Music Monday: Apple Cider, Sirens, and Nostradamus

Some readers may have guessed who this post is about by the title, others may be wondering what the connection is between Apple Cider, Sirens, and Nostradamus.

The words are all parts of song titles from one of my favorite artists from back in the 70s – Al Stewart.

I’ll get right to his music, playing my favorite Al song – Apple Cider Reconstitution:

According to the web site Songfacts, this song is Al’s fantasy about a couple making love on an abandoned railway station from his boyhood. Stewart was born in Glasgow in 1945 but his widowed mother moved to the South West of England when he was young. By 1952 they were living in a bungalow on a hill at Wilmcote in Warwickshire; the local station had been closed down and seemed overgrown and abandoned. He wrote the song some twenty years after leaving.

Here’s a bit of his bio from Wikipedia:

Stewart is a Scottish singer-songwriter and folk-rock musician who rose to prominence as part of the British folk revival in the 1960s and 1970s. He developed a unique style of combining folk-rock songs with delicately woven tales of characters and events from history. Stewart is best known for his 1976 hit single “Year of the Cat”, the title song from the platinum album of the same name. Though Year of the Cat and its 1978 platinum follow-up Time Passages brought Stewart his biggest worldwide commercial successes, earlier albums such as Past, Present and Future from 1973 are often seen as better examples of his intimate brand of historical folk-rock, a style to which he returned in later albums. Stewart is a key figure in British music and he appears throughout the musical folklore of the revivalist era. He played at the first-ever Glastonbury Festival in 1970, knew Yoko Ono before she met John Lennon, shared a London flat with a young Paul Simon, and hosted at the Les Cousins folk club in London in the 1960s.

Apple Cider Reconstitution and The Sirens of Titan both come from the great 1975 album, Modern Times. The Sirens of Titan was inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s novel of the same name.

One of Stewart’s most unusual song is Nostradamus, in which he sets many of Nostradamus’s prophecies to music. The famous London Fire, Napoleon, Hilter, and the Kennedy’s were all supposedly predicted by Nostradamus. Here is a video with the lyrics. It’s  nearly a ten-minute song, with some great guitar parts:

*image from the Hobbledehoy

44 thoughts on “Music Monday: Apple Cider, Sirens, and Nostradamus

  1. Al Stewart has a very distinctive voice. I hadn’t heard any of these three before, but I’m quite familiar with The Year of the Cat and Time Passages. I especially like the former.

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  2. A great artist to pick for a Monday residency on Borden’s Blather. His music certainly holds its own in an era filled with great folk artists like, Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, Gordon Lightfoot, and many more. I did not know that he had shared a flat with Paul Simon, but I can only imagine the music that come out of the place! Great post in the series, Jim!

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  3. You’ve really picked a winner this week, Jim! I’ve loved Al’s music since the beginning. This reminds me of seeing him at our uni’s folk club, around the time Past, Present, Future was released. A wonderful evening, and a really good era in British folk music – we had some stellar folk acts during my time there. This was up there with the best. I’d go for Time Passages as probably my favourite of his – it has featured in a few of my posts – but how do you really choose from a back catalogue like his?

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      1. A good guess! I have most of his albums, and Apple Music has filled in the gaps. He put on a great show, though it was a couple of years before his career really took off with Year Of The Cat.

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      2. They’re very strange, aren’t they? The one with the flashing lights does make me laugh though. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Lincoln one had been banned over there!

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      3. I’d guess that many would be offended by that, and I’ve still no idea why they did it, unless it was a shock tactic aimed at getting publicity. The fact that it wasn’t a US hit suggests that didn’t work!

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  4. I had forgotten Al Stewart. There is so much good music, and my brain capacity is not big enough to remember a lot of it. The Year of the Cat was very popular and one of the songs I remember fondly along with Time Passages. Great stuff! 😃

    I wonder if 50 years from now today’s generation will be as proud of the music that is so popular today…uh probably. 😄

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