When I discovered late that the great Jusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens had been inducted into the hall of fame, I was quite jubilant!
While this yarn is quite worn, Ill spin it yet again! When I was 30 I bought a guitar and decided that I wanted to be a performing artist, of the San Francisco Street Poet, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Tag Mahal, Muddy Waters, John lee Hooker John Prine variety!
The fact that I was working two jobs, Machinist Helper by day, waiter by night, did not deter me!
I bought a Gurian Acoustic guitar with an extra wide almost classical neck and steel strings, and began to develop my craft as a wordsmith!
One year later a friend asked me to perform for Cat Stevens in hope that Steve as Cat Stevens was called by his band, would listen to me!
When Cat Stevens now Jususf Islam entered the room with his posse, he sat on a couch uncomfortably close to me! He was then accompanied by a fairly large gentleman who I decided must be his body guard! I found out later the gentleman was Jean Rousseau his piano player!
The song which I chose to play simply fell apart in my mind from sheer nervousness of having a guy listen to me who had performed to more than 20,000 people in the Portland Oregon Coliseum the night before!
His smile was warm, and his hair was long. The first question I asked was, “How did you get into the music business? Jusuf Islam, aka Cat Stevens literally burried his face in his hands in his lap and shook his head from side to side groaning as if I had brought up an undesirable and quite painful event!
He then said as he shook his wonderful mane from side to side while raising his face slowly to meet my now less nervous gaze! ” They (Warner Brothers Records) hated my voice! They wanted me to be a songwriter. I had to go back to the UK and find the money to produce my first album!
This friendly conversation made me feel more relaxed and I dived into one of my favorite songs written about a former Priest and friend of mind by the name of Reese who had opened up a Group Home for runaway teens in Portland Oregon called Harris’ Mothers’!
Jusuf leaned back and gave me a smile and a nod, which meant to me, lets see what you got?
This time I was much more confident and felt accepted by Jusuf’s friendly manner.
I boldly belted out,
“My friend Reese was a priest until he kicked the habit!
He found God out in the street not only in the Abbey!
Some folks thought him crazy,
Others thought him quite odd.
He said that a man don’t need religion just as long as he’s got God!” All rights reserved by William D. Burton
When I finished the song, it felt like the room had risen in temperature by 20 degrees!
The fist thing the Jusuf Islam said was,”Wow! You have something to say!” While I have told that story 1000 times plus, I never do so without feeling total gratitude for my friend, the maitre D at the London Bar and Grill who literally risked his job in order to help me get a chance to play for Jusuf Islam aka Cat Stevens!
And so in closing, I would be remiss if I did not send a Shout Out to Jusuf Islam with a request that I be your opening act when you tour North America!
You gotta have a dream, before you can have a dream come true!
William D. Burton is considered a World Class Bio Rhythm & Blues San Francisco Street Poet, a Performance Enhancement- Sustainable Lifeskills Instructor and a Guide helping people find the secret path to the Upper & Middle Class Via the Fountain Of Youth! http://abcn.ws/1nEuyW4