It’s been just over five decades since a young British singer-songwriter took the name Cat Stevens and soon found himself atop the world’s music charts. Songs like “Peace Train,” “Wild World” and “Oh Very Young” were simple tunes that became smash hits and helped lead to his 2014 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Now known as Yusuf, following his conversion to the Muslim faith, his latest album, “The Laughing Apple,” recalls his earliest days and even features the first song the 69-year-old ever wrote, reports “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason.
“It’s been 50 years, you know. So like, some of those songs, I just, it’s like I went to the little toy cupboard and took out these songs and then put a new battery in and went, ‘Wow,'” Yusuf said. “You know I just picked up these songs again and they came to life.”
Seven out of the 11 songs on the album come from his early catalog. “Blackness of the Night” originally appeared on his 1967 album “New Masters.”
“It was me growing up in London and looking up at the sky, and looking up at the stars, wondering what’s written for me, you know, what this world’s gonna do to me. So that’s one of the illustrations that you’ll see in the album, is this little boy walking, you know, in the streets of London, with a fez on completely out of place,” Yusuf said of the song.
The young Cat Stevens first aspired to be a cartoonist and drew many of the covers for his hit albums in the 70s, but Yusuf gave up art, music and his old name when he converted to Islam. This is the first cover he’s made in a long time.
“I get to explain the vision of my song much, much clearer through my art,” Yusuf said.
Just as he’s started to draw again, he has returned to touring and made peace with the Cat he once was — putting the name on marquees and albums again.
“I think that’s the whole purpose of coming back. I went through quite a, you know, a kind of distancing from everything that I did before and…