Listen to this song by former ’60s British pop pin-up turned ’70s bearded folky hit-maker Cat Stevens. It’s “The Boy With The Moon & Star On His Head” a spiritual parable positioned as a traditional English folk song. The tune is taken from 1972’s Catch Bull At Four album, his follow-up to the immense Teaser & the Firecat record. Because of the momentum created by that previous release, Catch Bull At Four was his best-selling record.
Cat Stevens had enjoyed some success previous even to his celebrated early ’70s albums as a pop star. He’d changed his name from Steven Georgiou to Cat Stevens in the ’60s, enjoying some success with respectably charting songs in the UK, like “Matthew & Son”, “I’m Gonna Get Me A Gun”, and “I Love My Dog”.
He also would score some success as a songwriter of material for other people, including “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, a hit initially for P.P Arnold, and then for others down the decades (Sheryl Crow, Rod Stewart). Yet, it would be in the next decade where he’d forge his musical path, with a sort of baroque-flavoured folk style infused with a sense of the spiritual.
This tune is certainly one of those, starting off with a scene of ’60s free-love, and eventually turning to a less carnal, and more mystically informed theme of spiritual wisdom, with a prescription for love and connectedness as a pay-off.
In some ways this wasn’t just a song, but it was Stevens’ story as an artist, too. But, how?