Vicki L. Kroll talked to Al Stewart for the Toledo Free Press:
“I often say I only have two talents in life: I can rhyme just about anything, and I can read a wine list. And as it happens, these are the two things that you need to do my job,” he said and laughed.
Most know the artist for the jazzy, piano-driven “Year of the Cat” with its memorable sax and guitar solos and clever lyrics. The cool song was a surprise hit in 1977 during the disco era.
“We really didn’t see that coming,” Stewart said. “I purposely tucked [“Year of the Cat”] away at the end [of the album of the same name] because I thought it was the least commercial track. I had no idea. I tend to put the long songs at the end.”
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Stewart grew up in Bournemouth, England, telling everyone he was going to be a rock musician.
“I discovered to my horror when I bought an electric guitar that I really didn’t have a talent for it,” he recalled. “I was really hovering in total anguish at 17. Then at 18, along comes Bob Dylan; he pretty much saved my life because he couldn’t sing or play either, but, of course, he was able to unspool these vast amounts of words by, as one of my songs says, ‘throwing them like fireworks in the air.’
“And I thought: I can do that. I can’t do it exactly the same as Bob Dylan, but I get the principle: You buy an acoustic guitar and then you write hundreds of words in songs and turn them into stories. So I sold my electric guitar and became a folk singer.”