THE 1000 BEST SONGS IN THE WORLD EVER.
384-Cat Stevens-Matthew and Son.
1967-Number 2 single.
Best Bit-At 2.24. A lot of people have commented that this songs verse sounds very similar to the 1982 song ‘Mad World’ by Tears For Fears. Cat Stevens made a reference to this at a concert in 2016 while playing Matthew and Son, inserting the lyrics, I think it’s kind of funny, I think it’s kind of strange, yes I think it’s kind of funny, that this sounds the same!’
Yusuf Islam commonly known by his stage name Cat Stevens was born Steven Demetre Georgiou on July 21st, 1948, in Marylebone, London, England. Thinking that his birth name might be difficult to remember, he chose the name Cat Stevens, partly because a girlfriend had said that he had eyes like a cat, and partly because he thought that a potential future American fan base were animal lovers. Stevens initial success was in the UK with the release of his debut Studio Album also called ‘Matthew and Son’ in 1967, but it wasn’t until 1970 with the release of ‘Tea for the Tillerman,’ his fourth studio Album, that he made his breakthrough in America, and becoming even more successful than he was in the UK.
Cat Stevens has been very close to death on two occasions. In 1969 he contracted tuberculosis, and during his recuperation he took up meditation, yoga, and metaphysics, he read about many religions beliefs, and also became a vegetarian. In 1976 he nearly drowned off the coast of Malibu, California, and said he shouted,’Oh God!, if you save me I will work for you.’ He stated that immediately afterwards a wave appeared and took him back to the shore. Stevens then spent time looking in to many religions, and it was after his brother David brought him a copy of the Qur’an as a birthday gift, that he then decided to become a Muslim. He converted to the Muslim faith in 1977,changing his name to Yusuf Islam and then abandoning his musical career for nearly two decades. Yusuf gradually resumed his musical career in the 1990’s, and released his first new Album ‘The Life of the Last Prophet’ as Yusuf Islam in 1995, his first new material in 17 years. His most recent two releases in 2017 (‘The Laughing Apple’) and 2020’s ‘Tea for the Tillerman 2’ were both released as ‘Yusuf/Cat Stevens.’ In total he has released 29 studio Albums between 1967-2020, and 51 singles, of which 10 have reached the UK top 40, and 11 have charted on the Billboard top 40 in America.
‘Matthew and Son’ was the second single written and released by Cat Stevens from his debut Album of the same name from 1967. Two of the notable session musicians who played on the track were the future co-founder of Led Zeppelin John Paul Jones, who played bass, and Nicky Hopkins (1944-1994) who also was a studio session player for artists including The Rolling Stones, and The Who, and appears on this countdown on other occasions, played keyboards.
According to Stevens ‘Matthew and Son’ took it’s name from ‘Henry Matthews’ which was a shop from where he had bought a suit. Stevens has said,’I had a girlfriend and she was working for a big firm, and I didn’t like the way she had to spend so much of her time working.’ The song is about a business where some of the workers who have been there all of their lives are working for poor wages. They can hardly make ends meet, but dare not ask for a wage rise for fear of being dismissed. There working conditions are also inadequate, with short breaks, and poor food provided.
‘Matthew and Son, the work’s never done, there’s always something new. The files in your head, you take them to bed, you’re never ever through.’