Matthew And Son

Album: Matthew And Son (1966)
Charted: 2 115

Songfacts®:

  • This one is for the harried office worker who diligently toils for the boss, doing his bidding so the company can stay on top while the rank and file never get very far. It's not the coal mines, but day after day grinding away with one a five minute break and a cup of cold coffee can make one miserable. Cat Stevens was born and raised in London, where he saw many of these operations and observed how workers could be treated like chattel while others reaped the rewards.
  • According to Chris Charlesworth's book The Making of Cat Stevens, the specific company that inspired this song was a London firm called Foster Wheeler Power Products. Stevens got the title from sign he saw in a furniture shop window while riding a bus in London. By the time he got to his stop, he had thought up the story of the worker that became the main character in the song.
  • This was Cat Stevens' second single, following "I Love My Dog." He was just 18 at the time and had recently adopted his stage name (he was born Steven Georgiou). Released on the Decca Records imprint Deram, "I Love My Dog" made a respectable #28 in the UK, but "Matthew And Son" did much better, climbing to #2. It was used as the title track to his first album, which contained another hit, "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun," which reached #6. Stevens' next album didn't do nearly as well, and a bout of tuberculosis wiped him out for most of 1968. In the '70s, he emerged as one of the most insightful songwriters in the game, with songs that looked at the world with a wide lens, a reflection of his spiritual journey. He had a number of hits, but none charted higher than "Matthew And Son."
  • About 25 musicians played on this track, including a pre-Zeppelin John Paul Jones on bass and session great Nicky Hopkins (The Rolling Stones, The Who, The Kinks) on piano. Most of the players were part of the orchestra, which was arranged by Alan Tew.
  • In America, this song and "I Love My Dog" both bubbled under on the Hot 100. Americans didn't take note of Stevens until 1971 when his song "Wild World" took off. His US audience, hungry for his brand of gentle, considered songwriting, soon outgrew his UK fanbase.
  • In the UK, this spent two weeks at #2 (starting February 2, 1967), held off the top spot by The Monkees' "I'm A Believer." At the time, Stevens was a rarity in the UK: a solo artist who wrote his own songs.
  • This is the first track on Stevens' 2000 Greatest Hits compilation. After converting to Islam in 1977, Stevens (who became known as Yusuf Islam) made only religious music, but came to accept that his previous work had a lot of meaning and agreed to release it as a Greatest Hits album.

Comments: 9

  • Bill from LondonMatthew and Son is the name of a company that was located across the street from where Cat Stevens went to high school. I know because my mother worked there.
  • Jamie from OhioIf you listen real closely... At the end of the song 'eclipse' from Dark Side of the Moon... After the elder man says... "It's all dark"... Listen- and you will hear this song playing.
  • Del from United StatesZef from La you sound anti semitic. That is ridiculous... the song is based on a firm and he used a local tailor's name. No place for hate in music.
  • Zef from LaIts a song about a stingy Jewish shopkeeper who overworks his employees. Never allowing anyone to relax, always chasing profits.
  • Kat from Adelaide, AustraliaI always think the sound of this song is so mid-sixties London. I like it though - it's aged well.
  • Dan from Los Angeles, CaThe melody of the bridge (the "He's got people who've been working" part) was later "borrowed" for the chorus of the Tears For Fears hit, "Mad World."
  • Jeff Barto from Huntersville, NcYou can hear Cat reference this song years later on the Album "Izitso." During the song "I Never Wanted to be a Star," he opens with "I was seventeen. You were working for 'Matthew and Son.' The Beatles met the queen. And I wrote, 'I'm gonna get me a gun." It was his way of reflecting back on several songs that helped his journey up to this point and this song. An underrated song in my opinion.
  • Adam from Sydney, AustraliaThis song always reminds me of the "Are you being served" theme song. The instrumentation is spot on - brass, harpsichord and chugging bass - and it has that sound that evokes visions of corporate London in the 60's/70's. A catchy tune that is timeless, but definitely from a bygone era.
  • Erin from Austin, TxI love the beginning to this song! It's great on road trips because it starts soft and gets louder and louder.
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