Christmas Carols

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…Courtesy of who my good friend and I always refer to as, looking up at each other  in unison when he comes up in the shuffle: “The Terrorist.” The great and awesome Cat Stevens, a singer songwriter who’s singing and songwriting still send chills up my spine decades later. Timeless.

Peace, like anarchy, begins at home. Get your own shit in order; number one. Mind your own business; number too. Live in peace; number three. 1, 2, 3. It’s fucking easy.

One more.

God and virgin birth myths aren’t enough. Obviously. The eternal tragedy of monotheistic religious myth is that they accomplish the exact opposite of their purported purpose. Even more tragically, they are so fucking good at accomplishing the exact opposite. It’s baked into the cake of monotheistic myth.

But anyway…Merry Christmas Myth.

…And no, I don’t care which myth you pick—I argue that people ought to put them in context, like the Santa myth: hella fun. Whether or not Cat Stevens becoming Yousuf Islam was a a religious epiphany, conversion, or a transformation…seems to me that whatever the case, his heart is in the right place.

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  1. I’m with you, and I really think it’s all about control, but I’m not buyin’ it!

  2. Richard,

    I’m with you in the musical sense, but I can’t forget that this is the same guy who agreed with the death fatwa against Salman Rushdie. Good singer, but fuck him.


    • It appears there’s more to it than that. His own statement on the matter:

      Make no mistake, I think all religion is nuttier than a fruitcake. But, from my perspective, at least he has the honesty and integrity to uphold what his scriptures say, which is essentially the same things the Bible says, only Christians tend to ignore all the bad parts…

      • I’ll take video evidence over a self-serving website any time:



      • He addressed that TV show as well in the same FAQ.

      • So his explanation now is that he was making jokes about someone who was on the run for his life? Oh? That’s better. :)

        Maybe, if he offers a sincere apology to Rushdie, he can make amends for what he said. But we both know he won’t. And on the video, he spoke clearly with a straight face, and with plenty of space for laughter to be heard, so I don’t buy his excuse for a second.

        So, like I said, fuck him.


      • I can’t give 2 shits about the guy (positive or negative), but his “self-serving” website says exactly what the video says. He’s as much as saying that if Rushdie is smart enough to never go to an islamic state, then he should never be summarily executed.

  3. I’ve got “Peace Train” on my MP3, love the part where he sings (wait for it, wait for it) “I’ve been crying lately, thinking of the world as it is” and then the discordant notes on the guitar.

    I’m up to 280 songs on an MP3 device I bought for $39.95, I figure the average cost of buying a song is .60.

    When I was in high school a friend’s dad had the funds to buy a Walkman and I remember listening to it, we were 16 or 17, there was no way we could have the funds to buy one ourselves, it cost $249 which is like $1600 in today’s money, but it was awesome.

  4. “Peace, like anarchy, begins at home.”

    This puts me in mind of a famous passage from the Great Learning, a chapter of the Book of Rites which was an important text of Chinese philosophy and political theory and which became one of the key “Four Books” in Confucian learning. The passage, in pertinent part, is as follows:

    “Cultivate the self and then the home will be well regulated. Regulate the home and then the state will be brought to good order. Bring good order to the state, and then the world will be at peace. From the Son of Heaven down to the ordinary people, everyone without exception should take cultivation of the self as the root. It is not possible for the root to be in disorder but the branches to be well ordered.”

    The Great Learning is associated with state-sanctioned Confucianism, and therefore with statism (definitely not anarchy!), but there is a separate tradition and philosophy associated with the ideas in the Great Learning that focused on self-cultivation and the ordering of one’s own life in a moral way regardless of what the rest of the world does. Confucianism as anarchy.

    (There is a sense in which this latter strain of “Confucian” thought is quite Taoistic: cultivate the self and don’t worry about the world.)

  5. I love Cat Stevens’ music. I don’t give a shit what his religious beliefs are, the color of his skin, or whether he puts ketchup on his eggs. I like his music. Period. I like Queen too but I am not gay. I don’t care if Freddie was gay. His music rocked. Fat-Bottomed Girls is probably the most underrated rock song out there. Sometimes people get hung up on the entire package.

  6. Hey Richard (and Bea), happy holidays! I appreciate your stamina in writing on so many interesting and diverse subjects, I am always quietly reading along and taking it all in. Hope this year brings new levels of well being and courage to seek and explore those outer edges of our known experience and knowledge. Let our fear of the unknown not hold us back but spur us forward to new adventures. May all our hearts be strong and our minds open and bright. Best wishes along the journey.

  7. If I based my selection of an artisan (musician, writer, actor) on politics, religion, or even simple opinions, I would have so few to enjoy. In general I think it best to ignore. In short, STFU and sing, write, act, paint, etc. The true idiots are the one’s that allow a celebrity’s view to have a amplified impact on their own.

    • Word, Griff. I cannot imagine not loving that live rendition of Peace Train. It’s timeless to me.

      • I think the 10,000 Maniacs version is great as well which was in the original “In My Tribe” album. It was latter dropped from the album after the Cat Stevens controversy. Natalie Merchant has a great voice. I especially like her cover of Space Oddity and her own song Beloved Wife from the Live In Concert album.

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