Saturday, April 26, 2008

Cat Stevens Meets Harry Chapin?

The Cat's Not in the Cradle! by DA Jack Hayford

Let's get this straight. Cat Stevens did not write or record "Cat's In The Cradle" despite listings to the contrary on the web and the perhaps natural popular misconception. "Cat's In the Cradle" was written by the late great performing songwriter/activist Harry Chapin. (Actually, the words to the song were written by Chapin's wife, now widow, Sandy Chapin.) Harry Chapin died in a car crash on the Long Island (N.Y.) Expressway in 1981. He was only 38 years old.

I saw Harry Chapin in concert in the 1970s while in college at the University of Florida. The show was held up for almost an hour because Chapin had not yet arrived. When he finally took the stage, he apologized for the delay and explained that his flight into Tampa had been delayed. He had rented a car, he said, and driven from the Tampa Airport to Gainesville in less than an hour and a half. It's well over 125 miles from Tampa International to Gainesville! Man, he was "flying" in that "Taxi." ("Taxi" of course is perhaps Chapin's most famous song.)

Like Harry Chapin, Cat Stevens wrote and recorded some of the greatest songs ever, including, "Wild World," "Moonshadow" and the multiple-time mega hit, "The First Cut Is The Deepest." He has also been covered by some of the most popular artists of our time: Dolly Parton, Rod Stewart, Sheryl Crow ... to name just a few.

Stevens has also frequently been credited with writing "Morning Has Broken" which he recorded on Tea For The Tillerman and with which he is closely identified. "Morning Has Broken" is actually a Christian hymn with lyrics written by Eleanor Farjeon (1881–1965).

Cat Stevens was born in London as Steven Demetri Georgiou in 1948. He took the name Cat Stevens in the late '60s and, after becoming a convert to Islam in the 1970s, he changed his name again, to Yusuf Islam.

Like the late Chapin, Cat Stevens is also known as an out-spoken peace advocate. In fact, his song "Peace Train" has become something of a peace anthem.

The lives and songs of Chapin and Stevens have paralleled to some degree, and they are indeed similar in their folksy, poetic, politically conscious, singer-songwriter styles.

Cat Stevens was back in 2006 with a new album, An Other Cup, under his Islamic name, Yusuf Islam. It met with mixed, but generally luke-warm reviews.

DA Jack Hayford is the editor of the popular music reference website, Mr. Hayford is also the Program Director and co-founder of, the online home of the ten-plus-year old Durango Songwriters Expo, a premier annual educational and inspirational event for aspiring songwriters.

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1 comment:

  1. Hi there,

    I came across your site via linkreferral and thought it was a really great site! Loved snooping around a bit!

    And yeah, I also play the guitar!

    Keep it up.

    Christoff Gouws