Peace Train .....A Long Time Coming


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Published: December 14th 2014
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Tower TheatreTower TheatreTower Theatre

Upper Darby, PA
Life’s Bucket List………



All of us have one. For some it is short, for some it can be lengthy, but we all have one. Those things we want to do and see during our short time on this mortal coil. Now, on each person’s list are usually one or two items that really stand out. Some are within reach, some maybe not. Some exist only in a world of dreams as reality prevents them from coming to fruition. But life is an amazing journey full of people, experiences and travels.



And as you can well imagine, we have ours as well. Now we consider ourselves to be two incredibly lucky individuals who have fulfilled many of our travel dreams already. That’s not to say that there are not more out there, but when you sit back and actually take stock of where we’ve been and what we’ve seen, we are very fortunate…..and know it.



Even with all that, there are still those things that are out there that we both want to do. In this particular case, MJ has gone through the past 35 plus years always yearning to be in the
Yusuf On TourYusuf On TourYusuf On Tour

15 cities worldwide, 5 U.S. cities
presence of one particular individual. Those who know us well are keenly aware of our love for music and would certainly understand how MJ feels about one certain artist. He has gone by the name of Yusuf Islam since the late 1970’s, but is recognized instantly by the name he used before then…..Cat Stevens.



Merry Jo was introduced to Cat Stevens in 1970 by the neighbor girl who lived across the street; Karen Swinger. She quickly bonded with his music and somehow he has forever been a part of her soul. His music speaks to her. She always longed to see him in concert and when he stopped touring in 1976, MJ feared her dream would never be realized. One of Merry Jo’s favorite movies is “Harold and Maude,” which features his music. A special note to her good friend Denise Dunn who had to endure listening to hours of Cat Stevens on the 8 track play over and over and over on the endless repeat day after day after night…..week after week…in the house, in the car, in the house, on and on.



Up until a few days ago, we were living in
Cat Stevens TicketsCat Stevens TicketsCat Stevens Tickets

Tower Theatre
separate cities because of our work. We were not happy with the situation, but realized that it was short term. Dave was working just north of Philadelphia, MJ just south of Baltimore, Maryland. MJ has followed Cat Stevens as Facebook sends her updates and such. One day, she learned something that seemed both surreal and quite frankly, almost unbelievable. He was going on tour in the U.S.! He has not performed in the States since 1976. She went on his website and learned he had scheduled a show in Philadelphia……seriously? Sadly, she was unable to get tickets as the small venue sold out quickly. Upon this realization, she found herself in a quandary. How can she let this opportunity pass? A few weeks passed and she decided to go on Craig’s List and scoured the site and tried to pick someone who was selling extra tickets and not someone who would buy groups of tickets to make a lot of cash.



She found someone who was willing to sell us two tickets. He could easily have waited and sold them for more money, but since MJ had emailed him first, he agreed to sell her the tickets.
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Musical Magic on December 4th
We were close at this point. Arrangements were made to put transfer some money, then pay the rest the night of the concert. Naturally, we wondered if we were about to get ripped off, but tried to stifle such thoughts.



Now, since the concert was held on a Thursday, that meant we both had some traveling to do. Somehow that added to the excitement of the evening. We made arrangements to meet young Matthew in front of the venue at a prescribed time.

The show was booked at the Tower Theatre in Upper Darby a Philly suburb. The theatre was built in 1927 as a movie house. It has experienced hard times over the years but after a remodel in 1972 it has hosted a number of amazing performers and music history. The acoustics and ambience are all one could ask for.







It was a cold December day when we got up and went to work. Talking to each other hourly about the upcoming concert and discussing when we needed to leave work to rendezvous on time. In this part of the world the highways are completely unpredictable and
T shirts a plentyT shirts a plentyT shirts a plenty

Oh Baby It's A Wild World
a 40-mile drive can routinely take two hours. No way we intended to be late for this performance. MJ’s drive was 2.5 hours and Dave’s drive about an hour. We arrived in plenty of time to dine in a local waterhole called the Waterford. When in Philadelphia, order the Philly cheese stake and we did.

MJ took photos of the Yusuf empty equipment boxes stacked in the back alley of the theatre.



We found Matt and his father Michael outside the theatre. Security was on high alert. Whoever purchased the tickets had to show the credit card they used, it had to match their driver’s license and all those sitting together had to enter together, everyone showing their driver’s license. We emptied our pockets and passed through scanners, pockets and purses searched. We were in!!



As we entered the theatre we became aware of the beauty of this historical building and as we saw a table full of Yusuf – Cat Stevens. MJ stopped. The look on her face stunned and absolute joy.



Yusuf had selected small intimate venues around the world for his 15-stop tour with only a handful
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5 U.S. Cities
of them in the U.S. The Tower Theatre was an amazing venue to experience a concert. Not too big, not too small, great acoustics. It felt intimate. It felt like we were spending an evening with old friends.



We were instructed no photos, no video. We were allowed to take photos of the theatre before the performance began. They made it clear they might ask you to leave and it was not worth the risk of missing a moment of this performance. MJ took one photo, though. Temptation was too much for her. Got to have at least one memory of this fine evening.



The stage setting was a train station. The peace train is coming. His voice hasn’t changed. Still strong and vibrant. His calm demeanor permeated the audience. He mixed old and new and we both enjoyed a great show. The crowd was enthusiastic and we imagined many of them were in the same dream state as we were, seeing a fine musician. MJ would occasionally shed a tear of joy, as she had realized a dream she thought would never come true.



FYI he sang MJ's favorite song, Morning has Broken and Dave's favorite song, Trouble!



DECEMBER 4, 2104 Cat Stevens in concert….bucket list . …Check


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Concert excitementConcert excitement
Concert excitement

Eagerly awaiting
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Cat Stevens Countdown

Will he sing Trouble?
Tomato Vegetable SoupTomato Vegetable Soup
Tomato Vegetable Soup

Pre-concert dinner.
Philly CheesesteakPhilly Cheesesteak
Philly Cheesesteak

Waterford Restaurant
Will he sing Morning Has Broken?Will he sing Morning Has Broken?
Will he sing Morning Has Broken?

Dancing, Singing, Shopping


15th December 2014

You are so lucky!
So great you were able to do this.....a highlight of one day's walk in Spain last year was an street musician playing Cat Stevens covers....!
15th December 2014

Cat Stevens
I'd love to hear a street musician doing his covers. So many of us out wandering the world are in tune to his music. It was grand. I'm still vibrating with excitement.
15th December 2014

Nice one.... and inspiration to this wanna be songster to go back and relearn some of those great songs. Meanwhile we still need that Peace Train on this sorry planet no?
15th December 2014

Our planet needs a Peace Train
I value the choices he made as he was true to himself no matter what others thought. He is now singing his music again- his music, his way. Life is a journey. I hope you'll relearn some of those songs. His new CD has some good music. It is a bit bluesy.
15th December 2014

Cat Stevens
So happy for you and at the same time so jealous. His concert in SF dold put so fast and I didn't have luck on Craig's List.
15th December 2014

U.S. Concerts
Sorry you were not able to get tickets on Craig's list or when they first went on sale. The concert was amazing. I hope that he will tour again next year and you'll have an opportunity to hear him perform. He still sounds great. I'm glad he is on the road again.
15th December 2014
T shirts a plenty

Oh, Baby, It's a Wild World...
...and everything is possible--dreams do come true and the Peace Train can lead us all home again. So happy that you were able to find that Morning Has Broken, and that, though Trouble seemed to find tickets sold out, the Peace Train led you to a A Father and Son, who gave you tickets for a perfect night. Congrats! Once, when young, I bought an old flute and learned to play the Bach Flute Sonatas by ear. Then going down the Grand Canyon on a private raft trip, I met and played Cat Stevens' Moonshadow from a tape player. I still carry him on my IPOD as I travel. The Peace Train does indeed arrive--patience and perseverance reward, as the I Ching counsels. Well done, travelers!
15th December 2014
T shirts a plenty

A Wild World Indeed
Loved your message. Thanks for your comments. Love to hear you play your flute one day. I can see you rafting the river. Life gives us so many wonderful moments.
15th December 2014

Sweet story
Oh yes, Cat Stevens.... saw him on the Jimmy Fallon shows last week. Brought back many memories. I can only imagine your joy and delight at fulfilling your dream. My favorite was Dan Folgelberg. I always hoped to see him in concert but I think he has passed away. I still have old cassette tapes.... Thanks for a lovely story. Carolyn
15th December 2014

Sweet Story
Sorry you missed Dan Folgelberg. I'm so grateful to have fulfilled the dream. For decades I was pretty certain it would not come true. Never give up on the dream.
15th December 2014

Fantastic!
Wow! What a wonderful bucket moment, I am so you got to see Yusuf. Isn't his voice just amazing. I saw him on Fallon singing my favourite song, you are my sunshine! So great!
15th December 2014

Fantastic!
It was fantastic and I've watched that Fallon clip several times. His voice is still amazing. No changes from what I could tell. The audience embraced him warmly.
15th December 2014

Yay
This is SO AMAZING! I'm so happy for you!
15th December 2014

Yay
As you've learned recently we should never give up on our dreams.....they do come true. Glad you are living on an island!
15th December 2014

Awesome!!
So happy for you guys! Sounds like it was a blast!
15th December 2014

Awesome
Thanks Greg, it was amazing. A night of memories past and present.
15th December 2014
Will he sing Morning Has Broken?

Cat that got the Cream
Hi Merry Jo - You look like the 'Cat that got the Cream' - or is it the 'Cream that got the Cat'!!!! - happy days - Paul & Sheila
15th December 2014
Will he sing Morning Has Broken?

Lapping up all the cream
Yes Happy days. It was an amazing journey. I think it was enhanced by traveling so many miles to the concert. I had time to have quiet anticipation on the way and quiet reflection on the way home.
15th December 2014

Living your dream!
What a fantastic experience - it's wonderful that you were able to fulfill one of your childhood dreams. Your excitement definitely shines through here. I'm a big fan of Cat Stevens myself, so just a little bit jealous. But you definitely deserved that ticket!
15th December 2014

Living your dream!
10 days later and I'm still pinching myself as it is hard to believe I was in the same room with Yusuf/Cat. Yes, I'm still feeling shiny.
15th December 2014

Into White
A man of lyrics and memorable melodies "Bring tea for the Tillerman Steak for the sun Wine for the women who made the rain come Seagulls sing your hearts away 'Cause while the sinners sin, the children play Oh Lord how they play and play For that happy day, for that happy day" Then when the morning had broken there was Into White. Ah...the memories...my Lady d'Arbanville!
15th December 2014

Into white
The dancing one understands the lyrics that capture and mesmerize the soul. The words that take you on a journey to far away lands. See you soon and we can sip some tea, talk of troubles under the moon shadow.
15th December 2014

what a great story! (we had morning has broken sang at our wedding!)
15th December 2014

Hi Lydia,
I wish I'd been at your wedding to hear that song!
15th December 2014

Absolutely love this!
I always love reading your blogs, this one gave me goose bumps!
15th December 2014

Absolute love
The Cat is a master and he gave me goose bumps also.
15th December 2014

Wow!!!
You were so lucky that someone was willing to sell you tickets. Otherwise, you would have had to fly to another city. Oh, we sent you a Christmas card to your CA address...I hope it gets forwarded to you!
15th December 2014

Wow
I would have been willing to fly to another city or another country. I feel fortunate to have been able to purchase tickets. I'll bet the Christmas card will catch up with us eventually.
15th December 2014

Cat Stevens
So glad to hear Merry-Jo was given this opportunity. It sounds like you both had an amazing time!
15th December 2014

Cat Stevens
Amazing indeed. We had so much fun. I was so happy tears were streaming down my face. Very emotional.
15th December 2014

The Cat
What a fabulous outcome - so glad you had a great time! If he does another tour, you could add a 'part b' to that wish list item, 'see Cat in concert while travelling' :)
15th December 2014

The Cat
I'm ready to buy tickets to next year's tour. I hope there is one. I'm willing to go to a concert while traveling. I'm ready here, there or any where.
17th December 2014
One Hour until Cat Stevens!

Too cute!
This photo is adorable, you look so excited!
17th December 2014
One Hour until Cat Stevens!

Too Cute
Thanks Deni, I was feeling very excited and I guess it showed. What a fun evening. It's been a journey.
17th December 2014

Fantastic!
I too am an avid music lover and understand the absolute thrill of finally seeing someone who you thought you never would! Being able to see him in such a beautiful little theatre is simply wonderful! The joy of the evening is etched on your faces, so lovely x
18th December 2014

Fantastic
Emma, thanks for writing. Music is magic and ties us all together. It is something seeing someone who you thought you'd never ever see perform. Yes the theatre was perfect. I could not have asked for a better experience.
18th December 2014

Excellent post!
So glad you got to fulfill a life long dream. I love his music too, so I can imagine the experience was magical….
18th December 2014

Thanks Lexi
It was so much fun.
18th December 2014
One Hour until Cat Stevens!

Dreams do come true
Look at that gigantic smile! Happiness written all over your face Merry Jo! Really happy for you both, sounds like you had a great time! It's the moments like this that count the most... Thanks for sharing :-)
18th December 2014
One Hour until Cat Stevens!

Dreams do come true
Yes a big smile, pure happiness. Thanks for reading and sending a message.
22nd December 2014

Destiny
What an amazing experience to just fall into your laps, not just any old experience either but something you really wanted to be able to enjoy one day. It could so easily not have happened but it was obviously destined that you should be there. Glad you enjoyed it and that you were able to share this inspiring report as a result.
22nd December 2014

Destiny
We do believe you end up where you need to be. Thanks for reading and sending your kind words. It was a fantastic night.
25th December 2014

Cat Stevens
Wow - you were lucky to get the tickets. Brings back many memories of life when he was Cat Stevens and we were young singing along to his songs. . What a fantastic opportunity to fulfil one of your dreams. Mine to have seen Queen they must have been epic in concert. Sadly not to be .
28th December 2014

Cat Stevens
Queen would have been great. Life is full of opportunity.
28th December 2014

Peace train
So good hearing from you and glad you are reading along. Hopefully we will see you again soon.
30th December 2014

life is an amazing journey
Wow..you look like a perfect novel writer to me. Your choice of words are fantastic....keep travelling and keep writing..you are inspiring many
30th December 2014

An amazing journey
Thank you for your kind words.
12th January 2015

Once Cat Stevens always Cat Stevens
Any plans for this year guys?
12th January 2015

2015 plans
Too much work and too little travel. Cat Stevens was as you say Cat Stevens. Heading out on a Caribbean Cruise next week.

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