Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Cat Stevens-Yusuf Islam-The other Rumi

After thirty years, Cat Stevens has a new pop album. This is the downside of letting the Democrats win again! Two years ago, the Republicans did the right thing by putting the guy on the "no-fly" list. They claimed it was because he had given to Moslem charities with possible terrorist ties. We all know though that they just didn't want any more whiny pop-folk musicians in America. Now, there's a conservative value that I might vote for.

Even though I personally like Cat Stevens music (I have a CD even and once a year we play it and my wife and I dance around the living room pretending that we hate jumbo jets and that we're on the road to find out), I understood completely. I don't want another generation of kids endlessly explaining to one another "You know a moonshadow is the sign of a tumor in a medical scan. The song really means that he's dying. Isn't that sad and cool at the same time?"

Yes, I made it all the way through Harold and Maude, once. I even went a second time to impresss a girl I liked many years ago- it didn't work. It doesn't mean I want to see a DVD remaster complete with enhanced Cat Stevens soundtrack. Naturally, it was hard for me to see how a guy singing about riding the peace train and who wrote delicate songs about building houses from barley rice and all that other sweet seventies girl stuff, might really be an Islamo-fascist-terrorist. Still, I completely agreed with the general idea of keeping the guy out of the U.S.

It has nothing to do with the singer changing his name to Yusuf Islam and embracing the Q'ran instead of Patti D'arbanville. I'd have thought the same thing if they wanted to bring Peter Frampton, ELO, or stage a Bee Gees revival in this country.
I was fine with all those things back then, but once was enough.

That doesn't mean that I'm fine with the current mainstream status of country music. While I love roots country and even outlaw country, with things like Toby Keith's "Courtesy of the Red White and Blue" once is too much. Can we maybe put him on a plane and send him to the front lines for several weeks of actual duty? I'm sure no one put Toby on the "no-fly" list. Country music used to be about simple people making the best of messed up lives. Corporate country seems to be about people living in a messed up country and letting it happen anyway by letting Jesus take the wheel.

I know at some point, I'll listen to the new Cat Stevens album "An Other Cup", likely through e-mule or you-tube. I know that this is an opportunity for the world to see a Western musician who embraced Islam show us the middle way to international peace and understanding and all that other great stuff, but part of me fights it. It says, "If I ever lose my mind, it'll be because they'll be playing Cat Stevens again everywhere you sit down for a cup of coffee in between takes from Claude Bolling's Suite for Jazz Piano and Flute.

If we're going to have a soundtrack for the future, I just want it to have a bit more kick. I wasn't necesasrily a fan when the guy was alive (I was just too big a nerd), but can't they bring Jimi Hendrix back from the dead instead? I just read this excellent biography, Roomful of Mirrors, Charles R. Cross that details every song Jimi played, every drug he took, and every woman he slept with until he more or less spontaneously combusted at age 27 in 1970 a little bit before Cat Stevens quietly retreated into Yusuf Islam. Now, Hendrix was a musician for the current world-angry, unimaginably fast, loud, untameable!

Of course, the really scary thing as far as I'm concerned is that I'm going to listen to the new album and really like it. Then I'll have to look at myself and think about how my heart hardened in the last 30 years to the possibility that popular music could be sweet, hopeful, and gentle. What happened to that time and that me?



At 11/14/2006 09:41:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let us know what you think when you give in & listen.

At 11/16/2006 10:07:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

will do. I haven't found even an easy sample, though I think it's just a matter of registering for Cat Stevens website and then there's a section that has some samples.

At 11/17/2006 04:12:00 PM, Blogger Dale said...

Peace train sounding louder. Or is that your heart?

At 11/17/2006 04:22:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

Peace Train is sounding louder in US thanks to the elections.....

At this point I'm looking forward to hearing the new Cat Stevens, if only for curiousity....I just don't buy a whole lot of music these days. I figure I spent enough money on the music industry in my time.

At 11/24/2006 08:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

chancelucky, you can listen to the album entirely here:

You don't have to go register at Yusuf's site (yet)...

Please listen to it 8-10 times before you make a judgment. And turn it UP! I love the album, though I didn't at first.

I'm a diehard fan, true, but I think many people will like it if they give it a chance. The Beloved and In the End really stand out for me. And his ITISTL really rocks nicely!

As much as I (like most) wanted "Cat to come back", a small, weird part of me actually misses the strictly nasheed Yusuf. So this is a happy middle ground! ...For many... I think he's done a wonderful, wonderful thing with this album. It's a very touching album, and nicely crafted, technically speaking.


At 11/24/2006 08:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

that's ...


At 11/24/2006 08:17:00 PM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

many thanks for the link. I'll look forward to listening to an Other Cup.
It's good to see that after 30 years the man is still an idealist.

At 12/13/2006 10:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe you will like it because I don't think you ever understood or appreciated Cat Steven's music to begin with. You describe it as syrupy sweet girl's music? Also, if you had any idea of all the charities he has begun and how his own money has been going to back up what he sang of, (for years)you could not possibly agree with our moronic government's decision to keep him out of the country. Or are you one of those politically correct idiots who believe everything our government tells us? Also, Frampton, the BeeGees, ELO, would be a tremendous improvement over rap, hip hop and most of the crap that is considered music these days. Moonshadow was written just because while he was living in Spain he noticed you could really see the moon's shadow there because there was very little electric light where he was at, nothing whatsoever to do with anyone dying. Don't you listen to the lyrics at all? As for Jimi Hendrix, yes he was a fabulous once in a lifetime artist, but he didn't really live much of a life of self discovery and he certainly didn't contribute anything to bettering the world other than his music. In fact, he just sort of selfishly wasted his life in a drug induced frenzy. Lastly, would love to see you try to dance to those tunes from Tea For The Tillerman, no way can you dance to them, they aren't polkas or dance tunes.


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