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Album: Teaser And The FirecatReleased: 1971Charted:
When he appeared on The Chris Isaak Hour in 2009, Stevens said of this song: "Musically, I was revisiting a very Greek-sounding riff - the kind of thing you'd hear on a Greek island. The words were attached to that time, my peace anthem. It ended every show that I did and was quite a show stopper. It was a very important song for me because it stated one of the big goals of my life which was heading straight for that peace."
This was Stevens' first US Top-10 hit. It was not released as a single outside of America because Stevens' European label, Island, wanted to encourage people to buy the albums rather than the 45s.
This became a hippie anthem, and was often used by protesters to spread a message of peace.
In 1987, 10,000 Maniacs covered this, but the song was dropped from future copies of their In My Tribe album in 1989 after Stevens, who had changed his name to Yusuf Islam, condoned the death wish on Salmon Rushdie for defaming the Prophet in his book The Satanic Verses.
In 2003, Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, re-recorded this for a compilation album called Hope, which was a benefit for children in Iraq. It was his first English language recording since 1978. The US and Britain had invaded Iraq, which was perceived by many to be an attack on Muslims. Stevens explained: "As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution to the dangerous path some world leaders today seem to be taking."
In 2010, John Stewart and Stephen Colbert staged a Train Wreck, having Stevens perform this song at their Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington, DC, only to have Ozzy Osbourne interrupt with a performance of "Crazy Train
The bit didn't go over well with Salman Rushdie, an author who had a fatwa issued against him that Stevens supported. When Rushdie complained to Stewart, the Daily Show
host said that he shouldn't have done it. "Death for free speech is a deal-breaker," said Stewart.