Matthew and Son
|"Matthew and Son"|
|Single by Cat Stevens|
|from the album Matthew and Son|
|Released||December 30, 1966|
|Format||45 RPM vinyl single|
|Genre||Folk-rock, baroque pop|
|Cat Stevens singles chronology|
"Matthew and Son" is a single written, composed, and performed by Cat Stevens. It was selected as the title song for his debut album named after the song. Stevens, a newly arrived teenage singer-songwriter, was performing for a youthful audience, but during the mid-1960s, the period of the start of his musical career, was seen by his audience initially in the role of a crooner, or a young, foppish, "swinging" version of older celebrities who sang as television performers. This was in comparison to the newly emerging folk-rock genre from the skiffle which had, in part, inspired him to begin writing and performing.
The song, according to Stevens, was inspired in part, by the tailor, Henry Matthews, who made suits for Stevens. He thought up the story of the worker that became the main character in the song.
Another theory is that he noticed a shop-front in Trinity Street, Cambridge, called 'Matthew and Son.' It was an up-market shop that sold grocery provisions, cheeses, coffee and household china. It was on the site that Heffers Bookshop occupied as of early August 2012.
Stevens later commented, "I had a girlfriend, and she was working for this big firm, and I didn't like the way that she had to spend so much of her time working. The riff seemed to fit the words, Matthew and Son. There was a bit of social comment there about people being slaves to other people."
The selection itself is about a business called Matthew And Son; the narrator never describes either the original Mr. Matthew or his son in the lyrics, nor does he explain what kind of business it does. Workers there, some of whom have fifty years of experience with the business, are essentially wage slaves, or peons, and none of them dare ask for raises in their salaries or promotions to higher-paying work despite a commonality of financial hardship ("He's got people who've been working for fifty years|No-one asks for more money 'cause nobody dares|Even though they're pretty low and the rent's in arrears"). They receive few breaks in their routine, and their food is generally poor ("There's a five minute break|And that's all you take|For a cup of cold coffee and a piece of cake").
|Year||Chart||UK Chart Position|
- Cat Stevens - Guitar, Piano
- Alun Davies: Guitar, backing vocals
- John Paul Jones: bass guitar
- Nicky Hopkins: keyboards
- Arranger: Allen Tew