Long Road to a New Beginning

Want a left-field recommendation on a “new” artist to check out?  How about this – Yusuf Islam, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens and now performing simply as Yusuf. 



His new release Roadsinger (To Warm You Through The Night) brought Yusuf back to the stage last night in Los Angeles for his first US concert in three decades (save for a small private performance a few years ago in NYC). 

I won’t try to pretend that I was ever a Cat Stevens fan.  Sure, I can remember a few folks at my big public university enjoying a little Peace Train or Moonshadow with their varied selection of mood-altering substances.  Good for them, I thought.  But it never really grabbed me. 

And, of course, Cat Stevens didn’t even really exist anymore.  He had notably converted to Islam in 1977, changed his name, and disappeared from the stage after his final concerts in 1979.

But I have had reason to reconsider his legacy in the years since.  Too many artists that I respect have exhibited their interest in his deeper cuts by covering his songs on record or in concert (such as this epic clip of Eddie Vedder’s take on Trouble). 

Even with that, I had zero expectations when I heard that Yusuf was making a return to secular music.  It was an absolute revelation to listen to An Other Cup, released in 2006, and be drawn to this music that grows better with each listen.

Click here for an insightful interview that Randy Lewis of the Los Angeles Times conducted recently with Yusuf.  It covers a lot of ground, providing more details on how the British-born son (birth name: Steven Demetre Georgiou) of a Greek restaurateur has allowed his life experiences to shape his career, including the inspiration that US Homeland Security provided for the bonus track Boots and Sand.

Roadsinger was released last week and I’ll be the first to admit that an overwhelmingly positive review that references this new release as a “necessity to buy” for anyone who has “ever owned and loved a Cat Stevens album” would have got me rolling my eyes a few years ago. 

Not anymore.  I guess that makes me a convert to Islam, at least of the Yusuf variety.

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~ by acm213 on May 12, 2009.

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