- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2013

Yusuf Islam, formerly called Cat Stevens, celebrated his 65th birthday this week. The British-born singer-songwriter was one of the world’s biggest-selling music artists from 1966 to 1974. He changed his named to Yusuf Islam after his conversion to Islam in 1977. He is best known for his albums “Tea for the Tillerman,” “Teaser and the Firecat” and “Catch Bull at Four.” Mr. Islam’s 1980 song “A is for Allah” has 15 million views on YouTube. The List this week looks at Cat Stevens best songs.

  • 10. “Foreigner Suite” (1973) — The “Foreigner” album was not well received by the critics but the eclectic 18-minute “Foreigner Suite” track is a song that grows on you. In 2009, Mr. Islam entered legal proceedings against the band Coldplay for plagiarizing part of the song for its hit “Viva La Vida.” Mr. Islam said he later forgave the band. Part of the “Suite” was used on Mr. Islam’s “Another Cup of Tea” album in 2006.
  • 9. Oh Very Young (1974) — This touching and sensitive song about cherishing the moments of youth was Cat Stevens’ third Top 10 song on the Billboard charts reaching No 10. It appeared on the “Buddha and the Chocolate Box” album.
  • 8. Matthew and Son (1967) — This was the title single for 18-year-old Cat Stevens’ debut album which was recorded with an orchestra. The cleverly written song is about the plight of a worker at a large firm. It was Mr. Stevens first big hit before his “folk period” and reached No. 2 in the U.K. and his second single after “I Love My Dog.” It appeared on “The Very Best of Cat Stevens” album in 2000.
  • 7. How Can I Tell You (1971) — The “Teaser and the Firecat” album, which included this delightful love song, was a stunning commercial success reaching both the U.S. and U.K. top three spots.
  • 6. Father and Son (1970) — This touching song about generational conflict between a father and son was the 10th track on the “Tea for the Tillerman” album. Decades later, the song just missed out on the coveted Christmas No. 1 single spot in the U.K. in 2004 after Mr. Islam and former Boyzone star Ronan Keating recorded it as a duo.
  • 5. Moonshadow (1971) — Growing up in the city with bright lights, Cat Stevens said he never really noticed the moon until he was on holiday in Spain and saw his shadow reflected on the water in the moonlight. He has since said that this is his favorite song. The song reached No. 30 in the U.S. and No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary charts, and No. 22 in the U.K.
  • 4. Morning Has Broken (1972) — This beautiful rendition of the well-known 1931 Christian hymn has become so popular that Cat Stevens erroneously has been credited with writing it. It was a No. 6 hit in the U.S. and reached No. 9 in the U.K. Rick Wakeman of the band Yes contributed to the song. Along with his 1974 hit “Another Saturday Night,” it was Mr. Stevens’ highest-charting song in America.
  • 3. First Cut is the Deepest (1967) — Cat Stevens wrote this song for his 1967 “New Masters’” album which bombed in the U.K. He never released the song as a single but sold the song for 30 English pounds to soul singer P.P. Arnold. The song was later a huge hit for Rod Stewart, James Morrison and Sheryl Crow.
  • 2. Peace Train (1971) — This was Cat Stevens’ first Top 10 hit in the U.S., reaching No. 7 and No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary list. It was the second hit single from the album “Teaser and the Firecat.” The singer performed the song at John Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” in 2010.
  • 1. “Wild World” (1971) — This was Cat Stevens’ breakthrough song in the U.S. and his first big hit in America. It was the advance single for his best known album “Tea for the Tillerman,” and reached No. 11 on the charts. It was his first big song after he had recovered from a bout with tuberculosis which he contracted in 1969.

Bonus track: “I Love My Dog” (1966) — This catchy tune was Cat Stevens’ first single from his debut album “Matthew and Son.” It was inspired by jazz musician Yusef Lateef’s “The Plum Blossom.”

What’s your favorite Cat Stevens’ song?

Compiled by John Haydon
Sources: Billboard, Wikipedia, Songfacts.com