Thursday, January 20, 2011

Cat Stevens: Peace Train



This is from the Majikat Earth Tour in 1976.

Cat Stevens is a stage name. He was born Steven Demetre Georgiou in Marylebone, London, England, in 1948. I remember well the popularity of Cat Stevens in the 1970s, notably his hugely successful albums, Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and Teaser and the Firecat (1971)—both were certified triple platinum in the United States. (A record is certified platinum in the U.S. for sales of one million.)

Cat Stevens: Album cover from Teaser and the Firecat (1971), which contains the song Peace Train.

At the peak of his fame, the singer-songwriter converted to Islam in  December 1977, age 29, after a near-death drowning experience off the coast of  Malibu, California, the year before. He changed his name to Yusuf Islam in 1978 and retired from pop music, at the height of his fame. He married had children and devoted his time to humanitarian efforts and poverty relief.

He returned to making and performing music in 2006, with his first album of new pop songs in 28 years, entitled An Other Cup. He now performs under the stage name, Yusuf, the Arabic name for Joseph. "I feel right about making music and singing about life in this fragile world again," the then 58-year-old singer-songwriter said. "It is important for me to be able to help bridge the cultural gaps others are sometimes frightened to cross."

Here is a modern rendition of Peace Train  at the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, on 11 December 2006,  from a more mature man in his late fifties. He introduces the song before a large crowd, which includes the 2006 Nobel Peace laureate Muhammad Yunis of Bangladesh, on the efforts to eradicate poverty.

This is a most noble and necessary goal, if there was one to bring humanity together. The effects on poverty are not easily dismissed. (On that note I have written a number of posts on poverty, the most recent, Can We End Poverty?)

It was a beautiful song when it was first written and performed by Cat Steven in 1971, and it retains its beauty when performed by Yusuf in 2006. As Yusuf said recently:  "There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again."

Peace Train
by Cat Stevens

Now I've been happy lately
Thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be
Something good has begun
I've been smiling lately
Dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be
Something good's bound to come

For out on the edge of darkness
There runs the peace train
Peace train take this country
Come take me home again

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train
Peace train's a holy roller
Everyone jump upon the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
This is the peace train

Get your bags together
Come bring your good friends too
Because it's getting nearer
Soon it will be with you
Come and join the living
It's not so far from you
And it's getting nearer
Soon it will all be true

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train

I've been crying lately
Thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating?
Why can't we live in bliss?

For out on the edge of darkness
There rides the peace train
Peace train take this country
Come take me home again

Peace train sounding louder
Ride on the peace train
Hoo-ah-eeh-ah-hoo-ah
Come on the peace train

Come on, come on, come on the peace train...

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