Soft Rock Music
Songs with messages of peace were common in the Vietnam War era; for example, John Lennon’s 1969 hit, “Give Peace a Chance.” The song “Peace Train” was recorded in 1971 for the album Teaser and the Firecat. It reached #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1971, becoming Cat Stevens’ first US Top 10 hit. The song also spent three weeks at #1 on the adult contemporary chart.
The song made an impact on the peace movement and was often used as an anthem at anti-war rallies and protests which were prevalent at the time. Not everyone found the song lyrics convincing. Robert Christgau, reviewer for Newsday Magazine, said in his review of Cat Stevens’ 1972 Lincoln Center concert, “When Stevens informs the world that we’re all on a peace train, I get annoyed. We’re not, and if Stevens ever stops shaking his head long enough to see clearly for a second, he might realize it.”
Cat Stevens was born Steven Demetre Georgiou on July 21, 1948 in London, England. He started performing in 1964 and began having some success in 1967, writing the classic and enduring soul ballad “The First Cut Is The Deepest,” which he sold for $40. He became a superstar by 1970 and is known for his deeply emotional songs and powerful vocal delivery, as well as flawlessly produced records. Stevens also has unique, colorful album titles, including: Matthew & Son, Mona Bone Jakon, Tea for the Tillerman, Teaser and the Firecat, and Catch Bull at Four.
Cat Stevens is the father of five children and has had a life of ups and downs, including a bout with tuberculosis in the late 1960s and a near downing in the 1980s. In the mid 1980s, he converted to Islam, changed his name to Yusuf Islam, and reduced his public appearances. Although he remains a controversial figure, there is no disputing his remarkable talent, beautiful voice, and deeply touching songs.