After “Mona Bone Jakon”, “Tea because that the Tillerman” and “Teaser and the Firecat” much was changing in Cat’s world and also the road forward would certainly prove come be facility and unpredictable. “Catch Bull” mirrors these obstacles as Cat starts to mine further and deeper into his spiritual core unearthing fascinating lyrical content. 

Oh ns on my way, I know I am, Somewhere no so far from here1

The location of the album, “Catch Bull at Four” is drawn from Kuòān Shīyuǎn’s ‘Ten Bulls’, a Zen series of poems and illustrations exploring an individual’s find for enlightenment and their succeeding return to culture to pass on the wisdom they’ve gained. It couldn’t be an ext clear the Cat to be consciously addressing the subject of his very own spiritual progression. It’s informing that he chose to locate himself in ~ the fourth stage that the process. This is whereby one should use an excellent effort to take organize of the metaphorical bull i beg your pardon will usage all its could to withstand capture. Cat is informing us that he’s aware of the an excellent challenges that he’s facing and also that come seize control will take a determined effort. Yet, he recognises this battle as a necessary stage prior to he deserve to progress forward.

In plenty of ways “Catch Bull” can be viewed as a spiritual development from the previous three albums and also it set the tone because that the music that will certainly follow in the mid to so late 70s. Indeed, the opened track, ‘Sitting’, seems comparable in content to “Tillerman’s” ‘The roadway To discover Out’ with both songs addressing the experiences of a metaphysical journey. However, ‘Sitting’ goes additional than that predecessor by concentrating in ~ above the details of just how Cat to be feeling. It would, the course, take many more years of trying to find Cat to reach the allude of Zen-like fulfilment – exiting the worldly marketplace and also finally transcending the Bull. Nonetheless, here is clear evidence that he already feels the existence of the divine force.

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Sitting top top my own not by myself, Everybody’s right here with me ns don’t need to touch your face to know, and also I don’t should use my eye to see2

The initial lines of this passage highlight that Cat was feeling removed also when in the firm of others. Call and changed circumstances had actually started to different him the end from, no only particular friends and also family but also the normal people of a young man in his mid-twenties. However, in a stylistic strategy that characterises the album, the plays v a plurality that meanings. “Sitting on my own not through myself”3 move from being an expression of emotion alone to reveal that he’s no really suffering solitude together we can imagine; the feels a mindful presence together him in this private space. It’s quite conceivable the his cultivation faith was additionally a aspect in making that feel far-off from others. That must have been fairly unusual, despite not entirely unheard of, come be promoting such spiritual comes to amid the riotous music scene of the early on 70s.

“All I understand is all ns feel ideal now”4 is another crucial line that the tune that more shows how Cat’s spiritual identity was forming. He shows up to be acknowledging his limitations; what he to know is limited what that feels ‘right now’ yet in the future he may grow to feeling and, therefore, recognize more. However, as soon as again the very same line have the right to be taken in a different way, together a statement about being present in the moment. This puts more of a meditative slant upon the delinquent which is regular with Cat’s interest in the techniques of Buddhism in ~ the time.

The bulk of the songs because that the previous 3 albums were written throughout Cat’s post-TB convalescence. However, by the time of “Catch Bull” many of this material had actually been offered up naturally causing a brand-new phase that his writing. Not just did it water level in arguably more lyrical complexity but the arrangements and also overall sound that his music would broaden too. A vital reason because that this advance was the truth that, turn off the back of the colossal success he delighted in in 1970 and 71, he’d started to begin playing in larger arenas to ever before increasing crowds. In response, he felt the should make a bigger sound.

‘Can’t keep It In’ illustration this brand-new fuller sound. As a song, it has actually the significance of the “Teaser” album with its uplifting musical feel and outpouring of love for all things. However, the sonic production has actually a grander scale. Variety of keyboards, complete drum kit and backing vocals all add to the brand-new sound that was start to emerge.

I’ve gained to display the world; world’s acquired to see, see all the love; love that’s in me

Once again, ‘Can’t store It In’ is an example of the multiple class of an interpretation that characterise the album. On the one hand, that a love song to an individual however on the other, it’s expressing love because that the entirety world. Cat is able to expertly weave this two definitions together so that his indigenous equally address both interpretations. In the heat “Why walk alone, why issue / once it’s warmth over here?”6 he’s nearly pleading for a lover to embrace the comfort and also security that he’s offering and also join him in a relationship. Equally, he seems to be calling to the faithless masses, signalling that the course of enlightenment offers definition and a release from the anguish the a materially driven existence: “Oh why? why have to you waste your life away, / You’ve gained to live because that today, climate let it go – oh”7. Again, these sentiments deserve to be regarded through the lens that Kuòān Shīyuǎn’s ‘Ten Bulls’ where transcendence is only attained through letting walk of one’s product restraints. 


As the track progresses Cat appeals come his lover to acknowledge a fact that she knows in her heart however is denying. He admonishes the self-deception the is illustration her native the optimal path and goes more to warn that it “kills the light”8. Maybe this is also a warning that by turning away from reality we risk ending up being blind come God’s presence and thus avoid ourselves from totally flourishing.

Why can’t you say? If friend know, climate why can not you say? You’ve obtained too lot deceit; deceit death the light, Light has to shine; I stated shine light, bright light9

This passage is likewise easily read as a criticism the the state of the world. Involves over man’s stewardship of the earth were existing on previously albums yet in a move that feeling markedly various from the “Teaser”/ “Tillerman” era Cat below seems to zero-in ~ above the motivations that threaten his positive vision the the world. We heard about the “lorry lots pumping petrol gas”10, “jumbo planes”11, “slot machines”12 and ‘skyscrapers”13 in ‘Where execute The youngsters Play’, but their disastrous effects seemed an ext as a result of Man’s general naivety and also hubris: “Get what you desire to if you want, ‘cause friend can acquire anything”14. This time Cat is alluding to something far more malicious which pollutes one’s ethical character: lies and deceit.

Throughout “Catch Bull” we see that the difficulties facing Cat and also the people had handled a far darker and an ext menacing guise than before. Indeed, on multiple occasions he shows up to contemplate defeat, or at least the inability to influence the kind of adjust he had, up to now, to be so positive of. ‘O Caritas’ speaks plainly of this concerns. It was written in addition to Jeremy Taylor, a an excellent friend the Alun Davies and also long-time folk-protest hero that London, who might speak Latin. The usage of this old language offers a specific gravity and also timelessness to its warning.

I don’t want to shed the harmony of the universe I see all things – burning, i hear me – shouting now is the light of the world and also the stars space going out currently does the blame for the disaster loss upon men?15

Another concrete example of this feeling of unavoidable doom can be uncovered in the song ‘Ruins’, a sombre meditation top top a civilization in i m sorry “winter turn on Man”16 and also “Evil damage has taken everything”17. Cat gift a post-apocalyptic vision of the civilization all battered and torn, a snapshot that is to this particular day still all as well familiar. Once again, the blame falls squarely upon Man’s irrepressible avarice.

Where’s it top to, liberty at what cost? people needing much more and an ext And the all acquiring lost i want earlier – I want back, ago to the time as soon as the earth was green and also there was no high walls, and the sea was clean Don’t prevent that sun to bright It’s no yours or mine … no18

The stare of ‘Ruins’ may be set in the future, which clearly implies that something has to be done before it’s as well late. However, it’s notable that Cat doesn’t seem come be together confident the the vision the a reborn people that he presented on earlier albums. Indeed, it may only it is in a semantic suggest but there might be some significance in the reality that the dream the a healthy flourishing planet is being located in a lost past quite than an obtainable future. Numerous of us will be able to identify v this idea; city hall the chances of showing up at a healthier tomorrow for mankind fade v the inevitability of the pure sunset.

In an interview provided after the release of the album Cat dismissed the an adverse visions that he to be presenting.

“Catch Bull was really paranoid. I median ‘Ruins’, the last track? It stated it all”.19

Maybe, yet for the objectives of ours investigation into his spiritual breakthrough I nothing think we have the right to overlook this change in outlook. However, despite his reservations with regards to the fight for the fate the the exterior world, Cat still showed that his positive outlook would prevail in his interior battle. Although ‘Ruins’ close the door the album and, consequently, carries a details significance, it’s necessary not to overlook the an ext positive song on “Catch Bull” together as quiet Sunlight, one of his greatest hymns that eternal hope.


There’ll it is in the evening in the end But till that time arrives You can rest your eyes – And begin again20

There’s undeniably a heightened feeling of passion on “Catch Bull” when compared to the predecessors. It’s actually most obvious in Cat’s vocal style. He adopts a depth and much more gruff tone that will proceed into the complying with albums. The somewhat more visceral 보다 we’ve heard on ahead records and also does much to underpin the sense of yearning the runs throughout the album. However, this is not solely the spirituality yearning that we’ve become accustomed to. There’s great love and romantic sensuality in song such together ‘Sweet Scarlet’ i beg your pardon was written written following a spirited relationship with Carly Simon, the “Gypsy with a grin from and old far away country.”21

Once she came into my room, Feathered cap an’ every Wearing a warmth wool shawl Wrapped roughly her shoulders Two eyes choose lights, Milky marble whites looking up at me trying to find a way; Moons in an countless day22

Like ‘Sweet Scarlet’, ‘Angelsea’ proves the his intimate songs are not story of fleeting encounters or sexual conquest. Cat is plainly of a romantic disposition and forges solid connections with his lovers. They affected him top top a deep level and also were able to break through his defences “Underneath her kiss ns was therefore unguarded”23.

She moves like and angel and also seven night stars Dance with the home window Of her universal house Her voice a crystal echo Lies humming in her soul24

But these relationship were incomplete, fault somehow and it would seem the the crucial factor was that he was yearning because that the deepest of connections. Cat had actually by this time, and also even as at an early stage as ‘Hard headed Woman’, come to acknowledge the he was in search of a partner with who he can share a paradisiacal spirituality home.

And on mine life ns swear my conscience will certainly follow girlfriend forever If you accomplish me everywhere, yes if friend if you satisfy me everywhere25

Perhaps the most daunting of Cat’s romantic visions top top “Catch Bull” is the marvellously complicated ‘Boy through a Moon and Star top top His Head’. On the confront of it, the rigid is that a masculine unfaithful encounter through a gardener’s daughter ~ above the day of his wedding – an event that produce a child who grow to end up being some type of sage. However, the story invites multiple interpretations. That could likewise be the the gardener’s daughter is in reality the masculine to-be-wife and that we’re witnessing your unbridled love prior to marriage. Probably the narrative is an reverse of the Christian story of the immaculate conception and that the boy is a Jesus-like figure. Maybe the girl to represent the love and romance that Cat will experience prior to he ultimately finds his ‘Hard headed Woman’, the one with whom that will achieve spiritual unity.

These kinds of lyrics carry the feel of the Romantic poetry connected with Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Christina Rossetti i beg your pardon lives and also thrives by its ambiguity; symbols and also images mix in the ether to stimulate the audience’s imagination and also emotions. What deserve to be said for certain is the it’s consistent with the sensuality that’s present throughout “Catch Bull” and marks a blossoming of Cat’s passions.

The main image of the star and moon that adorns the young is perhaps a little easier to interpret, though no much less intriguing. If we take the star to it is in the sunlight then combined with the moon that would imply a balancing of opposites; a reconciliation that dualities. Indeed, it’s difficult not to read the boy as a sort of self-portrait. Throughout his spiritual procedure Cat has been rings to lug harmony to his existence and also retain a childlike wonder and appreciation of every things. Fascinatingly, there’s even an ambiguity in ~ the song regarding what the boy actually claims to those seek his word. It could be that “‘Love’ is all he said”26 in which case it feels favor an instruction, or “‘Love is all’ the said”27 which provides it sound favor a discuss unity; the we’re all made native the oneness of a divine love. These two interpretations are certainly not support exclusive yet it’s rather amazing, considering all the class of an interpretation we’ve explored in the lyrics, to find such a deliberate ambiguity bordering the post of this sage child.

Whatever definition is taken from ‘The Boy v the Moon and Star on His Head’, yes a clear sense that it’s the picture of the child that supplies hope and promise for the future; youngsters have the wisdom indigenous which the adults have to learn. He increased upon this id in a Rolling rock interview from the period. 

“Children room closer to it, every little thing it is, the we are from.”28

This love for kids will prosper as a theme in Cat’s work and also fits through the id that the greed and also sin the Mankind have the right to only it is in cleansed by future generations. Adults space warned no to hinder their growth or destroy the civilization that they’ll inherit.

As year went through the boy grew high and also the village looked top top in awe They’d never ever seen anything favor The boy through the moon and star before and also people would ride from far and broad Just to seek the indigenous he spread ‘I’ll phone call you whatever I’ve learned,’ and also ‘Love’, is all he said.

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Before we draw this summary of the spiritual contents of “Catch Bull” to a close that worth showing upon the album art. The 3 previous records featured sheathe designs that were drawn by Cat himself and also that source from his imagination; they were born of his inner reflections. As such, they show a very personal and individualised feeling of his spirituality at that time. It’s touching that the “Catch Bull” cover, though still penned by Cat, division this tradition by portraying the fourth of Kuòān Shīyuǎn’s ‘Ten Bulls’. In the practices and also teachings that Zen Buddhism the had discovered a feeling of guidance that was precious honouring in this way. His personal journey to be being, to an extent, nourished and supported by an outside doctrine. Indeed, whereby the previous three album covers to be two-dimensional images, this new design presented a 3rd dimension. The circular image of the figure and bull sits on a brick wall surface (it was in reality a photo that Cat himself took in his Fulham home where the “Catch Bull image hung over his white piano). The acts virtually as a window through the wall. It’s no inconceivable the the wall represents the restrictions of one’s awareness and also that the main image indicates that if we are able come look with or past these limits, we could see our position in a grander design.Lastly, yes an interesting progression in the photographs the Cat that have accompanied these 4 post-TB albums. Top top “Mona Bone” the portrait was of a reflection in water. The ripples on the water’s surface nearly totally obscure the image. The metaphor of enjoy is relatively straightforward to interpret but it follows that his sense of me is blurred and also not yet fully defined. ~ above “Tillerman” he is posing in nature i m sorry echoes the naturalist involves of the album. However, there’s a feeling of secret in the shot where he shows up deep in contemplation. Through “Teaser” the image meets us face-on i beg your pardon parallels the confidence the colours the album. The being said, yes sir an wait of vulnerability come the photograph; though he trust in his path, by sharing his feelings and also thoughts he leaves himself exposed and also at the mercy of his audience. On “Catch Bull”, however, we have Cat at his happiest and also most relaxed. The portrait catches the charming smile and self-assurance that a guy whose message has resonated in the hearts of millions and also who is in touch with his profound spiritual momentum.

As us reflect upon the increased intricacy of “Catch Bull” it’s important to acknowledge that some fundamental and inescapable transforms had arisen in his people prior to its recording and also release. “Tillerman” had made that a star in many of Europe and the English speak world but “Teaser” had actually propelled him to a new stratum of superstardom. He had actually fame, crucial acclaim, and also wealth come an level that also his most optimistic boyhood me would have struggled to imagine. Life would never, could never it is in the same. The trappings that success had a bearing top top his state of mind and also spiritual reflections. They would likewise led to a brand-new degree the introspection that notified a closer scrutiny of both the internal and external worlds. With significant support indigenous his interest in Zen Buddhism Cat found a method of channelling his bewildering experiences right into his songs; the had managed to seize the bull through the horns and also pit himself versus its wild and untamed force.


– Hallam Kite

References1-4 Sitting – “Catch Bull at Four”, 1972 5-9 Can’t save It In – “Catch Bull in ~ Four”, 1972 10-14 Where execute The children Play – “Tea for the Tillerman”, 1970 15 O Caritas (translation) – “Catch Bull in ~ Four”, 1972 16-18 Ruins – “Catch Bull in ~ Four”, 1972 19 Sounds Magazine, July 14, 1973, composed by coin Valentine 20 quiet Sunlight – “Catch Bull in ~ Four”, 1972 21-23 Sweet Scarlet – “Catch Bull at Four”, 1972 24,25 Angelsea – “Catch Bull at Four’, 1972 26,27,29 Boy v A Moon and also Star ~ above His Head – “Catch Bull at Four”, 1972 28 Rolling rock Magazine, worry 143, September 13, 1973, by Paul Gambaccini