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January 3-10, 2007

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'D**k in a Box'

The artist formerly known as Cat: Because we need all the wisdom we can get.


Still on the Road to Find Out

By Bill Forman

As American were removing shoes and surrendering toothpaste in order to fly the semifriendly skies of these United States, our amateur war president achieved a new national milestone: On the day after Christmas, the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq reached 2,972, actually surpassing the number of deaths caused by the 9/11 attacks.

Meanwhile, the casualty figure for Iraqis is estimated at anywhere from 50,000 to 650,000, according to the not exactly left-wing news source Voice of America. Since George W. now admits that Saddam and Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11--a realization that 46 percent of recently polled Americans still haven't come to--it turns out we've been killing the wrong people all along.

And through it all, airline terminal speakers continue to remind travelers not to bring firearms and explosive devices on board aircraft. Because, after all, nobody would know not to do that if it weren't announced every 15 minutes.

So over the holidays, after doing the toothpaste terrorism two-step with some friendly Homeland Security wage slaves, I celebrated the remaining freedoms our enemies so virulently hate by devoting my flight time to being indoctrinated by the latest propaganda from a veteran of America's no-fly list.

I'm talking, of course, about Peace Train songwriter Cat Stevens, whose new An Other Cup album came out recently under his suspiciously Muslim name Yusuf. The artist formerly known as Cat Stevens was actually born Stephen Demetre Georgiou, a name he abandoned at the beginning of his pop career for much the same reason that the name he's been using for the last 28 years--Yusuf Islam--was shortened for the current release.

While An Other Cup hasn't suffered a complete stateside media blackout, it's gotten an infinitesimal fraction of the publicity earned by, say, Nicole Richie's waistline or Britney Spears' crotch. Which is really a shame, because Stephen/Cat/Yusuf's latest creation suggests that he still has much to offer us musically, culturally and spiritually.

Sure, it may be more God-identified than the heathens among us would prefer, but even a devotional track like The Beloved is likely to have you singing along with its infectious chorus and the soaring guest vocals of Youssou N'Dour. One Day at a Time is easily among the most beautiful songs in the artist's entire catalog, and his compelling cover of the Animals' Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood gives the song completely new resonance.

Much of the new album may not be as immediately powerful as Yusuf's incredible 2005 tsunami benefit single, Indian Ocean, but its depth and beauty continue to grow with each listening. At a time when peace advocates make the no-fly list and terrorists run the White House, we need all the wisdom we can get.

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