Remember when sensitive singer-songwriters were cool? Or, conversely, remember when sensitive singer-songwriters were uncool? I don’t think the raging debate over whether being sensitive and feelsy is cool or uncool will ever be resolved, but I can tell you one thing: Cat Stevens will never not be cool. I like to act all dismissive towards earnest types, true. But I also think there’s a fine distinction to be made between earnesty and sincerity. Overly earnest people may not actually be sincere, but they very much want you to think they are. It’s manipulative. You know the kind of try-too-hard earnestly I’m talking about; the kind where the singer sounds like he’s trying to convince some half-drunk woman at a bar what a decent person he is. That’s the opposite of real sincerity. Or maybe I’m just having an exercise in empty semantics, an attempt to make some intellectual justification for why I like Cat Stevens but not James Taylor. I mean, Cat Stevens is certainly very, very sensitive and deeply feelsy, but I would never accuse him of being overly earnest. He’s just over here sitting in the sunlight, probably reading some poetry or whatever, minding his own business, thinking about life.