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.