Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Tea For The Tillerman (Again)

Bring tea for the Tillerman
Steak for the sun
Wine for the women who made the rain come
Seagulls sing your hearts away
'Cause while the sinners sin, the children play
Oh Lord how they play and play
For that happy day, for that happy day

 - Cat Stevens

"It is all for the tillerman (the farmer who tills the field all day--a long arduous task). Bring him tea, steak (hearty food: for he worked/will work out in the sun) and finally bring him wine, to drown his sorrows, when he thinks of the women who made the rain come (brought him sadness).

Although the album art shows among other things, a woman (silhouetted) performing a rain dance that is bringing in the literal clouds, I think it's a double meaning, bringing the rain meaning tears of sadness but also the water of life.

I think the song is a farewell to the heavy contemplations of the album, a sunset on that hard day's work. It puts all that stuff behind it, even though all that stuff is... Everything! Work. Love. Play. Music. Sinning. It is saying finally that after all this earthliness, even after the sun has set on life itself, there is still spirituality.

That's why the song is infused with double meaning. The tillerman is not only the plough man but also the steersman of the vessel. Or God directing the fate of men. The homophone son/sun is obviously referencing 'The Son', while wine is considered the blood of Christ in the same theology. Seagulls (who track boats and ploughs alike) are followers who sing their hearts out: disciples perhaps. Sin and innocence in the last couplet goes without saying. O Lord! For that happy day. The last words of the album are 'that happy day', that is without doubt referring to a rapture or day of salvation.

The alpha and omega. The song begins with a command. (in the beginning there was the word). And it ends with that happy day. Salvation.

The song never overtly says it is about spirituality, but it creates a room and fills it with all kinds of life, except for one elephant shaped hole in the middle. That elephant in the room is religion.

You get one chance and wasting it toiling away in the field under the hot sun in anticipation of a paradise in the next life is the way to miss out."

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