Miles From Nowhere

One thing I noticed growing up; that every single one of my friends’ parents, without exception, owned a copy of Tea for the Tillerman. This was back when most people still had stacks of vinyl in their living rooms. And every stack of vinyl, whatever else it contained, also contained Cat Stevens. In part, this is telling of the milieu I grew up in more than anything else. But it’s also a testament to the popularity Cat Stevens once enjoyed, and the onetime ubiquity of that album. Now all of those people, even the most deeply nostalgic, have gone digital, and I doubt they’ve all bothered to make sure Tea for the Tillerman was in their collection. I doubt many of them often stop and think “Gee whillickers, I really miss Cat Stevens! What’s he been up to?” (FYI, he goes by Yusuf Islam now.) At one time, though, that was the album everyone went out and bought. And although Yusuf became the one rock star out of thousands who decided that spirituality was more important than raking in money hand over fist, his music still holds up. Unlike a lot of things that become wildly popular and disappear without a trace, Tea for the Tillerman is still an important album to own. It still sounds fresh, and relevant, and as moving as ever. It isn’t one of those very dated time capsule records that make you cringe and go “Oh, god, the early seventies!” Cat Stevens was one of the outstanding songwriters of his time, and that doesn’t age. 1970 was a strong year for music. November of 1970 alone was a strong month for music. That was the month The Man Who Sold the World, American Beauty, All Things Must Pass and Layla… all came out. Of course, it also gave us Despite it All by Brinsley Schwarz and Air Conditioning by Curved Air. The point is, out of all the amazing, tolerably ok, and downright terrible music that came out, there really aren’t that many records that everyone still owns the original LP of several decades later. Not only did so many people go out and buy it, they also loved it enough to hold on to it long after the technology it was played on became obsolete.


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