To Be What You Must

Album: Roadsinger (2009)
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Songfacts®:

  • This song features the American singer-songwriter Michelle Branch, Gunnar Nelson of the band Nelson and children from a London school that Yusuf supports.
  • Yusuf told Reuters about this song that concerns the wisdom of seeking a fulfilled life: "That was inspired by a philosophical saying of Eckhart Tolle. He says, 'To be what you must, you must give up what you are.' I thought that said so much about my life."
  • At the beginning of this song, Yusuf quotes the piano opening of "Sitting" from his 1972 album Catch Bull at Four.
  • In 1968 the then Cat Stevens found himself in a hospital bed with TB. Mojo magazine June 2009 asked Yusuf if he could talk to himself lying in that hospital bed, what would he say? He replied that he would sing this song. Yusuf added: "The words are: 'On this boat called near and far/ To be what you must/ You've got to give up what you are.' That's perfect. It says it all."

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