Cat Stevens

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Now I've been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun.

Yusuf Islam (born Steven Demetre Georgiou on 21 July 1948), also known by his stage names Cat Stevens and Yusuf, is an English musician, singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, educator, philanthropist and convert to Islam.


It seems as if I am making a comeback but I have never really been away.
No right thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action: the Qur'an equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity. We pray for the families of all those who lost their lives in this unthinkable act of violence...
We believe that the civilised world is a multicultural, multi-religious world. That is the type of message we want to get across.
  • It seems as if I am making a comeback but I have never really been away. It’s very strange because the whole attitude changes and everything is turned inside out. Now I am seeing the shiny side again.
  • Art was what I originally started out to do and music came second at first. I had a year at art college but I left because it was too much like school. I give all my paintings away to people I like.
  • Geoffrey Robertson: You don't think that this man deserves to die?
    Yusuf Islam: Who, Salman Rushdie?
    Robertson: Yes.
    Islam: Yes, yes.
    Robertson: And do you have a duty to be his executioner?
    Islam: Uh, no, not necessarily, unless we were in an Islamic state and I was ordered by a judge or by the authority to carry out such an act — perhaps, yes.
  • If Rushdie turned up at my doorstep looking for help, I might ring somebody who might do more damage to him than he would like. I'd try to phone the Ayatollah Khomeini and tell him exactly where this man is.
    • As quoted in "Cat Stevens Gives Support To Call for Death of Rushdie" by Craig R. Whitney, in The New York Times (23 May 1989), p. C18
  • In Islam there is a line between let's say freedom and the line which is then transgressed into immorality and irresponsibility and I think as far as this writer is concerned, unfortunately, he has been irresponsible with his freedom of speech. Salman Rushdie or indeed any writer who abuses the prophet, or indeed any prophet, under Islamic law, the sentence for that is actually death. It's got to be seen as a deterrent, so that other people should not commit the same mistake again.
    • As quoted in "Yussuf Islam, Formerly Cat Stevens, Expresses Support For Rushdie Death Sentence" in The Christian Science Monitor (1989)
  • I'm very sad that this seems to be the No. 1 question people want to discuss. I had nothing to do with the issue other than what the media created. I was innocently drawn into the whole controversy. So, after many years, I'm glad at least now that I have been given the opportunity to explain to the public and fans my side of the story in my own words. At a lecture, back in 1989, I was asked a question about blasphemy according to Islamic Law, I simply repeated the legal view according to my limited knowledge of the Scriptural texts, based directly on historical commentaries of the Qur'an. The next day the newspaper headlines read, "Cat Says, Kill Rushdie." I was abhorred, but what could I do? I was a new Muslim. If you ask a Bible student to quote the legal punishment of a person who commits blasphemy in the Bible, he would be dishonest if he didn't mention Leviticus 24:16.
    • As quoted in "Cat Stevens Breaks His Silence," by Andrew Dansby in Rolling Stone (14 June 2000); Leviticus 24:16 reads : "And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death."
  • I wish to express my heartfelt horror at the indiscriminate terrorist attacks committed against innocent people of the United States yesterday. While it is still not clear who carried out the attacks, it must be stated that no right thinking follower of Islam could possibly condone such an action: the Qur'an equates the murder of one innocent person with the murder of the whole of humanity. We pray for the families of all those who lost their lives in this unthinkable act of violence as well as all those injured; I hope to reflect the feelings of all Muslims and people around the world whose sympathies go out to the victims at this sorrowful moment.
  • We understand the anger, the anguish and suffering which this act of international terrorism has created amongst people.
    What we are worried about is the impact of the wrong kind of response to it. … We believe that the civilised world is a multicultural, multi-religious world. That is the type of message we want to get across. … I think there are many who are Muslims and non-Muslims, who are not warmongers but peace makers and want this world to be a better place.
    We believed the unison of the voices of so many people standing together against international terrorism is something to be valued and something to be built upon.
  • I wanted a break. I had been on the road more or less since I was 18, you know? And I hadn't known any other life, other than, you know, hotel rooms and concerts and records and studios and press conferences. … and to me, here was a chance to jump off that kind of wagon and see life for real. You know, actually my last album was called Back to Earth. So that was the meaning of it. I wanted to join the human race again. I didn't want to be a star. I didn't want to continue with that thing, because so much illusion and non-reality is connected to it. I wanted to be real. And so I — I kind of — I found an opportunity. And the actual point about music was — the imam who I met and who I first embraced Islam with in London's Central Mosque, he actually told me to continue making records.
    • On the abandonment of his music career after converting to Islam, on |Larry King Live (7 October 2004)
  • It seems to be the easiest thing in the world these days to make scurrilous accusations against Muslims, and in my case it directly impacts on my relief work and damages my reputation as an artist. The harm done is often difficult to repair.
  • The last place I wanted to return to was the music business. But it's the people and the cause that matter and right now there's an important need, which is bridge-building. I wanted to support the cause of humanity, because that's what I always sang about.
    Music can be healing, and with my history and my knowledge of both sides of what looks like a gigantic divide in the world, I feel I can point a way forward to our common humanity again. It's a big step for me but it's a natural step. I don't feel at all irked by the responsibility — I feel inspired.
  • I wrote a song called "Father & Son" about the son running off to do his own thing. Now the story is about my son coming back and bringing a guitar into the house. A couple of years ago, one morning after prayers, his guitar was lying around. I picked it up and my fingers knew exactly where to go. I'd written some words and when I put them to music, it moved me and I realized I could have another job to do. Things just grew from there.
    • On producing new music, after shunning the music business for over two decades, as quoted in "The Billboard Q and A: Yusuf Islam" by Nigel Williamson, in Billboard Magazine (17 November 2006)
  • I had to learn my faith and look after my family, and I had to make priorities. But now I've done it all and there's a little space for me to fill in the universe of music again.
    • On getting back into the music business, as quoted in "The Billboard Q and A: Yusuf Islam" by Nigel Williamson, in Billboard Magazine (17 November 2006)
  • A lot of people would have loved me to keep singing … You come to a point where you have sung, more or less … your whole repertoire and you want to get down to the job of living. You know, up until that point, I hadn't had a life. I'd been searching, been on the road.
  • I was a sitting target, in a way, for anybody who wanted to make some kind of headline. … I certainly never supported the Fatwa, but when I was asked about … the actual principle of blasphemy and capital punishment, well, like the Bible, I said, "You know, yeah, it's there, it's in the Koran." And I couldn't deny that.
    • Interview on CBS News Sunday Morning (12 August 2007)
  • A big turning point happened when my son brought back a guitar into the house — You know, 'cause I'd given all those guitars away to charity — way back in 1979 and hadn't really touched the instrument, you know, for like two decades. … So then one day … when everybody's asleep and nobody's watching, I pick it up — and lo and behold, I still know where to put my fingers and out comes this music. I said, "Maybe I've got another job to do." And in this time and period it's probably the best thing I can do because lecturing, politics, God, I've got nothing to do with that. I want to just get heart-to-heart, make sure people understand some of the real subtle beauties of what I've discovered.
  • Here's a chance, I think, for us to kind of remind ourselves, of those things we all commonly enjoy and love and share, try to get back together. You know, singing out for a more peaceful world today, I think, can only do good. … I do believe that … a lot of Muslims have yet to learn, you know, the incredible great history and contribution of Islamic civilization — and its become very, if you like, in some way puritanical — that puritanical approach will become narrower and narrower and even become more fragmented. Its that vast middle ground where people actually live, you know, that we have to reclaim; and in that area, everybody should be able to live together. And I don't think that God sent us prophets and books to fight about these books and these prophets. But they were telling us, actually, how to live together. If we ignore those teachings — whichever faith you belong, you profess, then I think we'll be finding ourselves in an even deeper mess.
    • Interview on CBS News Sunday Morning (30 November 2006)
  • I never called for the death of Salman Rushdie; nor backed the Fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini — and still don’t. The book itself destroyed the harmony between peoples and created an unnecessary international crisis.
    When asked about my opinion regarding blasphemy, I could not tell a lie and confirmed that — like both the Torah and the Gospel — the Qur’an considers it, without repentance, as a capital offense. The Bible is full of similar harsh laws if you’re looking for them. However, the application of such Biblical and Qur’anic injunctions is not to be outside of due process of law, in a place or land where such law is accepted and applied by the society as a whole.
  • In 1989, during the heat and height of the Satanic Verses controversy, I was silly enough to accept appearing on a program called Hypotheticals which posed imaginary scenarios by a well-versed (what if…?) barrister, Geoffrey Robertson QC. I foolishly made light of certain provocative questions. When asked what I’d do if Salman Rushdie entered a restaurant in which I was eating, I said, “I would probably call up Ayatollah Khomeini”; and, rather than go to a demonstration to burn an effigy of the author, I jokingly said I would have preferred that it'd be the “real thing”.
    Criticize me for my bad taste, in hindsight, I agree. But these comments were part of a well-known British national trait; a touch of dry humor on my part. Just watch British comedy programs like "Have I Got News For You" or “Extras”, they are full of occasionally grotesque and sardonic jokes if you want them! … Certainly I regret giving those sorts of responses now. However, it must be noted that the final edit of the program was made to look extremely serious; hardly any laughs were left in and much common sense was savagely cut out. Most of the Muslim participants in the program wrote in and complained about the narrow and selective use of their comments, surreptitiously selected out of the 3-hour long recording of the debate. But the edit was not in our hands. Balanced arguments were cut out and the most sensational quotes, preserved.
  • Life is a journey, you know; and a lot of journeys, you go out, you come back.
    • From an interview with Yusuf Islam on London Tonight, an ITV (UK) television news programme, 8th December 2009

Song lyrics

The first cut is the deepest, Baby I know —
The first cut is the deepest…
  • I love my dog as much as I love you
    But you may fade, my dog will always come through.
  • The first cut is the deepest, Baby I know —
    The first cut is the deepest
    'Cause when it comes to being lucky, she's cursed
    When it comes to lovin' me, she's worst
    But when it comes to being loved, she's first
    That's how I know
    The first cut is the deepest.
I know we've come a long way,
We're changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
It's hard to get by just upon a smile
Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
I'll always remember you like a child…
  • Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry?
    Will you tell us when to live; will you tell us when to die?
    I know we've come a long way,
    We're changing day to day,
    But tell me, where do the children play?
  • I’m looking for a hard-headed woman,
    One who will make me do my best,
    And if I find my hard-headed woman,
    I know the rest of my life will be blessed
    • Hard Headed Woman
  • I know many fine feathered friends
    But their friendliness depends on how you do
    They know many sure fired ways,
    To find out the one who pays
    And how you do
    • Hard Headed Woman
  • Now that I've lost everything to you
    You say you wanna start something new
    And it's breakin' my heart you're leaving
    Baby, I'm grieving
  • Baby, I love you
    But if you wanna leave, take good care
    I hope you make a lot of nice friends out there
    But just remember there's a lot of bad and beware

    Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
    It's hard to get by just upon a smile
    Oh, baby, baby, it's a wild world
    I'll always remember you like a child

    • Wild World
  • Lord, my body has been a good friend
    But I won't need it when I reach the end
    Miles from nowhere,
    Guess I'll take my time
    Oh yeah, to reach there
    • Miles From Nowhere
  • I love everything
    So don't it make you feel sad
    'cause I'll drink to you, my baby
    I'll think to that, I'll think to that
    • Miles From Nowhere
  • I don’t want to work away
    Doing just what they all say
    • But I Might Die Tonight
  • Longer boats are coming to win us
    Hold on to the shore, or —
    They’ll be taking the key from the door
    • Longer Boats
  • I built my house from barley rice
    Green pepper walls and water ice –
    And everything emptying into White
  • So on and on I go, the seconds tick the time out
    There’s so much left to know, and I’m on the road to find out.
    • On The Road To Find Out
  • Then I found my head one day when I wasn’t even trying
    And here I have to say, ‘cause there is no use in lying, lying
    Yes the answer lies within, so why not take a look now?
    Kick out the devil’s sin, pick up, pick up a good book now.
    • On The Road To Find Out
  • It’s not time to make a change,
    Just relax, take it easy
    You’re still young, that’s your fault,
    There’s so much you have to know.
    Find a girl, settle down,
    If you want you can marry
    Look at me, I am old, but I’m happy
  • But take your time, think a lot,
    Why, think of everything you’ve got
    For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not
    • Father and Son
  • It’s always been the same, same old story.
    From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen
    Now there’s a way and I know that I have to go — away
    • Father and Son
  • All the times that I’ve cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
    It’s hard, but it’s harder to ignore it
    • Father and Son
  • Bring tea for the Tillerman,
    Steak for the sun,
    Wine for the women who made the rain come,
    Seagulls sing your hearts away
    ‘Cause while the sinners sin, the children play
    • Tea For The Tillerman
Oh, I've been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Someday it's going to come.
  • I listen to the wind
    To the wind of my soul
    Where I’ll end up well I think,
    Only God really knows
    • The Wind
  • Ruby my love,
    You’ll be my love
    • Rubylove
  • If I laugh just a little bit
    Maybe I can forget the chance
    That I didn’t have to know you
    And live in peace, in peace
    • If I Laugh
  • Don't you feel a change a coming
    From another side of time,
    Breaking down the walls of silence,
    Lifting shadows from your mind.
  • How can I tell you that I love you, I love you
    But I can’t think of right words to say.
  • If I make a mark in time,
    I can’t say the mark is mine
    I’m only the underline of the word
    Yes, I’m like him; just like you,
    I can’t tell you what to do
    Like everybody else I’m searching through
    What I’ve heard
  • And if I ever lose my hands,
    Lose my power, lose my land.
    Oh, if I ever lose my hands,
    Ooh, I won't have to work no more.

    And if I ever lose my eyes,
    If my colors all run dry.
    Yes, if I ever lose my eyes,
    Ooh, I won't have to cry no more.

    Yes, I'm bein' followed by a moon shadow,
    Moon shadow, moon shadow.
    Leapin' and hoppin' on a moon shadow,
    Moon shadow, moon shadow.

  • Now I've been crying lately,
    Thinking about the world as it is.
    Why must we go on hating?
    Why can't we live in bliss?
    • Peace Train
  • Now come and join the living, its not so far from you
    And its getting nearer, soon it will all be true
    Oh peace train sounding louder
    • Peace Train
All I know is all I feel right now,
I feel the power growing in my hair
The name of this album is derived from the fourth of the Ten Bulls (or Ox Herding Pictures) of Zen Buddhism
  • Oh I’m on my way, I know I am,
    Somewhere not so far from here
    All I know is all I feel right now,
    I feel the power growing in my hair
    Sitting on my own not by myself,
    Everybody’s here with me
    I don’t need to touch your face to know,
    And I don’t need to use my eyes to see
    • Sitting
  • Oh I’m on my way I know I am,
    But times there were when I thought not
    Bleeding half my soul in bad company,
    I thank the moon I had the strength to stop
    • Sitting
  • Now I’m not making love to anyone’s wishes,
    Only for that light I see
    ‘Cause when I’m dead and lowered low in my grave,
    That’s gonna be the only thing that’s left of me
    • Sitting
  • As years went by the boy grew high
    And the village looked on in awe
    They’d never seen anything like
    The boy with the moon and star before
    And people would ride from far and wide
    just to seek the word he spread
    "I'll tell you everything I've learned,"
    And "Love", is all he said.
    • Boy With A Moon And Star On His Head
  • She moves like and angel
    And seven evening stars
    Dance through the window
    Of her universal house
    • Angelsea
  • Her breath a warm fire
    In every lovers heart
    A mistress to magicians
    And a dancer to the gods
    • Angelsea
  • Her clothes are made of rainbows
    And twenty thousand tears
    Shine through the spaces
    Of her golden ochre hair
    • Angelsea
  • Sing a song of love and truth
    We’ll soon remember if you do
    When all things were tall
    And our friends were small
    And the world was new
    • Silent Sunlight
  • Oh I can’t keep it in; I can’t keep it in,
    I’ve gotta let it out
    I’ve got to show the world; world’s got to see,
    See all the love; love that’s in me
    • Can't Keep It In
  • Well I rode a while, for a mile or so
    Down the road to the 18th Avenue
    And the people I saw were the people I know
    And they all came down to take a view
    • 18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare)
  • O caritas, O caritas
    nobis semper sit amor
    mos perituri mortem salutamus — ah, ah
    sola resurgit vita
    • O love! O love!
      Be with us always
      We who will perish salute death
      Life alone goes on!
    • "O' Caritas" (co-written with Andreas Toumazis and Jeremy Taylor)
  • Give me time forever here in my time
    • O' Caritas (co-written with Andreas Toumazis and Jeremy Taylor)
  • Underneath her kiss I was so unguarded
    Every bottle’s empty now and all those dreams are gone
    Ah, but the song carries on … so holy
    • Sweet Scarlet
  • All those days are frozen now and all those scars are gone
    Ah, but the song carries on … so holy
    • Sweet Scarlet
  • Where’s it leading to, freedom at what cost?
    People needing more and more and it’s all getting lost
    • Ruins
  • Yesterday I was on the edge
    Hoping everything was going to work itself out
    A good honest man doing the work of God
    Trying to make things better for Him
    A lover of life in a school for fools
    Trying to find another way to survive
    • Music
  • I said, ‘Put back your heart, and sing, sing
    While you know you’re still living.’
    Sing, sing, sing, while you know there’s still –
    New Music, new Music, new Music
    Sweet Music can lighten us
    Can brighten the world – can save us
    • Music
  • Oh very young,
    What will you leave us this time?
    There’ll never be a better chance to change your mind.
    And if you want this world to see better days,
    Will you carry the words of love with you?
    Will you ride the great white bird into heaven?
    And though you want them to last forever,
    You know they never will — you know they never will.
    And the goodbye makes the journey harder still.
  • Sun is the reason
    And the world it will bloom
    ‘Cause sun lights the sky
    And the sun lights the moon
    • Sun C79
  • They crossed the wood and hanged him
    A long time ago
    They still misunderstand him
    Those who don’t know
    And in the evening his love will lead the blind
    In every secret corner there in your mind
    • Jesus
  • I love, I love, I’m ready to love — yes
    • Ready
  • And if my mind breaks up
    In all so many ways
    I know the meaning of
    The words, “I love you”
    • King of Trees
  • I’ve, I’ve had it enough
    All those lonely rooms
    And blank faces
    Had it enough
    And I want you, I want you no more
    • A Bad Penny
  • Come the morning I’ll be far from here
    Slowly rising in another sphere
    • Home In The Sky

Numbers (1974)

  • Dark and empty was the place to which I’d come
    Cold and silent was the house my name was on
    Nine rooms — and a tomb in every one
  • Novim's Nightmare
  • This stranger had the key
    To any door he wished — with his eyes, I say

    What kind of majiks, of majiks?
    What kind of man —
    Can make me turn and see the way I really am?

    • Majik of Majiks
  • One is the ever kindling star
    King of the immortal spark
    In heaven’s eye
    • Monad's Anthem

Izitso (1977)

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out,
And if you want to be free, be free.
'Cause there's a million things to be,
You know that there are.
  • Don’t you remember the days
    Of the old schoolyard
    When we had imaginings and we had
    All kinds of things and we laughed
    And needed love … yes, I do
    Oh and I remember you
    • (Remember The Days Of The) Old Schoolyard
  • I never wanted to be a star,
    I never wanted to travel far
    I only wanted a little bit of love
    So I could put a little love in my heart
    • (I Never Wanted) To Be A Star



Quotes about Yusuf Islam

  • A flight from London carrying the artist we all used to know as Cat Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, was forced to make an emergency landing in Bangor, Maine after his name showed up on a terrorist no-fly list. I tell you, it's a real success story in the war on terror. You know, we finally got the guy that wrote "Peace Train."
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