Yusuf/Cat Stevens has unveiled a cover of The Beatles' Here Comes The Sun. The recording has been released to celebrate Yusuf's recent signing to Dark Horse Records – the label set up by the song's writer, George Harrison, in 1974 – and to mark the occasion of what would have been Harrison's 80th birthday this Friday.
"George Harrison was beginning to explore Eastern mysticism around the time I was hospitalised with TB, in 1968," explains Yusuf. "Lying in bed, I had a lot of time on my hands and ended up reading a Buddhist book called The Secret Path. That was the beginning of my own search for the light.
"While most of my generation were just into the music, I was a bit like George, where music became the key to something much higher. Following the rages of the 60s, his consciousness was awakened, and George transcended to levels not many people ever get to experience. You can hear it in his lyrics, and see it in the way he lived and dealt with the material world - looking for a way out.
"George was one of the first to put on a charity concert for the poor, at the time millions of Bangladeshis were fleeing from conflict and becoming refugees. It was a brave thing to do, and against all establishment rules.
"I’m happy to sing one of his songs, especially as it represents the returning of light and hope to a seriously dark and broken world."
The cover art for Here Comes The Sun features an illustration by Yusuf's eight-year-old granddaughter.
Dark Horse Records is run today by David Zonshine and Harrison's son Dhani, who says, "I’m thrilled to welcome Yusuf/Cat Stevens to the Dark Horse Records family. Not only is Yusuf a great musical legend but his songs could not fit the Dark Horse mythos any better.
"From his back catalogue, through to the new music we can’t wait for you to hear. Yusuf is without question one of the most influential singer-songwriters of all time. It is a great honour to be able to give his music a home on our humble yet historic label."
The label, which is also home to Billy Idol, recently announced Record Store Day 2023 album reissues from Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros (a 20th anniversary edition of third album Streetcore) and Chicago soul band Stairsteps (2nd Resurrection, originally released by Dark Horse in 1976).