"Year Of The Cat" as written by Wood Peter John, and Al Stewart....
On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don't bother asking for explanations
She'll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat

She doesn't give you time for questions
As she locks up your arm in hers
And you follow 'till your sense of which direction
Completely disappears
By the blue tiled walls near the market stalls
There's a hidden door she leads you to
These days, she says, I feel my life
Just like a river running through
The year of the cat

While she looks at you so cooly
And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea
She comes in incense and patchouli
So you take her, to find what's waiting inside
The year of the cat

Well morning comes and you're still with her
And the bus and the tourists are gone
And you've thrown away your choice you've lost your ticket
So you have to stay on
But the drum-beat strains of the night remain
In the rhythm of the new-born day
You know sometime you're bound to leave her
But for now you're going to stay
In the year of the cat

Year of the cat

Lyrics submitted by kevin, edited by Quebec99

"Year of the Cat" as written by Al Stewart Peter Wood

Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., CARLIN AMERICA INC

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Year Of The Cat song meanings
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  • +11
    General Comment
    One Saturday evening in 1978 whilst studying at Leeds University Al Stewart was due to play in the refectory. It was the Year of the Cat tour. I had never previously heard of Al Stewart. This was to be one of the most memorable concerts I ever attended. During which AL Stewart explained the meaning of the Year of the Cat and indeed many of his other songs. Most importantly the song is about our failure to make decisions. It about a business man/ company executive who is extremely busy and is flying to a destination in the far east ( on business) when his plane has an unscheduled stop. He leaves the plane along with other passengers. He succumbs to this beautiful woman. By the time he wakes up he realizes the plane has gone and will not be back for some considerable time. His life has changed. That time coinciding with the astrological year of the cat. The significant lyric being “you have thrown away your choice and lost your ticket”. It’s not a decision he would have planned but it’s a good turn in his life events. It’s something he would never otherwise have done. Sometimes decisions have to be made for us. It’s therefore also about fate and coincidences .It evokes the fantasy of the perfect person (for that particular moment in your life) just coming up to you (she doesn’t give you time for questions as she locks up your arms in hers and you follow till your sense of which direction completely disappears) and taking control of your life and taking you to a place which your decision making would never take you to.
    lekdee444on July 11, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentA tourist decides to stay in Casablanca after giving into the temptations of a beautiful seductress. He knows that he won't be with her forever but will stay until the end of the 'Year of the Cat' (from Vietnamese astrology)
    Ferthukoon January 25, 2002   Link
  • +3
    General CommentBeautiful, gentle song. I love the imagery of "running like a watercolor in the rain."
    Acey_Deareston April 09, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentYOTC, innocent darling, I believe this entire song has sexual significance behind it

    This is one of the most gorgeous melodies ever created. it wows me every time
    ZinbobDanon January 25, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis person, this man, has escaped from his real life. He has gone somewhere and he has fallen in love....maybe not love but he is totally head over heels for this woman and i think the way they describe this love affair....it almost makes me cry! hah.

    she's wild. she shows him things. bottom line- fabulous song.

    But the drum-beat strains of the night remain
    In the rhythm of the new-born day.....cant get much better than that
    sarahdoesnycon November 01, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General CommentMany wonderful interpretations of the song posted here, each valid to the individual who feels it.

    I subscribe to the sexual adventure/fate taking an unplanned turn idea. The sexual references are so free and natural in the poetic lyrics. But I am surprised that no one has mentioned the instrumental section as an obvious metaphor for lovemaking. The strings start softly like a gentle embrace and exploratory kiss. The Guitar builds on the theme with steadily increasing fervor. A change in modality signals a sharp rise in tension and cellos emphasize a more pulsing beat as passions rise in physicality. As the crescendo reaches it's climax, the saxophone blares out the lovers' cry of release, falling into whimpers of satisfaction. The composition is beautifully erotic as it tells this part of the story without the need for words. Play that section again and note the rise in your pulse and respiration rates.

    The song is a wonderful work of art given for us all to enjoy.
    Stupidity054on July 07, 2011   Link
  • +2
    General CommentI was on the radio when this first came out, doing an overnight show. Often you need to hear a song a few times before it sinks in, but I knew halfway through that this was my new favorite. And it has been for over 30 years now. A friend who works in the business listened to it with me a few years later and we were just marvelling at Al's enunciation, the clearest I've ever heard to be sure. My favorite is when he sings "caaaaaaa...t"; gets me every time.
    PeteyRamoneon February 02, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentSuch a beautiful song. Is it any wonder I chose it as my username? Though, I once heard the bit 'you're still with her' has sexual significance behind it. I sure hope someone proves me wrong.
    YearOfTheCaton December 25, 2005   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAmazing song and it's a shme you don't get to hear it more often.
    kfe2on February 03, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIs there any song that people DON'T say is about drugs...? le sigh.

    I think sugargriz nailed it. This song is a fantasy...in the same way that women have a fantasy of meeting a "knight in shining armor," men have a fantasy of meeting an exotic woman in an exotic place and being swept away into a strange world as foreign as it is dangerous and beautiful. It's about life lived in film noir tones in places hidden from most Westerners, where the romance is watered with world-weariness and the dim smoky air scented with mystery intrigue, full of anachronism and contradiction.

    Even the title, Year of the Cat, is an enigma, being from a lesser-known Vietnamese variation on the Chinese calendar...it sounds both strange yet almost familiar, at odds with the vaguely North African/Near East feel of the setting yet plausible in those places where travelers from everywhere and anywhere come to trade, to conspire, to escape. It's a dreamlike interlude in a man's life, a detour down an unfamiliar alley that breaks him out of his regimented life (bus and tourists) and draws him into an underworld that lies a half-breath beneath the world of the familiar, the safe, the prosaic.

    ...and "a silk dress running like a watercolor in the rain" has to be one of THE most vivid and seductive images ever written, don't you think? ;)
    ShinyAeonon October 15, 2011   Link

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