I got a little excited the other day because I finally listened to the song that Dolly Parton did with Yusuf Islam, as he's now known (it's a cover of "Where Do the Children Play"). My excitement was soon replaced by a feeling of disappointment. Islam doesn't even sing on it--he only plays acoustic guitar, which hardly even counts. I was hoping for some kind of east-Tennessee-meets-former-West-End-pop-singer-turned-Muslim musical summit. It was not to be. "Where Do the Children Play" is one of my favorite Cat tunes, and I'm posting the original instead of Dolly's version because although I'm a big fan I still have to say hers is pretty cringe-worthy. I'm also including an early oddity called "Come On Baby (Shift That Log)". Besides the great title, it's got this nicely incongruous stylistic identity crisis--one minute acoustic guitars and strings, the next a Stax-style soul groove.
Even though the fact that the artist Cat Stevens ended up transforming himself into the Muslim Yusuf Islam is sort of sad and problematic to me, I still grudgingly respect him for his earnestness and honesty. It's true, you can't really listen to some of the songs anymore, but even "Peace Train" sounds pretty good in an era of seemingly endless war.