Monday, August 12, 2019

Pop Star, Round 2

Cat Stevens wrote some hit songs as a precocious teenager, almost died of tuberculosis, spent a year in a sanatorium, and emerged as the most reluctant of pop stars. "Don't want to be a pop star," he sang on his comeback album "Mona Bone Jakon." It was okay. It was a morose albeit nearly flawless meditation on mortality and hardly anybody bought it anyway. The next time out, though, he found the perfect formula again; meticulously crafted folk songs that were eminently singable and hummable, and that were perfectly pitched to a generation of weary hippies who were tired of Vietnam and Nixon and more of the same old shit, and who were turning inward. Here he writes and sings an ideal three-minute encapsulation of the age-old inter-generational conundrum. He was a pop star all over again, whether he wanted to be or not. It's what sometimes happens when you write a perfect album, which happened to be called "Tea for the Tillerman."

He stuck around for another seven years, then dropped out for almost four decades to raise a family away from the bright lights. He wasn't kidding. But he was a pop star. He couldn't help himself.

No comments: