No one in the history of music has had a career quite like that of Cat Stevens. The British singer/songwriter had a run of hits between the late ’60s and ’70s, and his music was memorably featured in the 1973 film Harold & Maude.
Then, in 1977, Stevens converted to Islam, changed his name to Yusuf Islam, and walked away completely from his musical career. The singer stayed away from pop music for nearly 30 years, until returning with a new album in 2006. More recently, the singer has returned to performing his previous songs, even performing under the name “Yusuf/Cat Stevens.”
Now, per American Songwriter, Yusuf/Stevens is revisiting his old music in a way unlike ever before, with a new album called Tea for the Tillerman², in which the singer will grapple his famous 1970 album, Tea For the Tillerman, with 50 years’ hindsight.
Stevens has released a poignant new version, complete with his video, of his song “Father & Son,” in which the present-day Stevens, who is now 72, duets with a 50-year-old recording of himself singing the song. It’s a song about a father and son, at odds about the son’s desire to break away.
“’Father and Son’ feels pretty appropriate for what’s going on right now, if you take the father figure as being the establishment,” Yusuf said, per the site. “However, I don’t think revolutions are that kind to the previous order, its main objective is to turn it around and to get rid of them. Whereas I don’t personally believe in that; I believe in a kind of a change that would not necessarily destroy everything.”
The new album also includes reimagined versions of Stevens songs like “Where Do the Children Play,” “Wild World,” and “On the Road to Find Out.”
I’ve maintained for a long time that Cat Stevens/Yusuf could potentially be the subject of the most fascinating musical biopic in history, but that it’s unlikely Hollywood would ever be interested, since it would be primarily about conviction and religious faith, and not about sex or drugs. In the meantime, however, we’ll have this new album to look forward, and Harold and Maude to watch over and over again.
The Tea for the Tillerman², album is set to arrive September 18.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.