The Chinese Rabbit

Legend has it that the cat was betrayed by the rat during the Great race while crossing the river on the water buffalo, the scheming rat pushed the cat into the river to ensure its place at the top of the list.  The cat and the rat have been mortal enemies ever since then.  The Vietnamese zodiac has a cat instead of a rabbit and ‘Year of the Cat’ is a song by Al Stewart that came out in 1976.  Al was touring in America in 1975 when he heard Peter Wood (who worked with Roger Waters, Cyndi Lauper, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed) play this haunting riff on the piano and he asked if he could write some lyrics to it, and Peter told him to go for it

Initially he wrote a song titled ‘Foot of the Stage’, about an English comedian named Tony Hancock who committed suicide in Australia where the chorus was, “Your tears fell down like rain At the foot of the stage.”  The record company said that nobody ever heard of Tony Hancock and he thought that was annoying, so he changed this song to be about Princess Anne and the new song was called ‘Horse of the Year’ and some of these lyrics were, “Princess Anne rode off On the horse of the year”, however the record company didn’t like that either.  Al had a girlfriend who had a book on Vietnamese astrology, which was open to the chapter called ‘The Year of the Cat’, which Al thought would make a good song title.

He started writing these cat lyrics, “I used to have a ginger Tabby And now I have a ginger Tom The first one made me crabby The new one…” and then he realized that a song with crazy cat lyrics was ridiculous.  His train of thought was lost and then the movie Casablanca came on television and he thought, about using Humphrey Bogart and Peter Lorre to see where it goes.  Peter Wood wrote the music.

This song is about falling in love and succumbing to a beautiful woman in the year of the cat.  The guy is still with her the next morning and he has thrown away his choice and lost his ticket, so he feels like he must stay.  Patchouli is a species of plant from the mint family.  Some people wear patchouli oil just to smell nice, but most use it cover up the scent of marijuana.  Anyway this song came on today, while I was writing and my cat looked at me (see picture above) and told me to turn it up, as this is her favorite song.  My cat is named Bogey, because she was found on a golf course and her twin sister is named Ranger.  A Bogey is a score of one over par and a Ranger is someone that rides around on a cart to speed up play.  Anyway back to the cat, I asked Bogey why this was her favorite song and she said it was because she hated rats and she said that she was named after Humphrey Bogart, so I just turned up the volume, as I didn’t want to argue with her.

On a morning from a Bogart movie
In a country where they turn back time
You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre
Contemplating a crime
She comes out of the sun in a silk dress running
Like a watercolor in the rain
Don’t bother asking for explanations
She’ll just tell you that she came
In the year of the cat

She doesn’t give you time for questions
As she locks up your arm in hers
And you follow ‘till your sense of which direction
Completely disappears
By the blue tiled walls near the market stalls
There’s a hidden door she leads you to
These days, she says, I feel my life
Just like a river running through
The year of the cat

While she looks at you so cooly
And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea
She comes in incense and patchouli
So you…

While she looks at you so cooly
And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea
She comes in incense and patchouli
So you take her, to find what’s waiting inside
The year of the cat

Well morning comes and you’re still with her
And the bus and the tourists are gone
And you’ve thrown away your choice you’ve lost your ticket
So you have to stay on
But the drum-beat strains of the night remain
In the rhythm of the new-born day
You know sometime you’re bound to leave her
But for now you’re going to stay
In the year of the cat

Year of the cat

Written for Ray NotBradbury Cool Writing Prompt ‘Being A Cat’ Challenge


13 thoughts on “The Chinese Rabbit

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