Hard Headed Woman

Album: Tea For The Tillerman (1970)

Songfacts®:

  • Silver-tongued troubadours are often found singing about their search for the perfect woman, describing her as beautiful, compassionate, kind, mysterious, or any number of other alluring adjectives. But hard headed? That's not a description you'll see on many dating profiles.

    Cat Stevens may have been on to something though. The hard headed woman he's looking for will stand up for herself and push him to be the best man he can be. It might not be a storybook romance, but it's more likely to endure.
  • Stevens was just 22 when this song was released, but he had been a celebrity in the UK since his first songs were released at age 18, and he had been though the ringer with love. His most notable relationship was with the actress "Patti D'Arbanville," subject of "Lady D'Arbanville" from his previous album, Mona Bone Jakon. Stevens has never linked D'Arbanville to this song or commented on her hard headedness, but it seems she left him with a clear idea of what kind of woman would be best for him.
  • Stevens isn't the first to sing about a hard headed woman. Elvis Presley had a #1 hit with a song of that title in 1958. Elvis' song is very different though. In that one, he sings about the hard headed women from biblical times (like Delilah and Jezebel) who have been the ruin of soft hearted men.
  • In 1979, two years after converting to Islam, Cat Stevens, who took the name Yusuf Islam, found his hard headed woman in Fauzia Ali, his partner in an arranged marriage. When he reworked the Tea For The Tillerman album in 2020, Yusuf changed the lyric from "I'm looking for my hard headed woman" to "I've found my hard headed woman."
  • Tea For The Tillerman was Stevens' first album to make a strong showing in America, where his style meshed with the '70s singer-songwriter movement. Stevens came off as exotic and whimsical, which helped him pull off songs like this one. It helped that unlike the four ex-Beatles who were flooding the market for British singer-songwriters, Americans had no preconceived notions about him. He didn't even appear on his album covers, which used his own illustrations.

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