The Return of Dai Bando: Music Room #5


I bought Cat Stevens Teaser and the Fire Cat for my sister Paula the Christmas of 1972 and years later, regifted it to myself after Paula discarded her turntable.

Every track on Teaser is excellent, my favorite songs being “If I Laugh,” and “How Can I Tell You?” The album also featured three major hits: “Peace Train,” “Moonshadow,” and “Morning has Broken.”

“Morning Has Broken” has extra meaning for me. The lyrics were written in 1931 to an even-older Gaelic tune, by one Eleanor Farjeon. Farjeon was a poet and also an author of children’s books. I used to read Farjeon’s book “Jim at the Corner” to my daughter Caleigh at her bedside. The book’s main character, “Jim”, tells tall tales to children at a corner in his village. His best story is when “Jim” marries a penguin and becomes their king. Hilariously odd, could anything be more of a contrast to the solemn hymn-like “Morning Has Broken,” than marrying a penguin?

Whenever I hear “Morning Has Broken,” then, I think of Eleanor Farjeon, Jim marrying a penguin, and my little Caleigh snuggled in bed.

On the track “Rubylove” (Cat’s nod to his Greek heritage) he features traditional bouzouki and sings a verse in his Cypress-born father’s native language. And thank god for Greeks: lamb souvlaki, dark olives, John Cassavettes’ movies, Platonic relationships, Nana Mouskouri and Cat Stevens.

I remember first seeing the film Harold and Maude at the Warwick Mall (1972 or ’73) with my pal Tommy Tanner. The movie’s soundtrack features Cat’s music throughout, and his song “Trouble” plays during one of the most brilliantly edited film sequences ever, with no dialogue – only music. The lyric “Trouble – please be kind…” was written for Tommy and me.

Some 30 years ago, I remember singing “If I Laugh” with my friend Mike Monti over more than one bottle of wine at a cafe in Siena. What an evening that was, ending with kicking a soccer ball with children in Piazza del Campo.

Teaser and the Fire Cat, thanks for all these memories.

by Dai Bando

Dai Bando appears courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox Pictures

For more by Dai Bando on this site, please see

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