Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Misunderstanding

I've always found Yusuf Islam's performance of Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, on his fine 'comeback' album Another Cup, a bit of an anomaly. For starters, it's the only track that features an all out orchestral accompaniment, rather than the usual guitar, keyboards, bass, drums - sort of as expected - on the other material. And the strings themselves sound oddly synthetic, making me wonder if, in fact, it's all synthesised. Much as I like the song and Yusuf's voice on it I can't say I like the sound. The live version featured on the Yusuf's Cafe DVD, with a proper band, is a lot better in that regard.

And then there's the fact that this is not one of the singer-songwriter's own songs. Now I know he's done covers before, in his Cat Stevens incarnation, but these were few and far between, and it seems odd to give space to this admitted classic when he obviously had a lot of new material up his sleeve. (At least, I assume so. The Roadsinger CD followed Another Cup pretty closely.)

Obviously the song meant something pretty important to him for him to record it and perform it - though there's a serenity, almost a blandness in his vocals that suggests a measure of restraint involved. His is not an anguished version. But I suspect there's deep anguish behind it, given the public beatings he has had to endure on occasion related to the faith he found in his second life. This is clearly a man who finds being misunderstood extremely painful and my heart, for one, goes out to him in that regard. And to others who feel the same way.

But my advice is to find a way not to care.

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