A while ago I posted on retiring my fantasy about singing “Diary” with Alyson Michalka on the David Letterman show.
I’ve got an even older fantasy, however, that is still one of my favorites. This one is about me singing Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” with Tori Amos somewhere in Africa.
I like songs that are “story” songs. And I like songs that allow two singers to alternate singing. I’ve found that many cool songs that aren’t explicitly written for two voices can be re-arranged for two singers. That’s what I’ve done with “Year of the Cat.”
This fantasy begins with me on a small sailboat, doing coastal cruising around the world.
Round-the-world cruising is an interesting topic among sailors. So many sailors have made round-the-world trips and then written books about their cruise that for many years now some sailors have been joking that their goal is to be the first person to sail around the world and not write a book about their cruise.
But most round-the-world trips involve big, blue water passages. You make the trip from continent to continent doing a month-long (or longer!) blue water passage where you live on provisions and never see land until you get to where you’re going. And, for blue water passage-making, you need a boat that will stand up to the ocean because when you’re out there—on ‘the outside’—there usually isn’t anyone you can call for help.
I’ve always thought it would be fun to go round-the-world following ‘the longest coast’—that is, going north and south, up and down the continental shelves all the way around the world.
There’s a great book called “The Hidden Coast” which is photographs of the coastal areas many sailors miss because their boats are built to stand up to blue water pressures and can’t even sail into shallow, coastal waters.
So I’ve often dreamed of taking a well-built small sailboat around the world very slowly, enjoying all the beautiful coastal views many sailors miss.
Back to my fantasy—
Sailing down the east coast of Africa in my little sailboat, I get to some yacht club and Tori Amos is there doing a celebrity vacation thing.
Some evening I’m sitting around my boat playing guitar and Tori is walking by and she stops to listen. We strike up a conversation. I have a little electronic keyboard handy so I invite her to play along. We harmonize a two-person version of Al Stewart’s “The Year of the Cat” and we both have fun.
[Shrugs] These are the kind of fantasies I have. There’s not a lot going on inside my head. Mostly it’s just pleasant stuff like this.
The version of “The Year of the Cat” Tori Amos and I sing and play goes like this, with me singing the regular type lyrics, and Tori joining in for the italic parts:
On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
I was strolling through a crowd
Like Peter Lorrie contemplating my crime
She came out of the sun
Her silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain, and she said,
“Don’t bother asking for explanations
I’ll just tell you that I came
And it’s the Year of the Cat . . .”
She didn’t give me time for questions
She just locked up my eyes in hers
I followed till my sense of ‘which direction’
By a blue-tiled wall
Near a market stall
There was a hidden door
She lead me through, and she said,
“These days I feel my whole life
It’s like a rhythm running through
The Year of the Cat . . .”
When morning came I was still with her
And the bus and the tourists were gone
I threw away my choice
When I threw away my ticket
So I had to stay on
The drum-beat strains of the night remained
In the rhythm of the new born day, and she said,
“You know someday you’re bound to leave me
But for now you’re going to stay
In the Year of the Cat . . .”
[instrumental verse, then Tori sings:]
“The evening came so cool
There was a white light
The full Moon on the sea
The air was incense and patchouli
We stayed there
To find what was waiting inside
The Year of the Cat . . .”