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The dramatic view of Manhattan from the 35th floor of the Sony Building at 550 Madison was immediately forgotten when Yusuf walked into the room. He is magnetic. He smiled when I showed him my original copy of Teaser and the Firecat – the 1971 Cat Stevens album that belonged to my parents which, as it was one of the albums that made me fall in love with music, I had commandeered from their collection decades before.
It was good to have an ice breaker as Yusuf has reason to be distrustful of the press: his beliefs have been misrepresented. In our conversation, he set the record straight on his new album, Tell 'Em I'm Gone, but that's only part of what he discussed. Yusuf spoke thoughtfully. He described how, like Joni Mitchell, he was an artist before he was a musician. He painted a picture of London in the sixties and how the music he heard then - particularly the blues and blues-based rock - is the foundation of his new songs.
He spoke about two near death experiences that caused him to reconsider first, the kind of music he wanted to make and second, his faith. Get to know this generous man of peace and music in this FUV Live session.
When the new album from The Decemberists, What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World comes out in January – it will have been just over four years since their last release so there was a lot to talk about with Colin Meloy. The singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist has hardly been idle. He wrote no fewer than three Wildwood fantasy novels that were received with, uh, wild enthusiasm and illustrated by his wife Carson Ellis. Meloy spoke about how writing the series affected the songs on the record and generously gave context to where The Decemberists are now by commenting on all their releases to date. Hear Colin play songs from the forthcoming album and enjoy this great opportunity to get to know the man and the band much more intimately.
Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey have been friends for more than 50 years. They've also been good friends of the Sunday Breakfast (if not for so many years), so it was a pleasure to welcome them back to talk about their music and life with Peter, Paul and Mary (chronicled in a new book, CD, and PBS special) and to play us a few songs both old and new in Studio A.
Lori McKenna is a Massachusetts singer-songwriter-mother, who's successfully balanced a career and family life. Although she's had artists like Faith Hill and Tim McGraw turn her songs into country hits, she's resisted the siren call of Nashville to stay in the town where she grew up. In this Sunday Breakfast session, she's accompanied by her longtime pal and sideman, Mark Erelli, a pretty fine singer-songwriter in his own right, on guitar and mandolin.