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A New Year Breaks For Cat Stevens

Cat’s early 1972 hit ‘Morning Has Broken’ was an attractive version of the Christian hymn published in 1931.

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As 1972 dawned, Cat Stevens was still in the early stages of reshaping his musical persona from the singles artist of the ‘Matthew and Son’ era to sensitive album-maker. But now he was proving that he was both comfortable and popular in both settings.

cat stevens morning has brokenIn the autumn of ’71 the London-born singer-songwriter delivered Teaser and the Firecat, which made good on the promise of his previous albums, Mona Bone Jakon and Tea For The Tillerman, and gave him his first US top ten single in ‘Peace Train.’ That wasn’t a UK chart item, but another track from the LP, ‘Moonshadow,’ became a top 30 entry, as the album started what would become an aggregate of 93 weeks on the bestsellers, by far his longest run.

On the chart for New Year’s Day, 1972, Stevens debuted with ‘Morning Has Broken,’ an attractive version of the Christian hymn published in 1931, with lyrics by English writer Eleanor Farjeon to the Scottish Gaelic tune ‘Bunessan.’ The new rendition featured the elegant piano playing of Yes keyboard wizard Rick Wakeman, and after opening at No. 36, took just three weeks to give Cat his first UK top ten single since that ‘Matthew and Son’ success of fully five years earlier.

Teaser and the Firecat had spent its first seven weeks in the UK top ten, apparently peaking at No. 5. But the new single propelled it to greater heights, and a No. 2 ranking later in January. It went on to an unbroken run of 64 weeks in the UK top 50 album chart. That spring, ‘Morning Has Broken’ also gave Stevens another top ten single in the States, climbing to No. 6 in a 14-week stay, a performance he would repeat exactly in 1974 with his remake of Sam Cooke’s ‘Another Saturday Night.’

‘Morning Has Broken’ is on Teaser and the Firecat, which can be bought here.

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