Monday Melody: Year of the Cat (Al Stewart)


There are some songs you just never grow tired of. I clearly remember the first time I heard Al Stewart‘s “Year of the Cat” because I heard it in a dream. There’s only one other song I first heard while I was asleep and became incorporated into my dream (Lifehouse’s “Halfway Gone,” 2009). There’s something magical about hearing a song in a dream that always remains with you and makes the song seem more special somehow. You almost feel like it came from inside you.

“Year of the Cat”‘s vivid imagery recalls outdoor markets in faraway Eastern places and exotic women in colorful silk dresses. In my dream, during the summer of 1977, I saw all this imagery while on some kind of safari and my male companion–a boy who I had a wild crush on–was serenading me with this song.

I woke up right at the end, during the long instrumental and couldn’t get the song out of my head. I had to have that record, so I rushed out to purchase the 45 RPM. For the next month I listened to it more times than I could count.

It’s a great song, with many layers of instrumentation–violins, piano, guitar,and saxophone, giving it a sensual, even sexy feel. The lyrics are pure poetry. You simply don’t hear lines like “she comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
like a watercolor in the rain” these days.

“Year of the Cat” has a timeless sound and doesn’t sound dated, even 40 years after its release. It could have been made yesterday.

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