Lilywhite

Album: Mona Bone Jakon (1970)

Songfacts®:

  • Cat Stevens once said about the style of violins played at Greek weddings, "It's just the feel of the note." You can hear the violins, especially at the end of this.
  • The title comes from rhyming slang.
  • The song is a betrothal between Stevens and a personified spirit, The Light. Through all the albums that follow, Stevens consistently uses this colour symbol, White. He divides the female figures in his life into spirit, light - white and flesh, blood - red. "Into White" from Tea for Tillerman defines this view of his world. The division starts with his lyrical burial of Patti d'Arbanville on the song "Lady D'Arbanville," where he sings, "This rose will never die," and carries on in "Ruby Love" from Teaser And The Firecat and in "Sweet Scarlet" from Catch Bull At Four. You might ask where are they in Tea for the Tillerman? Alice's chess board has two sides, the wooden Red Queen is a very Hard Headed Woman, and you can find Alice (white) in "Sad Lisa," if you listen carefully (and there are those violins again).
  • The verses of "Lillywhite" use two more symbols: "The Dial"/"Wheel Of Change," which is a reference to the Buddhist concept of cycle, and the "mended road," which is Steven's path/way. Stevens uses numerous examples of "roading" terminology to symbolize the path, starting with his song "On the Road to Find Out."
  • The songs that complete Mona Bone Jakon: "Katmandu," "Time," "Fill My Eyes" and the "LillyWhite" are the most personal and saddest songs he ever wrote. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Glenn - Dunedin, New Zealand, for all above
  • This is British comedian Ricky Gervais' favorite song. He told Stevens that if he ended up on a desert island with one song, it would be this one.
  • Stevens told Mojo magazine June 2009 that this song was the result of "an amazingly bad trip" He explained: "I was at Noel Redding's house, we were on tour and he introduced me to this substance… That was the worst night of my life! It was in his flat in Clapham Common. By the time I got to dawn and I was able to get out of the door it had snowed and it was like looking at an angelic gift from heaven! It was beautiful. Now, the song represents a recapturing of that moment where after darkness comes light."

Comments: 2

  • Stu from Suffern, NyYes, the concept of "the road" is one that appears in several of Cat's songs. How fitting that in a true return to his original folky introspective style (now as Yusuf and some 30+ years later!), he chose to call his latest release "Road-singer".
  • Stegha from Alger, Algeriatoute la profondeur de cet être est presque dans deux chansons 01 - lilly white 02 - trouble .
    le violon dans cette chanson lilly white .........c'est fort . cette ccomplainte de trouble ..............c'est du nectar
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Yacht Rock QuizFact or Fiction

Christopher Cross with Deep Purple? Kenny Loggins in Caddyshack? A Fact or Fiction all about yacht rock and those who made it.

Evolution Of The Prince SymbolSong Writing

The evolution of the symbol that was Prince's name from 1993-2000.

Christmas SongsFact or Fiction

Rudolf, Bob Dylan and the Singing Dogs all show up in this Fact or Fiction for seasonal favorites.

Director Wes Edwards ("Drunk on a Plane")Song Writing

Wes Edwards takes us behind the scenes of videos he shot for Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley and Chase Bryant. The train was real - the airplane was not.

Martyn Ware of Heaven 17Songwriter Interviews

Martyn talks about producing Tina Turner, some Heaven 17 hits, and his work with the British Electric Foundation.

Director Paul Rachman on "Hunger Strike," "Man in the Box," KissSong Writing

After cutting his teeth on hardcore punk videos, Paul defined the grunge look with his work on "Hunger Strike" and "Man in the Box."