When it was announced a few months ago that Yusuf aka Cat Stevens would not be releasing a popular remixed deluxe edition of his famous album "Tea For The Tillerman" on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his famous album "Tea For The Tillerman", many critical voices were raised. As the result shows, the experiment was worthwhile - the 72-year-old manages to give his classic album new relevance.
In the interview we meet a highly reflective and humorous Yusuf, who is enthusiastic about the new recording of his classic. One immediately believes him that it was above all a matter of the heart. As he explains in the interview, this project enabled him to build a bridge between the young Cat Stevens of yesteryear and the Yusuf of today.
eclipsed: Why did you decide to take the unusual approach of completely re-recording your classic "Tea For The Tillerman", rearranging the songs and even changing some of the lyrics?
Yusuf: It's always nice to do something different. It was originally my son's idea to not only improve the album, but to make it more relevant to the person I am today - in other words, to bring all my experiences of the last 50 years into these new interpretations. It seemed to me a very tempting idea, so we organised a two-week session in the south of France. By the way, it used to take me much longer to record a record, which again shows what experience teaches you. But of course, in the digital age everything is much easier.
eclipsed: What has your today's point of view as a 72-year-old been able to give the songs something new?
Yusuf: Well, for one thing, new perspectives are simply added. Sometimes these are little things. For example, I slightly changed the lyrics of "Hard Headed Woman" and I sing "Now I've found my hard headed woman" because that's the way it is, I found this woman! On the other hand I also made some bigger changes, for example on "Wild World", which got a completely new arrangement. I think it sounds now as if it was recorded in Berlin in the 1940s, and I love this black and white atmosphere that comes up in my mind's eye when I listen to the track. I also played around with "Longer Boats" for a longer time. We added a section that explodes so much that you think James Brown is about to jump on stage. All in all it was a very entertaining project.
eclipsed: For "Father And Son" you came up with something very special
Yusuf: Yes, again it was my son's idea to take a recording of me from the 1970s, to have the old Cat Stevens sing the part of the son and my present self sing the part of the father. That's quite a unique way to record a song! The song has many facets, originally it was part of a planned musical about the Russian Revolution, which shows that the story told in the lyrics has a deeper level than the dialogue between a father and his son. It is also about social change. The father represents the establishment, the son the hope for the future. So it is a universal message that is conveyed here.