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AL STEWART

BIO >>

Al Stewart is a Scottish singer-songwriter ("folkie") who is perhaps best known for his hit song "Year of the Cat." There is much more to him than one song, though it is generally possible to remind someone of who he is by mentioning that song. One of the things he does best is to combine a historical situation with a personal one. An avid collector of French wine, Al has received numerous awards. "I'm running the collection down now, but there are still well over 1000 bottles left. Enough to see me into my senility," he explains. Tori sings background vocals on two tracks, Red Toupee and Last Day Of The Century,and plays piano throughout. Tori has also co-written a track on another Al Stewart Album, Famous Last Words,called Charlotte Corday. The un-released Tori song When I Was Dreaming was submitted to Al Stewart as an audition piece for this collaboration opportunity. Website: Al Stewart


QUOTES >>

"In 1991, i think - well it was 1991, right? I think it was. I got a phone call from somebody and he goes,"Tori my piano player's sick. Will you come to the festival hall and like fill in." And I said, "um, well I do know the song." And so I said, "What's wrong with him." And he goes, "Well, he's got the Russian flu." And I said, "definitely i'll come. Just make sure he doesn't get better." I said, "it's a long train ride for me, so I'm coming in so don't fuck me over." So I show up and um, Al Stewart said to me, "You know you know this, you're the cat song." I said, "Of course, of course. I'm born the year of the cat. I know all about it." And um, I said, "There's only one problem. I can't play as me because, um, I um, have a passport problem." And he said, "Do you really think that anybody from passport control is concerned about what you're doing tonight." I said, "Well maybe you know just maybe. I'm playing this big gig at the Mean Fiddler, and I'm opening for seven people and I can't blow that." And so um, he said to me, "Ok well you'll be Baroness Chupuvskiya." And that's who I was."
-- Tori; VH1 Storytellers

I: If you were to compare yourself with an animal, what animal would you choose?
T: It would have to be feline--is there such a thing as a water buffalo-cat? That means I've been eating too much. Obviously, I'm a Leo. In many Chinise beliefs, this is the year of the cat. That's funny cause I played that for Al Stewart many years ago. I'm a Leo in a cat year-Double Cat. I've always tried to be patient with dogs, but I really don't have the patience for all that licking and jumping. It doesn't come from nowhere; Double cat really defines my nature. Perhaps a cat with fins? I'm very much about living under water--a murk-cat.
-- Tori; SonicNet/Yahoo Chat, Apr 13, 1998

T: Yeah, they say..um somebody taught me once, Al Stewart got me into wine. You know, Year of the Cat
J: Al Stewart, Year of the Cat, of course!
T: And he looked at me and he said you have never had good wine. You know, I'd eh (sniffs armpits)(audience laughs) I don't know what that means but finally I realised he looked at me and said, 'burgendy is for sex, bourdeu is for intellect.' So I have a lot of bourdeu - I need that.
J: Now, okay, like Mad Dog 20/20..what would that be for..(laughs) I'm just curious.
T: ...Um, for my crew. (crowd laughs)
J: Like did you ever preform for Al (chuckles a little bit) did you ever preform with Al Stewart?
T: Yeah, actually.
J: That's my kind of generation - Al Stewart, what year was year of the cat? What year was that?
T: Well, year of the cat is 1963.
J: Ok, it's before my time..(mumbled)
T: That's not when it came out (Jay Leno: No) But he sings about (Jay Leno: Right) year of the cat.
J: Yeah, but when did the song come out? When did i..when did i..
T: I know it's the seventies, you were on drugs see (Jay Leno: Yeah)
-- Tori; Tonight Show w/ Jay Leno, Sep 21, 1999

T: I'll tell you how it all happened. Al Stewart ("The Year of the Cat") asked me to write something for him. The first song I came up with was something that ended up being "Silent All These Years." Obviously, I didn't give it to him. But I did give him something else, and we got on really well. One night he took me, my producer and his girlfriend out to dinner with four bottles in tow -- a Champagne, a Chablis and two Bordeaux. He said Burgundy's for sex, Bordeaux for intellect. Then he asked me if I'd ever had good wine. I told him what I drank and he said, "No, you've never had good wine." I mean it wasn't screwtop, but to him it was absolute crap. We drank all four bottles. I could sit here and drink this whole bottle with you. But I've got to play.
I: So that night was your wine epiphany?
T: That night changed my life.� I had started out with chardonnay.� That's how I opened up to wine, because it's like a milkshake without the dairy, if you know what I mean.� So that Chablis that Al brought along that night changed my whole view of what a white wine was.� And now I'm really getting into Chablis.� I think when Al exposed me to the French side of things --I mean I was coming from the California side because I lived there--I was just blown away.
-- Tori; Wine X Magazine, Dec 98/Jan 99

The man responsible for Amos' affair with fine wines is none other than Al "Year of the Cat" Stewart, who she met as an aspiring rocker girl living in Los Angeles. "He looked at me, and said, 'You've never had good wine!' I said, 'Oh, my god! Is it that obvious?'" Stewart had the singer-pianist and her boyfriend over for dinner one evening, and Amos saw the light. "He brought a white Burgundy and a red Bordeaux up from his cellar, and they completely changed my life. I never thought of grapes in the same way again."
-- Tori; Revolver Magazine, May 8, 2000

"Well, I think what happens is that sometimes you -- I'm given just (plays intro to "Silent All These Years"). And that's all I'm given. That's all that haunts me for a while. And then I decide -- someone calls me on the phone and says, "You know, Al Stewart would really like you to write something." And I say, "Well, I've got this thing." (plays intro again). And then of course, that little (sings part of first line). I knew "My dog won't bite if you sit real still, the antichrist..." (hums rest of line) you see, this is where we get into grey areas. Because all of a sudden you pull back and say, "I don't think I'm going to give that one to Al." I really like him, but all of a sudden, you see, knowing him and adoring him, and kind of getting a sense of him pushed me in a direction with that work, but then it decided to take a turn and become something very, very different. And it lyrically didn't want to be from a man's perspective at all. What I guess I'm saying to you is the songs, I do think, know who they are. And I'm trying to translate this essence. And could it be translated some other way? Yeah, maybe, but I'm trying to -- I believe they exist before I bring them into this form. Just like maybe some writers think their characters do exist, but you find them."
-- Tori; NY Times Critic's Choice interview w/ Ann Powers, 01/02


COLLABORATIONS
Charlotte Corday (co-written with Tori Amos)
Last Day Of The Century
Red Toupee