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A CYNICAL LOOK AT THE DAILY GRIND

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A PLACE IN TIME


My only claim to fame was meeting and spending time with singer Cat Stevens when I worked at Disney World in the early '70s.

Cat was a huge pop star with an unbelievable talent for writing music and lyrics. At the time, there was no controversy sounding him or his religious beliefs.

I was just a 20-year-old girl who loved his songs; he was a 23-year-old man who asked me to dinner, and for a moment in time, something clicked.

Sitting together in the normal, but surreal, atmosphere of the Polynesian Hotel dinning room, I remember discussing his songs, and he asked me what I thought "Into White" meant.


I had no answer. He confided that it was about how nothing lasts and that sooner or later we all just fade into white.

It was a very poignant realization for me. I was taken aback that such a young
person, with the world at his feet, would dwell so deeply on death.

Little did I know that later in life - on Sept. 11, 2001, at my mother's death, and yesterday after the Virginia Tech massacre - I would think of that song and wonder ... is it all that simple?

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25 Comments:

Anonymous menuval said...

Diana,

I didn’t know that, among your many other interests, you were once a groupie.

You know, of course, that Cat Stevens changed his name to Yusuf Islam and became a Muslim in 1977.

And that he is well known for his public endorsement of the death sentence issued by Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie in February 1989? "Salman Rushdie, indeed any writer who abuses the prophet or indeed any prophet under Islamic law, the sentence for that is actually death," he said at the time. In addition, he has been barred from entering Israel because of alleged financial aid given to terrorist groups.

Sooner or later we do not all just fade into white. The truth is we all fade into black. Only, Cat Stevens did it earlier than most.

Tue Apr 17, 02:17:00 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Thanks menuval for the history lesson. I'm well aware of who Yusuf Islam is and what happened to him.

However, I've never met or talked to Yusuf Islam.

I did, though, spend a few memorable hours in 1972 talking with Cat Stevens, a young, idealistic man who was one of the hottest male singers of that time. I don't know if that made me a groupie then, but I can assure you thinking back on it, I will fade Into White with a smile on my lips.

Tue Apr 17, 03:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Sofia Murano said...

Life is simple-just plain white-people make it difficult and turn it into black, or grey etc.

Let us pray that most of the world stays plain white-or pure-and the few that don't just go away and fade into dust!

Tue Apr 17, 03:40:00 PM  
Anonymous moon shadow said...

Now that I have lost everything to you, you say you want to start something new ---------------

Oh baby, baby it's a wild world
---------------

memories that just fade to gray

Tue Apr 17, 03:45:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ride the Peace Train, baby! Diana, You rock!

Tue Apr 17, 05:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do know people who have met and talked with Yusuf Islam recently, and he is still pretty much the same idealistic man that you met so long ago.

What a lucky young girl you were to have met Cat Stevens and have a discussion with him about his lovely songs. (That certainly does not make you a groupie.) I think he thought about death more than most young people because he had been so ill with tuberculosis when he was only 19 or 20.

Alot of the rumors about Yusuf are not true. He is still a wonderful person who has helped many people with his charity, "Small Kindness". Did you know he released a new album last November, "An Other Cup", and performed at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, last December? He came to New York last December, also, and gave a concert at "Jazz at Lincoln Center". He gave quite a few radio interviews then, which are available on the net. In fact, the Lincoln Center concert was recorded, and is available at the KCRW website. Here's a link:

http://www.kcrw.com/music/programs/mb/mb061221yusuf

It is a great concert and also interview. Alun Davies is back performing with Yusuf, just like back in the 70's!

Wed Apr 18, 01:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Pete said...

O, Caritas!

I still like Cat Stevens all these years on. I never cared about the allegations of his affiliations. His talent stands on it's own.

It's not time to make a change,just relax take it easy.
You're still young,there's so much you have to go through.

www.CatStevens.com

Wed Apr 18, 05:30:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Diana, did Cat Stevens mention that when he was 19, he almost died of TB?

Thanks for sharing the story, by the way.

Wed Apr 18, 05:44:00 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

I don't remember talking about his TB. I think he was too busy trying to answer all my questions about his songs. I was quite a fan, and I believe I already knew about the TB. I wanted to find out things other people didn't know, so I never brought it up.

At one point he reached over the table and took my hand, and I remember feeling the calouses on his fingertips from playing the guitar. It was like touching something magical, something personal that embodied all those wonderful talents he had, and how he shared his soul through his lyrics with others.

Wed Apr 18, 08:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, his songs still, to this day, make you realize what his life and views were all about.
I went to a catholic high school and we sang his songs in alot of our prayer services and retreats.

Thanks to all of you for some of the lyrics to his songs,and links, I have already clicked on some of the links and enjoyed songs that basically I had forgotten meant so much to me back in high school.

The last words from anonymous, i think is Father and Son? Just saw Rod STeward at MSG, he sang that song while showing films of himself and his kids playing the yard years ago, made me cry! Guess Rod has no problems with who Cat was or is today.

Can only imagine how many father's and mother's too, down in VT, will get some strength from his lyrics!

God bless all the families who lost someone in that horrible tragedy. My heart is breaking for them.

To my fellow Middletown family who lost their daughter, our town and our residents are here for you! Remember the good times and try to smile when you remember your loved one. God Bless....

Wed Apr 18, 09:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Pete said...

"Catch Bull At Four" was Cat Stevens' album that dealt with his illness and was what to have been his impending death.
"O Caritas" which I referenced in my last post dealt with his death.

Wed Apr 18, 09:33:00 AM  
Anonymous fanatic-you and Cat Yusef both said...

sounds like you were/are a groupie diana, despite your protests and David Koresh had his groupies, too and look what happened to that wacko at waco..I am sure Hitler and Osama Bin Laden's childhood friends thought they were " nice idealist young men too"...

Wed Apr 18, 09:56:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As we get older I do think that we are more inclined to agree with that wording...but as a young person I don't think I ever thought about it. I think that a lot of the younger adults are now thinking that if they want something or want to go somewhere, do it now because tomorrow may not be here for them...its sad.

Wed Apr 18, 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lovely memory.Diana.

Wed Apr 18, 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous anonymous said...

Did you sleep with him? sounds like he had ulterior motives...

Wed Apr 18, 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

Ah, inquiring minds ... :)

you're way off track with what this blog is about, which is the mystery of what happens after death.

Wed Apr 18, 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous meow! said...

hey anon, if it were me, I wouldn't be thinking about sleeping!

Wed Apr 18, 06:12:00 PM  
Anonymous sly stevens said...

You answered the question by evading it...

Wed Apr 18, 11:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Missy said...

Diana, could you tell us a little more about where you met Cat? What I mean is, did you meet him at the auditorium after a concert he gave, or did he go to Disney World and you met him there? Yes, inquiring minds do want to know only where you happened to meet!

It sounds like you thought a great deal of Cat and found him to be a very nice person. What lovely memories you have of him. Thanks for sharing.

Thu Apr 19, 09:11:00 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

This thread is way out of line, so this all I have to say... While Disney World may appear to be a Mickey Mouse operation, it isn't. Their employees are closely supervised.

In 1972, women who worked there were not allowed to wear makeup, except for clear nail polish, or wear earrings that dangled. During this time of long-haired hippies, men were not permitted to let their hair grow below the TOP of their ears.

We had to get permission from our supervisor to talk to a hotel guest if it wasn't work related.

My supervisor had to get permission from his supervisor to allow me to even sit down at Cat's table. Before I could do so, I had to go to the employees' underground locker room, clock out and change from my Polynesian costume into street clothes.

In the dinning room, we were watched by hundreds of eyes.
When closing time came, I was escorted to my car by a security guard.

Nonetheless, today I'm very glad those supervisors allowed me to have that time with the popular, international star. It is a wonderful memory that I will cherish for the rest of my life.

And not even you, Sly, can bring it down into the gutter.

That's all folks!

Thu Apr 19, 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Diana said...

Missy, sorry, while I was writing that diatribe I didn't see your post.

Yes, I met Cat at Disney World where he came for a vacation.

All the hotel employees knew he was there, but I first saw him slide down the staiway banister into the main courtyard, which I thought was pretty funny. I went over and asked him for his autograph and said, "I have a cat at home, but he's not as cute as you." Then he asked me what time I got off work.

I had several more hours of my shift before I was allowed to meet with him in the dinning room. I was so excited.

I remember that he was very funny and cordial, and we laughed a lot.

Thu Apr 19, 12:24:00 PM  
Anonymous fancy dancer said...

oh you hard headed woman check this out.

Thu Apr 19, 09:01:00 PM  
Anonymous fancy dancer said...

u lucky woman

Thu Apr 19, 09:04:00 PM  
Anonymous proofreader said...

Disney World has come a long way...now allowing gay commitment ceremonies there...talk about a fairy tale wedding (tail, maybe?)..guess that means Chip 'n Dale and Goofy and Pluto can come out of the closet and legitimize what we've all suspected all these years...could Sesame Street's Bert and Ernie be next?

Thu Apr 19, 11:19:00 PM  
Anonymous Missy said...

Diana, thank you so much for answering my question. It sounds like Cat was alot of fun to talk with and that you had a wonderful time. I have a mental picture of him sliding down that banister. Cute!

I have always felt Cat was a nice person, even though I never met him. I think to be able to write the kind of songs that he did, one has to have a true inner beauty. Your memories of him have reinforced what I had thought. He certainly doesn't deserve the bad press he has gotten in recent years.

Have you heard one of his new songs, "Maybe There's A World"? It is truly a beautiful song about dreaming of the whole world being at peace.

Thanks again for sharing your lovely memories. Sometime you should write a blog about what he told you about the meanings of his songs! I have always loved "Into White". He sings it so beautifully.

Fri Apr 20, 12:45:00 PM  

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