Album: Past, Present and Future (1973)
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  • Michel de Nostredame, known universally as Nostradamus, was a 16th Century French mystic. He is best known for his quatrains which are considered by today's mystics as astounding prophecies but are regarded by skeptics as at worst gibberish and at best as so nebulous they could be interpreted to mean practically anything. As with everything supernatural, the taint of fraud is ever present; after the atrocities of September 11, 2001, bogus quatrains alluding to the destruction of the Twin Towers were circulated.
  • Although Stewart recorded "Nostradamus" nearly three decades before September 11, he appears to have been taken in by other spurious claims, such as references to the rise of Hitler and the Kennedy assassination. That being said, music is art not science, and this epic song, which runs to nearly 10 minutes, is one of his masterpieces. Its lengthy acoustic guitar solo is played with such intensity that it is difficult to credit that it really is only one instrument. When he played this live, unaccompanied, Stewart would showcase his fretboard wizardry to the full. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • The sleeve notes for Past, Present And Future were provided by Erika Cheetham, author of The Prophesises of Nostradamus.

Comments: 4

  • John Cobb from Wilmington, DeI saw Al Stewart booed of stage at the Spectrum in Phil., Pa. He was opening for ELO, and they were late due to bus trouble. I had 5th row seats, and enjoyed Mr. Stewart anyway.
  • Bill from San Francisco, CaAl has stated he doesn't believe in the prophecies, and doesn't care if you do. It was just a good song to write, he claims.
  • Greg from Shelbyville, KyHere are the complete sleeve notes from Past Present and Future:

    The subject of the final song is Nostradamus (1503 to 1566) a provencal doctor and seer, who published his major work of prediction, "The Centuries" in 1555. The book was so called because it was divided into ten parts, each of 100 four line verses, stretching from the date of publication to an indefinite future. Many first editions still exist and there is no doubt as to the authenticity of the text.

    Nostradamus saw that a century after his death there would be a great fire in London; "The blood of the just will be demanded of London, burnt through fire in three times twenty and six." There too was the death of Charles the First; "The English Parliament will put its King to death." The name of Napoleon is revealed in an anagram; "Pay Nay Loron will be more of fire that=n blood.." "The Emperor born bear Italy."

    Then appears a second Anti Christ, Hitler; "Hister, the German of the Crooked Cross." 'Captain of Greater Germanie." He will be followed by a third and terrible Anti Christ, who will come from the East; "The long awaited Anti Christ will never return in Europe, he will appear in Asia." He will be linked with the death of a Pope named Paul (the last one dies in 1621) and with the influence of three brothers. The theme of war is constantly linked with these three brothers born in the New Land of America, who will all three be assassinated; "The Anti Christ will soon annihilate the three", and it will be a long drawn out war of attrition, lasting twenty seven years.

    Indications as to the imminence of this was are that "The West will be at the height of its power" and that it will break out thirteen years after an alliance between two world leaders who are not brothers." Before this Nostradamus sees Britain and France entering into a long and successful union, which may well be interpreted as The Common Market. The only other indication is that war may break out "the year of the great seventh number being accomplished", which would mean at the end of the 1970's, and which would be followed by a time of great slaughter. Even New York itself is not exempt; "The city of hollow mountains" (skyscrapers) will be poisoned through its water supply.

    The visions of Nostradamus of war and doom are similar to those of every prophet through the ages. Perhaps he may yet be honoured in his own country, and his warnings not ignored by future generation.


    The book on which the song "Nostradamus is based is "The Centuries of Nostradamus" by Erika Cheetham, to be published by Neville Spearman Limited, London and Putnams, NY.

  • Greg from Shelbyville, KyAl writes on lyric sheet insert for the album:
    For "Nostradamus I have leaned heavily on the researches of Erika Cheetham, whose book on the subject is shortly to be published, and who has kindly written some sleeve notes for me. Whether or not you believe his prophesies to be true rest with you; but history seems to be on his side.
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