The music of Cat Stevens is something I associate with my early childhood. Moonshadow and Where do the Children Play? both conjure up images of Lincolnshire, where we lived before I was five. However, of late, Yusuf Islam has started appearing everywhere I go. If I’m in the car and I scroll through the radio stations, Wild World is the best thing on the airways. In line at the supermarket and Morning has Broken will come over the screechy tannoy system. Even waiting on hold, (Remember The Days of the) Old Schoolyard jumps out at me from the handset almost as if they’d been waiting for me to call before they added it to the hold playlist (and I’d like to point out that after listening to that song in a loop while waiting to speak to someone about why you’ve been charged for services you don’t even have, you start to listen to the lyrics and while Cat obviously enjoyed his scholastic education (he states, more than once that “we used to laugh a lot”) after having the song drummed into me like a member of a 70’s folk revival cult, the only image from my time at school that comes to mind was being too busy hanging from the coat hooks by my underwear to find much time for laughing).
Most call centres in the UK are either located in Glasgow or have a positive discrimination policy when it comes to employing Scots who grew up around the River Clyde because a piece of research found Glaswegian to be the most pleasant and soothing of the British dialects. In the same way, the only logical reason I can think of for the statistically highly unlikely frequency of my encounters with Mr Islam is that a social psychologist has published a paper somewhere identifying the music of Cat Stevens as the least offensive, obtrusive or polarising music on the planet.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this were true as I can’t really see many people hating him, in the same way I very much doubt that there will be a whole load of people who’d name The Artist Formerly Known as Cat as their favourite musician. This is what makes it the perfect music to broadcast on easy listening radio; the type of station that will have distribution agreements that’ll get them piped into shops and played as hold music.
It’s either that or he’s actively haunting me.