind I'm an engineer by training and profession - I'm sure I'm taking this all too literally. None of this diminishes my love of the song in any way. Definitely a top ten in my list.
Wonderful

yes, like many, going back for a few minutes
ahh......... like a fine wine it's just better with age

Saw  Mr. stewart at a small theater in PA June 2016.
Awesome show!!!!!
Overplayed in the 70's. Forgive me, I can't stand it.
As per the previous comment, listening to this truly is time travel. I'm back in the 70's, and feeling fine.
I'll forever be 15 years old when I hear this song. Part of my life.

"Well morning comes and you're still with her
And the bus and the tourists are gone
And you've thrown away your choice you've lost your ticket
So you have to stay on"

I'm still there.
Its the opening verse that makes this a great song, It's a huge hook:


On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime

 
You can never go wrong with a Peter Lorre reference.  
 fogmoose wrote:
Its because he's a Scotsman...The Scots basically invented the modern world ;-)
 
That's because they are all just displaced Irishmen.
They just don't make music like this anymore. Just turned it up loud while washing the dishes, a soused old hippie househusband that I am, and was transported back to the day's before I'd ever washed a dish. Take me back to the 70's and leave me there.
A song like a monolith...
 marco9962 wrote:
My number one favorite song of all time.
 
It is sublime to me; soothing, calming... 9-->10
I was 10 years old and loved this song when it came out.
My number one favorite song of all time.
 Dahlia_Gumbo wrote:
Great memories of this one too — from WHFS in Bethesda, MD.

 
Oh, gosh, do I miss WHFS.

And KISS-94 in NC. And any number of "underground" FM stations of the 70s as I traveled up and down the East Coast in my old VW searching for surf or a job - or a woman in a watercolor silk dress.
Always loved this song and the whole album. I'll never tire of it.
Who are the best Stewarts of all Great Britain?
Al, Rod, Dave....Is there anymore?
I was 16 when this hit the radio, and I didn't hate it, but basically regarded it one of those soft songs you mark time with until something rocking came on again, like Boston.  There is plenty I miss about those times, but my musical taste is not among them.
 gmsingh123 wrote:
Al cheats a little bit here, first he mentions a Bogart movie, and then he throws Peter Lorre into the mix.  The Maltese Falcon, maybe?  But he doesn't go there, he totally immerses us in a more exotic local and focuses on the romance.  They're just great lyrics.
 
I always assumed he was referring to "Casablanca", which is more exotic and romantic than "The Maltese Falcon" and also features both of those actors.   At any rate, Al was a good lyricist.

An unsanitary student flat in 1977 after the pubs have closed. A group of us drinking more than is good for us and taking turns to play our favorite vinyl records. My girlfriend puts on Year of the Cat and the boys go mental (we were all punks and didn’t approve of this kind of thing). The girls face us down saying it’s their turn on the turntable and this was their choice. They then (successfully)  demand to be allowed to play it a second time as we made such a fuss they didn't get to enjoy it the first time.

Thanks for the memories Bill!


 a2sportsguy wrote:
Love this song. Always will. And as some have already noted, the lyrics and the music are extremely evocative.

Few may know that the song was co-written by keyboardist Peter Wood, who plays that opening solo (my favorite part of the song). Wood was a career sideman who played with Pink Floyd, Lou Reed, Carly Simon and even Cyndi Lauper.

Somehow, someway, I ran into him about 30 years ago at a Who concert. He introduced himself. And I immediately said "Oh! You co-wrote 'Year of the Cat.' I love that song." I also mentioned his work with British vocalist Jess Roden. It may have been the only time in his life when he was recognized by a fan. There was kind of a stunned look on his face. It was great. 

He died in 1993 at age of 43. RIP, Peter.  

 
He was also the bandmate of Tim Renwick in the band Quiver.  Renwick does just about every great guitar solo on Al's records.  (Okay, Jimmy Page did play on the album "Love Chronicles".)  I saw Tim Renwick play live with the resurgence of Procol Harum in '91 and he was friggin' great.  Maybe Trower would have done better, but not by much.  I also saw Al play live in the 80s, '85 I think, when Peter Wood was with him.  The backing band they called "A Shot in the Dark" then and they did an album together.  Another bit of Radio Paradise/Al Stewart trivia: Al produced John Martyn's second record, "The Tumbler" which is also fantastic. 
 idiot_wind wrote:
Its the song writing! 

Just think about the opening lines. You see a woman in a silk dress (va va va voom!) and....then see strolling the crowd like Peter Lorre (egads!) 
I mean...that's just freakin too cool.  

 
Al cheats a little bit here, first he mentions a Bogart movie, and then he throws Peter Lorre into the mix.  The Maltese Falcon, maybe?  But he doesn't go there, he totally immerses us in a more exotic local and focuses on the romance.  They're just great lyrics.
 Cyclehawk wrote:
Saw him in Atlanta last week, great show.  You're comments are right on.

 


 Baby_M wrote:
Saw him live in Kent, Ohio a couple of weeks ago.  According to official sources he's 71 years old, but he sure didn't show his age on the stage and really enjoyed himself.  (My wife wasn't a fan before the show, but she became one somewhere between "Palace of Versailles" and "Midas Shadow.")  Interesting, funny stories between each song, and he made a particular point of crediting Peter Wood as the true originator of this piece.

His backing band was The Empty Pockets, from Chicago, and they did an excellent job.  In particular, their lead guitarist, Josh Solomon, played all three solo parts in the instrumental bridge of this song.

 


I saw him in February 2018 in a small venue in Atlanta. He's probably in his 70s or so but he still has it. He had a great band and talked about  how he got into music and the songs. The sound was great. Great evening, one of best shows I've seen in the last few years.
Its because he's a Scotsman...The Scots basically invented the modern world ;-)
Even though I know this song by heart, so well that I could sing it without notes, it's still a big favorite.  I don't think that there is a single song from Al Stewart that I don't like.  An amazing artist and talent.  Love this song.
DAMN. Tuned in just to miss this great song from my childhood.
Its the song writing! 

Just think about the opening lines. You see a woman in a silk dress (va va va voom!) and....then see strolling the crowd like Peter Lorre (egads!) 
I mean...that's just freakin too cool.  
 Grayson wrote:
I'd knife anyone say they don't like this song. 

 
Knifing's too good for them.
Great memories of this one too — from WHFS in Bethesda, MD.
A blast from the past. Although totally overplayed in Southern Ontario on CHUM FM
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolour in the rain

...great memories of this song, and listening to KATT "The Kat" out of OKC... miles and miles away... 
An easy 10.
 Grayson wrote:
I'd knife anyone say they don't like this song. 

 
Lol....see my post above 🙆
Ha ha..I love it but I live too far away to be knifed if I said I didn't......had the album back in the day 🙋
I'd knife anyone say they don't like this song. 
This is so redolent of the incredible long hot summer of '76 (in the UK) when I was writing up my master's thesis. However, it was so overplayed at the time that I can clearly remember starting to hate it. Time and nostalgia has mellowed it in my mind.
What a year. The first summer after getting married. Bike rides to the coast with friends. Never ending joy. Ahh... {#Roflol}
BTW, the Friday music remaster of this album is nothing short of stunning.
I did not care for this when it was new, but now I enjoy it....I've mellowed with time.  It was actually released in 1976, my senior year in High School
 folkrocker wrote:
Ahhh. Brings back the wistful feelings of the end of summer 1977. A classic.

 
mmmm... it says here that the album was released in 1978...

{#Ask} 
Ahhh. Brings back the wistful feelings of the end of summer 1977. A classic.
Wow. Neil Tennant totally sounds like Al Stewart
 Lonestar wrote:
Why? Why is this necessary? 
 
Because it lifts many peoples mood (including mine) and leaves them happier at the end than they were at the beginning.
 Gloriastacholy wrote:
Great song! A classic!
 

 
Agree 100%, pulled out the old turntable a few months back, hooked it up what was the first vinyl I played, Al Stewart's Year of The Cat! Timeless!
Great song! A classic!
 
 kylieh wrote:
Yowza, 70's flashback. This was so overplayed on AM radio.

 
Everything, good and bad, was overplayed on AM in the seventies and probably still is.  This is a great song, as are most of Stewart's.