Yusuf/Cat Stevens: Tiny Desk Concert Nearly 50 years after his first album, the singer-songwriter performs two new songs and two classics: "The First Cut Is the Deepest" and "Father and Son."

Tiny Desk

Yusuf/Cat Stevens

In the summer of 1971, I was a camp counselor at a sleep-away camp for a bunch of 5- to 7-year-olds. For those eight weeks, I walked home with about $50. I bought a guitar and began to learn the songs I'd come to love from the recently released Tea for the Tillerman by Cat Stevens.

"Father and Son" touched me most — it's a song about growing old, and about beliefs and conviction. More than 40 years later, that songwriter is performing at my desk with his son standing right behind me. You can never imagine the turns life will take.

Nor could he. In 1976, Cat Stevens almost drowned off the coast of Malibu. In his panic, he says, he shouted, "Oh, God! If you save me, I will work for you" — at which point he recalls a wave that came and carried him ashore. He converted to Islam, changed his name and left the pop world after one last album in 1978.

He finally returned in 2006, and now we have a new record, Tell 'Em I'm Gone. From that album of great blues covers and originals, produced with Rick Rubin, Yusuf plays some powerful new music, as well as the 1967 classic "The First Cut Is the Deepest" — and then brought me to tears by dedicating a version of "Father and Son" to me. As I walked around the office after this Tiny Desk Concert, I heard one story after another of an artist who has touched so many. It's a joy to have him back.

Set List

  • "I Was Raised In Babylon"
  • "The First Cut Is the Deepest"
  • "Doors"
  • "Father and Son"

Credits

Producers: Bob Boilen, Maggie Starbard; Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait; Videographers: Colin Marshall, Maggie Starbard; Assistant Producer: Susan Hale Thomas; photo by Susan Hale Thomas/NPR

[+] read more[-] less

More From Tiny Desk

Indigo Sparke performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Nov. 21, 2019. (Catie Dull/NPR) Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Catie Dull/NPR

Indigo Sparke

The Australian singer transforms the NPR Music offices with a voice that, at moments, comes as a whisper.

Jenny Lewis plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR

Jenny Lewis

A consummate storyteller, going as far back to her days with her band Rilo Kiley, the words of Jenny Lewis comfort and inspire.

Chris Dave & The Drumhedz perform during a Tiny Desk concert, on Dec. 9, 2019. (Catie Dull/NPR) Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Catie Dull/NPR

Chris Dave And The Drumhedz

Chris Dave, your favorite musician's favorite drummer, takes listeners on a journey through a virtual record store, picking up different genres along the way and putting them in your bag.

Elisapie performs during tiny desk on November, 26, 2019. (Photo by Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Elisapie

The Canadian singer-songwriter gives a deep, soulful performance against a sometimes moody backdrop of bass saxophone and bowed guitars.

Snoh Aalegra plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR

Snoh Aalegra

The Iranian-Swedish singer draws her musical cues from Brandy and Sade while racking up a list of collaborators such as Vince Staples, James Fauntleroy and, most recently, Pharrell Williams.

Laura Stevenson performs at a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 12, 2019. (Emily Bogle/NPR) Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Emily Bogle/NPR

Laura Stevenson

Backed by a small string section, Stevenson performed three songs that sounded so gorgeous, an actual marriage proposal broke out shortly after her set ended.

Mount Eerie plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR). Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Laura Beltran Villamizar/NPR

Mount Eerie With Julie Doiron

Phil Elverum shares his open wounds — of death, love and the loss of love — in close harmonies, accompanied only by electric and nylon-string guitars.

Baby Rose plays a Tiny Desk Concert (Kisha Ravi/NPR). Kisha Ravi/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Kisha Ravi/NPR

Baby Rose

At 25, she mixes the bluesy melisma of Nina Simone and the deep register of Sarah Vaughan — two of her influences — with songwriting as devastating as her delivery.

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra performs during tiny desk on December, 4, 2019. (Photo by Mhari Shaw/NPR) Mhari Shaw/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Mhari Shaw/NPR

Jonathan Scales Fourchestra

Here's a first: Steelpans at the Tiny Desk. It's true. Nearly a thousand performances into the series and the instrument has never been featured, until now.

Another Sky performs during a Tiny Desk concert, on Dec. 5, 2019. (Catie Dull/NPR) Catie Dull/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Catie Dull/NPR

Another Sky

The strength of this London band is matching message with music. There's intensity and clear intention in their use of rock as an art.

Back To Top