Can’t Keep It In

Whether or not it was true that, as he once sang, “I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow,” Cat Stevens was definitely being followed by the Department of Homeland Security, which forbade him to enter the United States earlier this week due to suspected terrorist connections.

During his prime, Stevens was not so much the singer/songwriter of 70s cliche, introspective bordering on narcissistic, and talking about love from every conceivable angle. Instead, he seemed to be creating intricate and occasionally obtuse works of art on a very tiny scale, like a guy doing engravings on grains of rice or something. And he was essentially a singles artist, although he did reach Number One with his 1972 album Catch Bull at Four, an album without a major 45rpm hit. The best of his singles were probably “Wild World,” “Morning Has Broken,” and “Oh Very Young,” none of which you are likely to hear on the radio again anytime soon. In the late 80s, when the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or death sentence, against author Salman Rushdie for his novel The Satanic Verses, Stevens, known since the 70s as Yusef Islam, praised the Ayatollah–and brought down the wrath of radio stations across the country, which swiftly pulled his records from the air. His reputation was later rehabilitated, but I’m guessing his records are being yanked again today. Yeah, that’ll teach him.

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