Friday, April 3, 2015

C is for Cat


In 1948, Steven Georgiou was born in London. He showed an early interest in music, making an attempt to teach himself piano. At age 15, he picked up the guitar and later took a stab at art and cartooning. Personally, I'm glad that he decided to focus on the music because Master Georgiou was destined to become Cat Stevens.
His first hit was I Love My Dog and we all know there's nothing wrong with that sentiment. 

Where do I start? There are so many Cat Stevens' songs that I love. One of his early hits was The First Cut is the Deepest. Every time I hear an artist cover that tune, I marvel at the lyrics and the depth of emotion those words convey.  Lines like:

I would have given you all of my heart
But there's someone who's torn it apart
And she's takin' almost all that I've got
But if you want, I'll try to love again

Peace Train, Two Fine People and Father & Son got heavy play on my old cassette player. Hardheaded Woman and Moonshadow - we can't forget those ones! As a matter of fact,  Morning Has Broken was played at my father's funeral. Cat gets around.

As an older fan, I developed a habit of looking up biographies of musicians. Maybe it's some tangible maturity on my part. 

Cat Stevens had several turning points in his life: a deadly diagnosis of tuberculosis that kept him hospitalized for months made him reflect on his life. He always seemed to be looking for something, even when it looked like he had it all. His intense spiritual pursuits were said to have begun after a near drowning in Malibu, California. Fearing for his life, he cried out to God: "If you save me, I will work for you!

He converted to Islam in 1977 and took the name Yusuf Islam in 1978.

For a period of time, he abandoned his music but reappeared last year for his Tell 'Em I'm Gone Tour and in December 2014, he performed live for an American audience. It was the first time since the seventies.

It's difficult to tell his story in 100-300 words (which happens to be my target size for the A-to-Z). Plenty happened between stardom, conversion, and reappearance; a little controversy, love & loss, a bit of touchy diplomacy. But this is about the music that touched me and my appreciation for the musician. After all, we all know that it's a wild world...


 Here's Cat/Yusuf's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:




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78 comments:

  1. LOVE him. Morning Has Broken was sung at my wedding. Ironically, I just downloaded Peace Train, Wild World, Morning has Broken, and Moonshadow (I have to pace myself with the downloads, I also had some Tom Petty I needed). He has the smoothest voice. I didn't realize he'd written The First Cut is the Deepest...I always hear the Rod Stewart version.

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    1. Elizabeth, we like the same music, I'll bet. Tom Petty is a favorite, too.

      Cat Stevens was THE MAN. Thanks for stopping by!

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    2. No, no... Van was "The Man".

      I loved Cat Steven's too, but don't go breaking...
      the nicknames.

      ~ D-FensDogG
      'Loyal American Underground'

      POSTSCRIPT:
      I'll almost certainly be back with more... great stuffs.

      Delete
    3. Actually, Van is on my list....

      Delete
  2. How many names does a guy need? Steven-Cat-Yusuf. Well, at least he was never a symbol like Prince.
    Unsolicited Factoid From the Teen Years of Al Penwasser: "Morning Has Broken" was the song playing the first time I slow danced with a girl.

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    1. Ah, that is a sweet tale. My first dance with a boy was to Without You by Harry Nilsson. Every time I say that, Hubzam says, "How in the world do you remember that?"

      See? I'm not the only one.

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    2. I wish I could remember the name of the girl with whom I danced. Lois...? I'll NEVER forget that song, though.
      'Without You.' Now THAT song (I love it) reminds me of when my first girlfriend broke up with me in 1972. She left me for a tuba player named Mike in her junior high school. Her name I remember. It WAS Paula. She got married. Not to Mike.
      She's a grandmother now and one of my 'Words With Friends' friends.
      Life really takes some turns, huh?

      Delete
    3. I have no idea why I capitalized "WAS." Her name still IS Paula.

      Delete
  3. I didn't know his name, but I recognized song titles! Also, for your A post because I'm late on reading, loooove the Wilson sisters. I grew up with country and 80's rock, now I listen to that and newer rock (and pop at work).

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    1. Heart was awesome - and Cat Stevens was a powerhouse of the 70s. Thanks for stopping by, Rachel!

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  4. Thanks for stopping by to visit me. Mom says this looks like an interesting series - the music she grew up listening to so far.

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    1. We are probably the same age - I keep telling everyone that I'm a geezer.

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  5. There's no one more religious than a willing convert to any religion.

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    1. It's logical. I don't share his beliefs, but I do respect passion over lackadaisical lip service.

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  6. Peace Train... the first song I fell in love with. Thankfully, not the last.

    I can feel wrinkles and liver spots appearing, as if by magic, lol.

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  7. CHERDO ~
    Before I type another word, I want you to know that I will never ever, Ever, EVER forgive you for making "B" for The Beatles instead of The Beach Boys.

    As long as we're both clear on that point, then we can go on exactly like we ever was and not think of it again. Not a single thing has changed at all... except that I will never ever, Ever, EVER forgive you.

    OK, as we were...

    "C is for Cat Stevens" (not the Carpenters... which I will never ever, Ever, EVER forgive you for... but it's not important so it doesn't matter... except that it is and it does... but we'll just close our eyes, look the other way, and pretend that nuttin's happened between us... even though it has and we'll never be the same again... but it's not important so it doesn--- Hmmm... deja vu!)

    I liked CAT STEVENS back in the day when he was "Cat Stevens". He always reminds me of two things:

    1) There used to be (maybe it's still there) a restaurant right on the Pacific Coast Highway overlooking the ocean, between Santa Monica and Malibu, called 'MOONSHADOWS'. This was in the 1970s. And I had a tremendous crush on a gal named Lisa. We were both working in Hollywood at the time. I always imagined myself taking her on a date to 'MOONSHADOWS'. Alas, I never found the courage to ask her. I much later learned that she had a very unhappy marriage and felt that no guy really "ever wanted her". Broke my heart all over again!!! I was crazy about her, but I was too shy at the time. (Can you even imagine me being "shy"? It's true. I was once the shyest guy who ever was.)

    2) Then there's the Cat Stevens song 'FATHER AND SON'. My two best friends were Marty and Kelly. Marty also did some professional acting work in Hollyweird. We had known each other since high school, and we used to make cassettes - "mix tapes" - for each other. On one of his for me, he included the song 'FATHER AND SON' by Cat Stevens. I already knew the song, but I was happy to have it on one of his tapes.

    He later made a tape for me titled 'ODE TO STEPHEN T. McCARTHY' which included a bunch of songs that he associated with me, personally, and with my personality. If you ever happen to mention any of the songs he included on that particular tape during your A 2 Z postings, I will make it a point to... point it out.

    Marty was killed in Los Angeles by a car thief in 1989, but I still have the cassettes of music he made for me. And, in fact, I saw them earlier today while I was going through that carton looking for some Gospel tapes I have.

    I'm truly enjoying your A 2 Z posts, even though... I will never ever, Ever, EVER forgive you. (Can you live with that? Because I know I can.)

    THE BEACH BOYS RULE THE LETTER "B", and THE CARPENTERS RULE THE LETTER "C" (even though Cat Stevens was The Dog's Meow and The Beatles were... four bugs you should spray and dispose of). Still love me? I know I do.
    [;-)}

    ~ Stephen

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    1. So, are you saying that you WON'T forgive me, because I do have that milkshake waiting for straws.

      I'd like to discuss what the Beatles did to you. I know that John always mentioned something about you... I told Paul that he was just in one of those moods, but he confirmed, "It's bad between John and Stephen..."

      Ringo added, "And I don't even know 'im."

      George replied, "...He doesn't want to hold ANYONE'S hand-a-ah-a-aaand."

      When you wrote about Marty, it reminded me of my cassettes from an old friend. They included references to what mood you should be in when you listen. 'Cause I couldn't figure that one out by myself and I don't want to misstep.

      Final thoughts on the A-to-Z, Cherdo-style: You can only pick one a day! We've got 26 chances to be on the same page.

      Delete
  8. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    It's early in the morning and I feel like I'm already late to the party. Where did you get all these night owl followers? I'm sorry to learn that Stephen T. McCarthy has unfriended you over Beach Boy-gate. Helpful hint: If you want to keep me as a friend, please remember that "D" is for Disco Tex and His Sex-O-Lettes.

    A year older than Shady, Cat Stevens is one of the most distinctive voices of our generation. I don't remember "I Love My Dog." I see in my research book that it only reached the Bubbling Under chart at #118 at Christmas 1966. It was followed by another poor performer, "Matthew and Son," which halted at #115 in the spring of '67. In the spring of 1971, I was winding up my senior year at college when "Wild World" made a run at the top 10 and launched Cat to stardom. I thoroughly enjoyed the intro, acceptance speech and performances in that clip from Stevens' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Not to take anything away from Cat Stevens or any of the other serious minded singer-songwriter types who have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall over the years, I need to point out that "rock and roll" was originally about having fun, raising hell, dancing and romancing. If artists who built careers on making music for the thinking (and feeling) man are deemed worthy of a spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, then why isn't 60 year veteran singer/songwriter/pianist Neil Sedaka, one of the original architects of the sound and spirit of rock 'n' roll? Year after year thousands of Neil's fans petition for his induction and year after year he is rejected, ostensibly on the grounds that he produced "pop" music, implying that pop is not as important or valid as "serious" rock music. Again I emphasize that "rock 'n' roll" was originally created as a style that allowed teenagers to mindlessly blow off steam. It was not intended to be serious, only fun. A couple of years ago, Disco queen Donna Summer was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, implying that pop music giant Neil Sedaka might need to die first before the illustrious induction committee finally breaks down and gives him his props.

    Have a safe and happy weekend, dear Cherdo!

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    1. S-3 ~
      Wasn't Cats' second attempt called 'SANFORD AND SON'?
      As I recall, it was his third (time's a charm) stab at the "relationship" song when he finally settled on 'Father And Son' and struck gold... or platinum.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    2. If D is for Disco-anything, you'll like tomorrow.

      If Stephen has unfriended me, I'll just have to weep in my corner, crushed by the mental mind slap of his displeasure. And besides - his account doesn't know he has unfriended me. It thinks we are fine. :-)

      As for Neil Sedaka, YES YES YES! Why is he NOT in the RnR Hall of Fame? He is no less of a songwriting master than Neil Diamond, Carol King, etc. There is nothing he did that I didn't like. Dum-doobie-do-dum-dum...induction is hard to do. Pop is just popular rock, in my mind. The edgy-est band out there calms down with massive fame. I'm sure it's addictive and they don't want to lose it, but really, I don't care as long as my favs keep pumping it out.

      Have you been to the RnR Hall of Fame? It's awesome. You need to make that trip.

      I'll be back tomorrow with D - have a great weekend, Shady!

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    1. There is no way I could do that and hold my head up, but thanks. Maybe Stephen...

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  10. Always loved Cat Stevens. Enjoy the weekend.

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    1. You, too, Marilyn! Thanks for poppin' in!

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  11. He sounds like a great musician!

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    1. My thoughts! Have a good weekend, pOp TaRt!

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  12. He was a bit before my time, so I never got into his music.

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    1. I listen to Mozart even though he was before my time. It's not too late, Alex!

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  13. Moon Shadow was one of my favorites from Cat...interesting to find out about his life and the changes. His voice is still the same. Have a blessed weekend, dear Cherdo!

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    1. That is such a calming song - love it! Have a good weekend, Linda!

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  14. I've listened to his songs on Youtube, but I think I'll purchase some of them. I love Wild World.

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    1. Me, too! It's is a classic. Supposedly about Patti D'Arbanville.

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  15. Enjoyed the few I've heard from him and the cat can't complain about having the name Cat.

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    1. That's funny...I thought the same thing. ;-o

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  16. I do love me some Cat Stevens. And the Beatles. Looking forward to the rest of your musical alphabet!

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  17. I've heard about him plenty, but never actually listened to his music. Oops!

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    1. Chyrs, you've got some catching up to do for extra credit. :-)

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  18. CHERDO ~
    Shecky Shady Shaft stated that I have "unfriended" you over "Beach Boys-gate" ("Beach Boys-gate" - Ha!-Ha! - I love that White Shaft muhthaf--- Shut my mouth!)

    Technically though, S-3 isn't entirely correct. What I did was DEfriend you and UNfollow you. Despite those drastic measures, you shouldn't notice any changes.

    I'm having fun trying to guess what musical artist or group will come next. And since you and I are the exact same age, and went to high school only about two and a half thousand miles apart, this should be easy.

    Let's see... D is for... D is for...

    D is for Dylan, Doors, or Doobies (the Brother variety).

    I'm gonna guess that D is for Doors. We'll see tomorrow how I did. (D should be for Dylan, but since your spelling has been just a smidge off, I'm going to guess that it remains that way, and D is for Doors.)

    ~ D is for... D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. All your guesses are incorrect! Keep guessing. Think Class of 1977, just out on their own, new music flooding the airwaves...it won't even matter than there's two and a half thousand miles between high schools.

      48 Hours will be calling you for your side of Beach Boy-Gate, ha ha. It may be a murder mystery. Still working out the details.

      Happy Good Friday!

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    2. >>... So, are you saying that you WON'T forgive me, because I do have that milkshake waiting for straws.

      Forgive you? Forgive you for WHAT?! ...Alright, let's get to that milkshake.

      >>... I'd like to discuss what the Beatles did to you.

      Oh, I don't want to relive the whole thing, it's just too painful. But Paul's right, it's especially bad between John and me. ...I don't wanna talk about it.

      >>... You can only pick one a day! We've got 26 chances to be on the same page.

      We're bound to get it right at least once... aren't we? If you answer "YES" with a wink, then I know we're not going to hear ear-to-ear on the letter "Y" either.

      OK, my last attempt at D...
      D is for Donna (Summer), the Queen of Disco.

      No fair that I don't have the Secret Decoder Ring that would solve the mystery of what Shecky Shady Shaft wrote and then deleted. I feel like the kid taking piano lessons while everyone else is out playing baseball.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    3. There's no big mystery surrounding what I deleted, S.T.M. My computer was freezing up because Google Chrome needed updating and I accidentally left the identical comment twice.

      By the way, Dateline's Keith Morrison will be getting in touch with you soon to hear your side of the Beach Boy-gate story. Last night, when Morrison interviewed Cherdo about it, she threw you under the bus!

      Stephen, did you ever see the 2000 made for TV movie called The Beach Boys: An American Family? It's extremely well, done, IMO.

      http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0238064/?ref_=nv_sr_1

      Signed: S-3

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    4. ShecShaSha ~

      Thanks for solving the riddle for me. Based on what she wrote, I was thinking that Cherdo was thinking that maybe I could drink a case of beer by myself and still be capable of holding my head up. I've tried it numerous times but my head always winds up on the living room floor, or hanging low over my white, porcelain throne.

      Yeah, I was sure Cherdo would throw me under the bus in the Beach Boys-gate controversy. Fortunately for her, there's nuttin' that a free milkshake can't make me forgive 'n' forget.

      Sir Shady (I know you're a knight, and it's time I addressed you accordingly), no, I have NOT seen that Beach Boys movie, but now I will make it a point to do so. Thanks for the arrow pointing me in the right direction.

      I really am (and always have been) a big Beach Boys fan. I've even read a couple books about them (the best being 'The Nearest Faraway Place'). I was a big Beatles fan, too, while in high school, but that didn't last like it did for the Beach Boys. (Many folks be unaware what a huge musical influence Brian Wilson and the 'Pet Sounds' album was on The Beatles. It scared Paul almost to death. He thought: "Oh dear me. This is the album of all-time. What are we gonna do?" And he still says, "No one is educated musically until they've heard PET SOUNDS. It is a total classic record that is unbeatable in many ways.")

      I just missed seeing (what's left of) the Beach Boys in concert on March 27th. They were playing in Lake Tahoe and I was going to meet one of my "lady friend" bloggers there for it, but it didn't happen for a couple reasons. That's OK, as I have 7 B.B. CDs to help dry my tears.

      Thanks for the movie suggestion, S-3. I will indeed follow up on it.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    5. Sorry Cherdo stood you up in Tahoe. :)

      I recently watched that BB movie on the Crackle Channel if you happen to have it. It's a two parter. The actor who plays Mike Love nails his mannerisms during stage performances. The movie touches on The Honeys, Charlie Manson, the weasels at Capitol and many other interesting aspects of the Beach Boys story. If you ever get to see it let me know how you liked it.

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    6. Yeah, Cherdo claimed to have gotten tickets to see The Beatles in Vegas on the same date we were supposed to be seeing the Beach Boys in Tahoe.

      Had she said that she managed to get tickets to see Elvis in Vegas it would have been more believable (and more excusable).

      >>... If you ever get to see it let me know how you liked it.

      I sure will, and I sure will.

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    7. I waited and waited for you in Vegas...sadly, it was a tribute band and I could never show my face again.

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  19. It surprised me that Without You has a current and international following. It is a favorite of Juldy, my Korean friend.
    I totally agree with you Shady, Cat's voice is one of the most distinctive I've ever heard.
    Cherdo, I don't care to second guess your choices (and so far I totally agree with your assessments and so will not "de-friend" you (yet...)) but I'm pondering about the letter "X?"

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    1. Yeah, I had to be creative with that one. But I've got it covered!

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  20. I was a huge Cat Stevens fan and saddened by his departure from the music scene. I understand he's attempting a comeback and it will be interesting to see what he's been working on after all these years.

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  21. His music is part of the backdrop of my childhood. I loved his work--found his transformation so strange at the time, but I sort of get it, too.

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  22. I have a record of Cat Stevens that my brother got me back in the 70's and I enjoy listening to it to this day. I did not know the near death misses he had-explains allot

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  23. Oh Cherdo Cherdo it's a wild world. And it's hard to get by just upon a smile. Oh Cherdo Cherdo it's a wild world. And I'll always remember you like a child, girl. I still have one of his albums and an eight track. I can't think of the title of my favorite Cat Stevens' song.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. How Can I Tell You -- that's my favorite

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  24. Glad to see that my favorite Cat song got the first video.

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  25. I agree; he's one of the best. I can't imagine getting through the 70's and adolescence without him. You mentioned great songs. My favorite album is Mona Bone Jakon, and a fantastic song from it is "I Think I See The Light". But then just about every song is his is fantastic, whichever album you pick.

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    1. I have to agree!

      I like that one, too - the vocals are great.

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  26. Stevens music is the kind I enjoy if it comes on the radio but I've never truly been a fan.

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    1. His radio play waxes and wanes. :-)

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  27. My husband and I always used to sing Wild World for people at the hotels we worked in. Everyone loves that song. Cat reminds me of Bob Dylan. Perhaps it's because they're from the same time period. Good luck with the A-Z and have a lovely weekend! :)

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    1. I need to see video of this, Lexa!

      Happy Easter or have a nice weekend, depending on your bend! :-)

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  28. I will never get over my love for Cat Stevens in whatever form he decides to take. His heart speaks so loudly and echoes in my own... Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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  29. Meant to add a thanks for visiting my blog and commenting! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

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    1. You are very welcome, and thank you, too!

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  30. It's confusing keeping up with all of Cat's names! I love his song, If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out from Harold and Maude. His music is timeless.

    Julie

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    1. We should say he has a litter of names.

      I like that song, too!

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  31. I love Cat Stevens, especially "Father and Son."

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  32. Very cool - I didn't know that was Cat Stevens - great post!

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    1. Thanks! Glad to see you on the Flipside. :-)

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  33. Enjoyed all your posts, especially the clips. Cat Stevens and Beatles - favourites over here.

    Best wishes for the rest of the challenge,
    Nilanjana.
    Madly-in-Verse

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  34. I grew up on Cat Stevens. I used to know every word to almost every one of his songs. I have the greatest hits cassette tape but then had to buy the same album on CD. All his songs just take me back to great memories. Peace Train and Moonshadow are my faves.

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Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo