Yusuf Islam’s new album “An Other Cup,” is getting middlin’ marks on Amazon–some fans are complaining that his voice sounds “weak.” But the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens has a sparkling website with audio clips of him on anger, prayer, and peace, as well as a lengthy and fascinating autobiography in which he chronicles his journey from sensitive folk star to recovering substance abuser to observant Muslim endeavoring to make a difference.
I was now supposed to be one of the glamorous elite, cheerfully enjoying the “high life.” The public expected me to live up to this image, so resorting to intoxicants was the only way for me to overcome my insecurity and shyness. I seriously lost control: staying up late, drinking, partying, smoking endless cigarettes. Within a year I found myself in hospital lying on my back sick with tuberculosis. The pop business was whizzing past me and I was left there to think: “What happened?”
Soon I became aware of my own mortality and the inevitability of death. Lying there, in a Sussex hospital deep in the country, surrounded by doctors, a lot of important questions came into my mind. That was a very important stage of my life. At that time there was a great interest in things Eastern, things transcendental: so I turned towards Peace and Flower Power. Somebody had given me a copy of a Buddhist book called “The Secret Path.” That was the beginning of my ardent search for answers–clear answers, about the meaning of our existence and where it was all leading.
I started meditating; and so the centre of the universe at that time was levitating somewhere around the proximity of my belly button. I covered all the mirrors in my hospital room with paper and tried to forget the outwardness of this world and focus on my inner self…
Read it all here.