The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #92621   Message #1772848
Posted By: Greg B
30-Jun-06 - 12:38 PM
Thread Name: The Wisdom of Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens
Subject: RE: The Wisdom of Yusuf Islam/Cat Stevens
Most of that interview was old hat...done to death by the
biography channel and A&E and VH1. Some of it I found to
be a bit affected...the opening visits to his old home in
SOHO...come on, don't tell us he's not been back in 40
years, he spends a good deal of time in London!

I grew up with his music. It was quite literally a part
of my spiritual formation coming of age in Catholic
school in the 1970's. And I like it; Stevens had a voice
that sounded like a smile.

His music was accessible...your average guitarist or pianist
could play it, and much of it could be sung by the average

It seems everyone approved: us, our parents, priests, nuns,
we all could listen to it and like it. It even started
conversations. Like folk music.

It's too bad that the pop star life and the singer-songwriter
were so at odds. Would he have chucked it all if he'd been
in the embrace of the folk music community rather than hanging
with Hendrix and making himself ill?

I'm glad he's recording again, and seems to have gone moderate.

At the same time, I find a disquieting tendency to continue
to re-invent himself. There is no question that he was a
fundamentalist during the majority of his post-conversion
period. From his manner of dress to his rejection of music
largely and instrumental music entirely, it was quite obvious.

And he was clearly on the side of 'bring about an Islamic world
under Islamic law' as opposed to 'live and let live.'

I find his clarification of his position on the fatwah against
Rushdie inadequate and unsatisfactory. Anything short of 'killing
people for religious reasons is wrong' was inadequate, and
remains so. You can't sing 'Peace Train' on one hand and,
as a high profile Islamic leader wash your hands of Rusdhdie's

On one hand, he seems to be starting to understand that
fundamentalism has its problems, not the least of which is
that it leads to extremism.

On the other hand, I wonder how much of his coming out of
musical retirement may have much to do with temporal needs.
First, there was a 'greatest hits' reissue. Now, he has again
picked up the guitar, that tool of the infidel that spewed
forth six-digit checks for years. And the explanation is
'well, I've since learned that the guitar was introduced
to the Spanish from Muslims.'

This kind of thing is supposed to be new news?

My hope is that he is sincere. That he is beginning to
realize that the inevitable result of fundamentalism
(of any kind) is terrible clashes and human suffering.

When I was halfway through the documentary, I was reflecting
on his taking of the name Yusef...Joseph. I was thinking "gee,
wasn't that about the time when 'The Amazing Technicolor
Dream Coat' was a big hit? I wonder if it was that Joseph
whose name he took?" Then, sure enough, he confirmed that
it was the Jewish patriarch Joseph who inspired him...the
one who was bought and sold.

I hope that Yusef is figuring out that Joseph was a
Jew who is a patriarch of Jews, Christians, and Muslims,
and is perhap taking the time to consider what that means.

Above all, I hope that he will be the one to say to his
brothers in Islam "stop this. We have to stop this business
of trying to establish theocracy." Someone has to, but nobody
is. Which is what leads to angry comments like penguin's above,
I think.