Monday, November 8, 2010

Thanks to Cat Stevens (Music for Mondays)

One of my old "friends" from my teenage years was British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens. I spent hour upon hour listening to his music on my stereo. I loved his acoustic guitar and his hopeful, spirit-infused lyrics. His dark good looks didn't hurt either.

Now Cat Stevens is 62 years old. He famously converted to Islam in 1977 after he nearly died in a swimming accident off the California coast. He goes by the name Yusuf Islam and until 2006 largely abandoned a commercial singing career. I do not share his religious beliefs. But that in no way diminishes my love of the sweet, soul-searching music he made as performer Cat Stevens. Come, give a listen.

Father and Son. The other day, I was cleaning our kitchen and pantry, listening to his old music on Pandora radio. "Father and Son" came on and I  meditated on how  - as the mother of adolescents - our lives have a way of circling back on themselves.

Morning Has Broken. Here is another gem, from 1976, giving praise to God's creation.

Remember Moonshadow? For me, this song has always reminded me to feel the presence of Christ, no matter what my circumstances. "Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light. Did it take long to find me? And are you going to stay the night?"

Another Saturday Night. Compare the sentiments expressed here to those of today's some performers today. The narrator wants to spend an evening with a girl, someone he can talk to, someone he can share his life with.

Where Do The Children Play? I've always been fond of this song. It talks about how we are industrializing the world, and leaving few places for children to play. This song feels truer than when he sang it in his 1976 world tour.

Here he is in 2006, at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, singing Peace Train. I don't share this man's religious views, or his politics. I do share his belief that poverty can beget violence, and his prayer for a world where all God's creatures may live peacefully. I'm reminded what Pope John Paul II once said: "War is a defeat for humanity."