Cat Stevens channels Sufi poet for new folk album
Cat Stevens has channeled the Sufi poet Yunus Emre for a song about divine love as he announced his latest album since his return to Western folk pop. "See What Love Did To Me," released on Thursday, is the first single off "The Laughing Apple," which will come out September 15 and mark Stevens's fourth album since he ended a three-decade retreat from music following his conversion to Islam. The song is dominated by the gentle and joyous folk guitar that characterized the English artist's hits in the 1970s such as "Wild World," "Father and Son" and "Peace Train."
Yet Stevens, who also goes by the name Yusuf, adds in global influences. An African lute subtly accompanies his guitar around the chorus, while a bridge halfway through the song reaches into the synthesized string orchestrations of Bollywood. Stevens sings of love as he looks at the miracles of nature and the force of the divine. "I was a blindfolded bumble-bee / And now I see what God did for me / He made me see life flowery," Stevens sings.
In a statement, Stevens said the lyrics were inspired by verses from Yunus Emre, one of the classic poets from Islam's mystical movement of Sufism. Emre, who was born in the 13th century, had a formative influence on the development of Turkish, choosing to write in the language rather than in Farsi or Arabic, which were more common for Sufis. Born in London to a Greek Cypriot father and Swedish mother, Stevens won a wide international following in the early 1970s but said he felt a need for a greater spiritual path. Stevens, who turns 69 on Friday, converted in 1977 and changed his name to Yusuf Islam. He gave few concerts for the next three decades before returning with an album in 2006.
This file photo shows Yusuf Islam/ Cat Stevens performing at the 2016 Global Citizen Festival in Central Park to end extreme poverty by 2030 at Central Park in New York City.