WTIT Tape Radio has always been about the music and our comedy. Our blog, however, is all about our slightly warped humor. I am not sure if I have ever devoted a spot in this space to a single artist. There was a story in the Hartford Courant today about Yusuf Islam. The column not only caught my attention, but also allowed me to get some insight of what an incredibly talented recording artist did at the peak of his career. He just walked away in 1978, while on top. I always wondered why Yusuf did that. Oh, you might remember his stage name. It was Cat Stevens.
“Father and Son”, “Wild World”, “Peace Train” (almost like a Peace Globe, Mims.), “Where Do the Children”, “If You Want to Sing Out”, “Oh Very Young” are just a few of the fabulous songs he wrote. Some songs like “The First Cut is the Deepest”, have been covered by rockers like Rod Stewart and Sheryl Crow. I was a DJ (not just a WTIT DJ, I was in radio back then) and Cat Stevens stated he had become a Muslim and stopped his music. At the time he stated that he felt he could not do both, explore his new-founded (1977) religion and continue to be a performer. Poof. He was gone.
The last couple of times I heard of the singer, (born Steven Demetre Georgiou and raised Greek Orthodox) were right after 9/11 and when Dolly Parton was on The Daily Show with John Stewart. After 9/11 Yusuf was outspoken in his condemnation. Ironicly, he was put on our national “no fly” list. In 2004 he was refused entry into the United States. Dolly Parton did a “duets album" and while Yusuf did not sing with her, she covered a song of his and he played guitar on it.
Close to thirty years later, Yusuf is back. He recently recorded his first rock album since 1978. It is called “An Other Cup”. I have not heard it yet, but I probably will at sometime today. Amazon has a very good interview with him and he sings a bit of “Peace Train” and one of the new songs. He sounds great. Click here to watch the interview and preview the album. It took him a very long time to realize you can be both religious and commercial. I have read a ton of accounts of this story after I put down the paper.
I am not sure if I still fully understand how the former Cat Stevens could just walk away. It really does not matter. Yusuf said his one goal is to help bridge understanding between the Muslim world and the West. He still talks mostly about peace. He is also talking about a tour. Trust me, if it comes to the northeast, I will be there. It is nice to have him back. Welcome back, Yusuf.
Thank you for taking the time to stop by on a busy Friday!