Oh Very Young

Another great by Cat Stevens. A lot of his videos on youtube have pictures of him from back when he was still Cat Stevens and I can’t help but think of him as still being that way. He looks completely different now, at least to me. I’m reminded of something Dr. Umar Farooq Abdallah said once during a weekend intensive. It was said very casually, but it struck me because I was born Muslim and hadn’t really thought much about the physical changes that take place after conversion. He said that any one who has converted to Islam will tell you that your face changes completely after you convert. It transforms and your look completely changes. That’s really quite extraordinary and not something I’d ever thought to wonder about before.

So I still think of him as Cat Stevens when I listen to his songs from back then. But somehow when I listen to his Roadsinger album I can’t think of him as anyone but Yusuf Islam. It’s funny how identities work.

If you calculate his age, he was 26 when Oh Very Young came out, so he was probably 25 or so when he wrote it. It’s another one of his spectacularly beautiful songs, both musically and lyrically. It’s funny how 25 sounds so young, but it’s easy to become cynical even at that age. Maybe cynical isn’t even the right word. Realistic? Wiser?

And though your dreams may toss and turn you now
They will vanish away like your dad’s best jeans
Denim blue, faded up to the sky
And though you want them to last forever,
You know they never will

Oh very young what will you leave us this time
There’ll never be a better chance to change your mind 

I can see, at 25, why the voting category for “youth” is 18-24. It’s not an arbitrarily picked number, because if it was they would have picked 22 as the age that you “mature” since that’s when people normally graduate from college and enter the so-called real world.

No, there never will be a better time to change my mind, but it’s not just my mind that needs to be changed, it’s so many other things that I have no control over. It’s one thing to be confused about life and where you’re headed, but, dang, it’s as if every other thing I could be lost, confused, and scared about has to be sorted out at right this moment. IT’S NOT LIKE I DIDN’T HAVE ENOUGH GOING ON.

Enjoy the timelessness that only Cat Stevens could convey.


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