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Yusuf: Still Cat Stevens

Updated on June 27, 2014

Yusuf: Singing Again... and Speaking Out For Peace

Cat Stevens is the name he went by for only a decade of his life, but it's the one he built his music career on, and it's the one many people around the world still know him by today. Yusuf, as he is now known, was born in England in 1948 as Steven Demetre Georgiou. He didn't feel his rather lengthy name was well-suited for album covers, however. And so he selected the name 'Cat Stevens' -- in part because he'd been told he had 'cat's eyes' and in part because... well, people tend to be fond of cats. They became fond of him, too. Cat Stevens became a very successful 70's folk rock artist, with a number of gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums to his credit. He is known for idealistic change-the-world songs -- "Peace Train" -- and for introspective ballads, among them "Father and Son".

In the late seventies, following a conversion to the Muslim religion, Cat Stevens became Yusuf Islam... and walked away from his pop music career. He went twenty-eight years without putting out a new album of popular music. In recent years, he has said that it might have been a mistake to leave his fans hanging, and leave them speculating -- if he had continued with his music career, he believes, people might have had more understanding of him as a person, and of his religion. He emphasizes that he still believes in the famed "Peace Train".

Father and Son -- 1979 - A Transition

Here Cat Stevens performs a song about the generational divide -- "Father and Son" -- for a Unicef 1979 Year of the Child benefit. It would be many years before he would perform again on stage with a guitar.

Yusuf says that, while a portion of the Islamic community does believe that the guitar and other stringed instruments encourage immorality, he find no such ban in the quran. He emphasizes that the choice to step away from his music career was always his own. In the CBS interview (see above), he describes picking up a guitar -- his son's -- for the first time in many years, and realizing his fingers still knew the positionings.

Yusuf Sings "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" - 2007 Performance

"I'm just a soul who's intentions are good..." This song, also featured on "An Other Cup" is a cover -- a bit of a departure for a singer-songwriter who usually performs his own material. I imagine it's a song that speaks to him. As I listen to the words -- "If I seem edgy, I want you to know I never mean to take it out on you... Sometimes I find myself regretting some little thing, some foolish thing that I have done" -- I think of the controversies Cat Stevens/ Yusuf Islam has been enmeshed in over the years.

An Other Cup

Tea for the Tillerman was another era (and an artist of another name). But here's another cup of wistfulness.

An Other Cup
An Other Cup

Purchase includes CD and MP3.

 

Yusuf Islam's Current Projects

There's a time when it would have seemed very unlikely -- if we could have envisioned MySpace at all -- but Yusuf Islam has a MySpace page. He has a homepage as well which details his current projects.

Peace Train, Take This Country - Take Me Home Again

This performance is part of a 2007 interview. Here Yusuf/ Cat sings two different versions of "Peace Train": a classic version and a blues version. The song takes on a new poignancy in wake of the events of recent years -- and because there was a time it looked like the artist would never sing those words again.

...or write it.

If You Want to Sing Out - Sing Out

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    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 

      6 years ago from Benson, IL

      Cool...Other than hearing he got banned from America for a while after 9/11 (unfair I thought), I never really knew what happened to Cat Stevens.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      7 years ago from UK

      Father and son is one of my all time favourite songs. Thanks for the memory

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 

      8 years ago from West Virginia

      I love this lens, Peace Train, Cat Stevens, and that he's singing again. Lensrolled to For Peace.

    • Gloriousconfusion profile image

      Diana Grant 

      8 years ago from United Kingdom

      I just love this lens - I've got the original Tea for the Tillerman LP (still play it sometimes), and one or two others, including a recent Yusuf CD. And I loved hearing all the versions of Don't Let me Be Misunderstood - I've got the original Animals one which I think I prefer, but Yusuf's version is more full of feeling. Thank you so much - this was really unexpected as I rarely play the videos on Squidoo. Stars galore, lensroll and fav.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for this update on Cat, I mean Yusuf. I still love his music and his message. 5*

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      8 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      Lensrolling to Morning Has Broken. I love to hear Cat Stevens. Great job on this lens.

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