Movies, Music, and Writing

It’s no secret that my all-time favorite movie is Casablanca. What’s not to love about this classic with a cast including Bogart, Bergman, Peter Lorre, Paul Henreid, and Claude Rains? It also contains some fantastic quotes.

“Here’s looking at you, kid.”

“Play it, Sam.” This is often misquoted as “Play it again, Sam.” (Bogart never said that.)

“Of all the gin joints, in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.”

“Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

From a writer’s standpoint, the character arc of Rick Blaine (Bogart) is undoubtedly one of the best. He went from saying, “I stick my neck out for nobody,” to giving up the woman he loved for the greater good.

But long before I first saw the film, a song was written with an opening line that mentioned a Bogart movie. I knew the artist had to be talking about Casablanca. Al Stewart’s “Year of The Cat” and the album by the same title is also a favorite. (On a side note, between my brother and myself, we’ve owned that album in just about every form—vinyl, eight-track, cassette, and CD. I now listen to it via Spotify.)

It wasn’t until years later that I learned Stewart was in fact speaking about Casablanca. Chinese astrology doesn’t have a “year of the cat,” but Vietnamese astrology does. Stewart set two lovers in Morocco in the mid-seventies and had them have a love affair much like Bogart and Bergman in the 1940s.

As many of you know, music often inspires my writing. I recently wrote a short story titled Summerwood. The male lead, Dylan, is a popular music star who returns to his hometown in search of peace and quiet. He also wants to find and make amends with his former girlfriend, Lydia. Here’s an unedited scene:

The crowd started to grow as more merchants arrived to set up their stands. Dylan recognized a few of them like Harley Campbell and George Weaver. No one seemed to notice him.

It wasn’t long before the door to the cafe opened, and Lydia walked out. Seeing her was like taking a breath of fresh air. A ray of sunshine on a cloudy day.

She wore a sleeveless floral-print dress and white sandals. Her blonde hair hung loosely around her shoulders, and she carried a wallet-sized purse. Simple and uncomplicated, much like the lifestyle Lydia had chosen.

Dylan inhaled deeply. He could almost smell Lydia’s signature scent—an exotic blend of patchouli and sandalwood. Never overpowering. Always subtle. And so enticing.

He remained beside the tree as Lydia strolled through the various stalls of the market.

If you’re familiar with the song, “Year of The Cat,” you might recognize a couple of things.

Summerwood is one of thirteen short stories that I plan to publish this year. And if you’re in the mood for a little music, here’s Al Stewart telling the story and singing his megahit, “Year of The Cat.

36 thoughts on “Movies, Music, and Writing

    1. I’m not sure how or when it was changed, Jacquie. For years, I thought it was, “Play it again, Sam.” Confession: when I first heard it wasn’t, “Play it again,” I watched the movie in an attempt to prove them wrong! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Oh, my. This post brought up some wonderful film and music memories. I haven’t thought about The Year of the Cat or Al Stewart in decades. Or Time Passages or On The Border. Fascinating connection to Casablanca. And great excerpt, Joan. I’m looking forward to the book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I loved this, Joan! It’s been years since I’ve watched Casablanca and even longer since I heard The Year of the Cat. What great memories! I didn’t know the backstory behind the song. I think I had Al’s album on 8-track! I know what I’ll be listening to at work tomorrow.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Okay, full confession – I’ve never watched Casablanca. I’ve always meant to, but just haven’t gotten around to it. Hubby has traveled to Morocco for business, is going again this month, and keeps mentioning that was the setting. Seems like the universe is trying to tell me it’s time for a viewing, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s a classic, Teri, and as I said my all-time favorite movie. (One that I hope Hollywood never tries to remake, that would be sacrilege.) My brother visited Morocco a few years ago but didn’t make it to Casablanca. Yes, I think someone’s trying to tell you it’s time to watch the movie. Staci and I stayed after Mae for a long time before she watched it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wonderful excerpt, Joan. I look forward to reading your collection. And…I just might indulge and watch Casablanca again. Loved that movie!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a fabulous post today, Joan. I have not seen Casablanca in years and you’ve made me want to re-watch it. 🙂 I too loved this song but did not know the story behind it. Thank you for sharing, and I can’t wait to read all your short stories!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Joan, I adore this post! I am a HUGE Al Stewart fan. I love the song Year of the Cat (the album too), and never realized it related to Vietnamese astrology. Of course I caught the Bogart reference but never put it all together. Stewart is such an amazing and clever lyricist in addition to being a superb musician.

    The excerpt you shared is fantastic. I love the tip of the hat to Year of the Cat. Wonderfully written! Great share today.

    By the way my favorite Al Stewart song of all time is Roads to Moscow, followed closely by Nostradamus. Now I need to go listen to my Mp3s 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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