Yusuf / Cat Stevens will release a new album in the fall, his fourth since returning to the folk-pop style of his classic Sixties and Seventies work. The Laughing Apple bridges the artist’s present and past, combining newly written songs with covers of tracks from his early repertoire. Hear “See What Love Did to Me” – one of the brand-new selections – here.
The song offers a charming update on the breezy, singalong-friendly sound that Yusuf / Cat Stevens helped to pioneer on classic albums such as Tea for the Tillerman. Over a simple acoustic-guitar-driven arrangement, he praises love’s transformative powers, comparing it to forces of nature. “Just like the wind, my heart’s rushing fast/A piece of dust too high to catch,” he sings. The song’s lyric video features animations of Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ own drawings, made especially for the album. The artist himself turns up for a cameo near the end of the clip, as the song takes a religious turn: “And now I see what God did for me.”
“‘See What Love Did to Me’ is a a song which extolls the virtue of Love and its destructive properties,” Yusuf / Cat Stevens tells Rolling Stone in a statement. “Based on a poem written by Yunus Emre, a Thirteenth Century Turkish poet. I fell upon the guitar riff back in 2006, while recording An Other Cup. It took eight years to find the right words and sentiments to marry with the joyous tune. It has musical ripples of Africa as well as India flowing through.”
“Like a blindfolded bee, guided only by his heart to the bosom of the flower, Love is the greatest Divine instinct that gives us wings to fly to the supreme heights of our humanity,” he explains, alluding to the song’s repeated line “Like a blindfolded bumblebee.” “It takes us to a garden where our minds can surrender reason in exchange for the nectar of Love. Worship is in essence a state total devotion to whoever we adore the most and expressing our yearning for closeness and proximity to our Beloved and where we forever want to be.”
The Laughing Apple celebrates the 50th anniversary of the artist’s 1967 debut, Matthew and Son, and will come out on Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ Cat-O-Log Records imprint, via Decca, the label he worked with back then. It also reunites him with producer Paul Samwell-Smith, who helmed Tea for the Tillerman, Teaser and the Firecat and other releases from his early-Seventies heyday.
Among the old songs that Yusuf / Cat Stevens revived and revamped for The Laughing Apple are “Mighty Peace” and “Mary and the Little Lamb,” neither of which ever made it onto an album. Four other songs, including the title track, appeared in their original forms on his 1967 LP New Masters. And “You Can Do (Whatever)” was originally intended for the Harold and Maude soundtrack but was left unfinished at the time. “Many of my earlier recordings were overcooked with big band arrangements,” he explains in a press release of his decision to revisit this material. “They crowded the song out a lot of times.”
The Laughing Apple will be released on September 15th. Last year, Yusuf / Cat Stevens celebrated the 50th anniversary of his first hit single “I Love My Dog” on the retrospective tour A Cat’s Attic.
The Laughing Apple Track List
1. “Blackness of the Night”
2. “See What Love Did to Me”
3. “The Laughing Apple”
4. “Olive Hill”
6. “Mighty Peace”
7. “Mary and the Little Lamb”
8. “You Can Do (Whatever)”
9. “Northern Wind (Death of Billy the Kid)”
10. “Don’t Blame Them”
11. “I’m So Sleepy”