Yusuf/Cat Stevens has released “Butterfly”, an unheard song that was cut from 1978’s Back To Earth, which was the singer’s final album before leaving the stage to pursue a life of religious fulfillment.
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“Butterfly”, along with another song entitled “Toy Heart”, were originally axed from the album because Stevens felt they were “too poppy.” Now, the two songs are being released as part of a Back To Earth box set that features a remastered version of the album, unheard demos, and a charity concert he played at London’s Wembley Arena in 1979, which proved to be his final live performance for over 20 years.
“Butterfly” carries much of that familiar feel-good Cat Stevens sentiment, packaged in an uptempo, pep-in-your-step Paul Simon kind of tune. There’s something that just sounds so right about hearing Stevens’ young, nubile voice sing lines like, “I don’t want to tell you how to be, or how to cut your hair/’cause I believe that love should be free, though it sounds hard don’t think I don’t care.” The accompanying construction paper, cubism lyric video also carries the kind of edgeless approach that brought Stevens to the top of the adult-contemporary charts 40 years ago.
Listen to “Butterfly” below.
Yusuf/Cat Stevens – “Butterfly” [Official Lyric Video]
[Video: Yusuf/Cat Stevens]
Back To Earth was recorded after the singer-songwriter experienced a religious conversion when he was swept away by the current in Malibu, California where he nearly drowned. As he was fighting against the waves, he prayed to god and promised that if he was saved that he would dedicate his life to faith shortly before he was carried back to shore. Soon thereafter, his brother, David, gave him a copy of the Koran.
“This was before Islam was a headline,” Yusuf said. “The Iranian Revolution wasn’t even on the horizon. I felt like I was discovering something that was an amazing and immense secret.”
He decided after his near-death experience and subsequent conversion, that his music career went against his faith and ultimately decided to hang up his incredibly lucrative career. First, however, he recorded Back To Earth in 1978 in order to fulfill his record contract.
While there was no supporting tour for Back To Earth, he performed at a The Year Of The Child benefit concert at London’s Wembley Aren on November 22nd, 1979, which is included in full on the box set. The concert proved to be a farewell performance, as Yusuf, as he became known, did not perform again until shortly after the September 11th terrorist attacks.
“There was so much antagonism in the world,” he said in 2015. “Many Muslims have come up to me, shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you! Thank you.’ I’m representing the way they want to be seen.”
Watch a clip from Yusuf/Cat Stevens’ show at Wembley Arena below.
Yusuf/Cat Stevens – “Father & Son” – November 22nd, 1979
Yusuf/Stevens will play a charity concert March 3rd at London’s 02 Arena alongside Eric Clapton, Tom Jones, Bonnie Tyler, and many more. After that, he will tour Europe throughout the summer. For tickets and a full list of dates, head to his website.
[H/T Rolling Stone]