As another year draws to a close, I started thinking about songs that mention that particular length of time. We play quite a few of them here on The Drive. Let’s dive in.
“Year Of The Cat” — Al Stewart
Al Stewart’s trippy dream song follows the exploits of a tourist in a distant land. Does it have a Tucson connection? As a matter of fact it does. Stewart first heard the chord progression when he was opening for Linda Rondstadt and her piano player was playing it as a warm-up. Stewart used part of what he heard for “Year of the Cat.” Oh, and the title might refer to the Vietnamese zodiac sign that was in effect when Stewart wrote the song, though that story might also be apocryphal.
“Golden Years” — David Bowie
I didn’t know until doing the research for this article that Bowie originally gave this song to Elvis Presley, who turned it down. The King gave the Thin White Duke a note reading, “All the best, and have a great tour,” which Bowie kept for the rest of his life. This song came out right around the same time as “Year of the Cat.” It was the lead single of Bowie’s Station To Station album.
“All Those Years Ago” — George Harrison
This is one of my favorite George Harrison songs, which is saying something because he wrote so many songs I love. Harrison had already written the music for this song when John Lennon was murdered, so he crafted the lyrics as a tribute to his fallen former bandmate. The song also features Ringo on drums and Paul on backing vocals, making it one of very few songs to feature three Beatles without being a Beatles song.
“Reelin’ In The Years” — Steely Dan
Let’s wrap up this installment of Road Trips with a classic by Steely Dan. “Reelin’ In The Years” just missed the Billboard Top 10 in 1972, making it to #11. This upbeat “see ya later” to an ex-girlfriend contains a solo by Elliott Randall that Jimmy Page said was his favorite solo of all time. Game recognize game.
Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping for a much better 2021.