How Bob Dylan and a Bogart Movie Inspired Al Stewart’s Rock Classic

The Four Percent


Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat,” released in the U.S. in late 1976, was catchy but enigmatic. Produced by Alan Parsons, the song about a mystical tryst in Morocco peaked at No. 8 on the Billboard pop chart and became a yacht-rock classic.

Recently, Mr. Stewart, who co-wrote the song with the late Peter Wood, talked about the hit’s influences. A 45th-anniversary remastered edition of the album “Year of the Cat” (Esoteric) will be released Friday Edited from interviews.

Al Stewart: In England in the 1960s, comedian Tony Hancock was a national TV sensation. He was self-critical and riddled with anxiety. Playing the underdog was part of his humor and charm.

When I was 20, in 1966, I went to see Hancock perform in Bournemouth. His monologue that evening was all about being a loser and why he may as well end it all right there on stage. The audience roared.

But I had this eerie feeling. What if he was serious? What if he truly was depressed and despondent? In ’68, while touring in Australia, Hancock committed suicide.


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