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Best Songs of 2014

December 29, 2014
Best Songs of 2014

2014 is coming to an end, and we've narrowed down the top ten best songs of the year, as well as the most catchy tunes (though those ones are not necessarily the best). What songs made YOUR list?

Top 10 Tracks of 2014

1.) “Weight of Love” – The Black Keys
2.) “Money Power Glory” – Lana Del Rey
3.) “Something From Nothing” – Foo Fighters
4.) “Prince Johnny” – St. Vincent
5.) “Lazaretto” – Jack White
6.) “Black Out Days” – Phantogram
7.) “Every Breaking Wave” – U2
8.) “Ten Tonne Skeleton” – Royal Blood
9.) “No Rest for the Wicked” – Lykke Li
10.) “Seeds” – TV On The Radio

Top 10 Guilty Pleasures of 2014

1.) “Turn Down For What” – DJ Snake (feat. Lil Jon)
2.) “Blank Space” – Taylor Swift
3.) “Boom Clap” – Charli XCX
4.) “Flawless” (Remix) – Beyonce (feat. Nicki Minaj)
5.) “Problem” – Ariana Grande(feat. Iggy Azalea)
6.) “Stay With Me” – Sam Smith
7.) “Lemonade” – Danity Kane
8.) “Shut Up and Dance” – WALK THE MOON
9.) “Jealous” – Nick Jonas
10.) “Back to the Shack” – Weezer
©Jack White, 2014

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8 Ways to Rock Festivus

December 23, 2014
Festivus

Not everyone enjoys the annual wallet-depleting, spoiled-kids-whining, tacky-decorations-galore fest that is Christmas. December 23rd has thus become a secular holiday to celebrate in alternative fashions. Today’s the day to air your grievances and attribute anything to a Festivus miracle. Popularized by the Seinfeld episode, we have a few of our own ideas to make your Festivus rock while still staying in spirit (including a Seinfeld marathon).

1.) Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale - Known from his former rock n' roll days in the band Twisted Sister, Dee Snider's take on Xmas is sure to look more like an episode of Metalocalypse than The Nutcracker. As a metal band sells their souls to the devil to ensure their fame, they realize that such trickery comes with a price. If you want to experience something totally off-kilter and you happen to be in Chicago, check out Dee Snider’s Rock & Roll Christmas Tale.

2.) This Foo Fighters Black Metal Ugly Christmas Sweater

3.) Die Hard - Watch all the "Christmas" movies that have nothing to do with Christmas, but are played on TV stations because there's one scene where it's snowing or the events happen to occur on December 25th (e.g. Harry Potter, Lethal Weapon, Lord of the Rings, Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, Rent).

4.) Anti-consumerism - Don't buy anything today. The crowds will be monstrous, and if you haven't done your shopping yet, it's pretty much too late anyway. Way to go.

5.) Blast Van Halen - Overpower all Christmas music with some serious guitar shredding.

6.) Non-traditional dinner - Eat whatever you want as long as it's not ham, turkey, fruitcake, or apple pie. Order Chinese take-out or stay true to the Seinfeld episode with spaghetti and meatloaf.

7.) Let it go - Your grievances, that is, NOT the Frozen song. Tell the people who've disappointed you this year what you really think. You'll feel much better afterwards, even if they don't.

8.) Seinfeld marathon - Watch the Festivus episode, obviously, but enjoy a few more while you're at it. The next two days are going to be stressful at best and very messy at worst, so get your humor hour in now before it's non-stop family fun and Uncle Ted inappropriately rearranges the reindeer on your front yard and is walking around the neighborhood drinking a bottle of Jim Beam in his Santa suit.

Happy Festivus!

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Last Minute Gift Guide

Christmas is only a few days away, so if you're still searching for that perfect present, check out our last minute gift guide:

Motown Mamma – Treat the supermom in your life with Broadway tickets this holiday season. No stage production can compare to those of the Great White Way, so book a trip to NYC via our Travel page and secure your seats to Motown: The Musical, Mamma Mia!, or any of the other amazing performances waiting to be experienced in the Big Apple.

Dangerous Dad – Is your father displaying signs of a mid-life crisis? Is he browsing motorcycle ads, breaking out his old records, or taking a sudden interest in starting a dad band? If so, concert tickets to shows like Def Leppard, U2, Bob Seger, or The Who are the best way to let him re-live his glory days whilst enjoying quality time with the best gift-giver ever – you!

Sassy Sista – Teenage girls can be hard to please, especially if, like, their Instagram posts aren’t getting as much attention as they think they deserve. Distract them from the perils of social media this Christmas with One Direction tickets, Taylor Swift tickets, or 5 Seconds of Summer tickets. She will be OMG-ing for days and officially be the coolest kid at school.

Brawny Bro – Sick of hearing the sports highlights on repeat? Send your brother out for the day with college football tickets, NFL tickets, or NHL tickets. Root on your home team with him for some family bonding or enjoy the peace while he has a bro date with his best dude. Either way, you'll be his new favorite sibling.

Cool Cuz – There’s always the cousin that’s just too cool for school. Tickets to concerts like The Black Keys, Patti Smith, Gogol Bordello, or Flaming Lips will definitely appease them, if not crack their façade of ironic indifference. Go the indie route, and you’ll be in the clear.

Grumpy Granny – Grandparents are hard to shop for, but they like to party from time to time too! Give the gift of a classy night out with Andrea Bocelli tickets or New York City Ballet tickets. Joel Osteen is always a good option as well for fans of the famous preacher. Remember, the oldies are goodies; tickets to Neil Diamond or Barry Manilow are sure to turn your Na-Na's frown upside down.

Tiny Tim – For the little tikes in your life, circus tickets or Disney on Ice tickets are an awesome answer for the winter blues. Get out of the house and see Olaf the Snowman perform fantastic feats or acrobats flying through the air. Sharing magical experiences like these are what the holidays are all about, after all.

And if all else fails, get a Ticket Liquidator gift card to let your loved ones choose which event they most want to see this season. Best of luck with the rest of your holiday shopping!

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Event tickets on sale

Here's a list of the hottest events with dates going on sale this week. Our event of the week is Iggy Azalea. This hot rapper will be launching her 2015 "The Great Escape" Tour in North America next April, so buy your concert tickets now to spend your spring break with Iggy and Nick Jonas. New Found Glory has lots of tickets going on sale today as well, following the announcement of their upcoming "Sleep When I Die" Tour, and Marilyn Manson is preparing to rock venues across the country next month on his "Hell Not Hallelujah" Tour. Speaking of tours, if you love EDM you'll want to pick up tickets to the Steve Aoki “Neon Future Experience” Tour to see this famous DJ drop mad beats. And if you need last minute gift ideas for mom and dad, consider classic rock tickets to concerts like Styx, Foreigner, or Billy Joel. For tickets to these events and more, head over to Ticket Liquidator.

Concert Tickets On Sale

Event

Date

Cities

Animal Collective Friday, 12/19/14 Dallas, TX; Philadelphia, PA; Brooklyn, NY
Billy Joel Friday, 12/19/14 New York, NY; Minneapolis, MN
Burt Bacharach Friday, 12/19/14 Englewood, NJ
Diana Ross Thursday, 12/18/14 St. Petersburg, FL; Hollywood, FL
Foreigner Thursday, 12/19/14 Winnipeg, MB
Iggy Azalea Thursday, 12/19/14 Auburn Hills, MI; Toronto, ON; Boston, MA; Brooklyn, NY; Newark, NJ; Philadelphia, PA; Washington, DC; Baltimore, MD; Orlando, FL; Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Rosemont, IL; Dallas, TX; Houston, TX; Austin, TX; Glendale, AZ; Denver, CO; Fresno, CA; Sacramento, CA; Oakland, CA; Los Angeles, CA; San Diego, CA; Las Vegas, NV
Logic Friday, 12/19/14 Silver Spring, MD
Marilyn Manson Friday, 12/19/14 Saskatoon, SK; Regina, SK; Winnipeg, MB; Edmonton, AB; Penticton, BC; Prince George, BC; Dawson Creek, BC; Vancouver, BC
New Found Glory Thursday, 12/18/14 Nashville, TN; Little Rock, AR; Cincinnati, OH; Columbus, OH; Lancaster, PA; Sayreville, NJ; Huntington, NY; Silver Spring, MD; Orlando, FL; Charleston, SC; Lawrence, KS; Des Moines, IA; Minneapolis, MN; Palatine, IL; Nashville, TN; New Orleans, LA; Pomona, CA; Oakland, CA
One Direction Friday, 12/19/14 Kanata, ON
Steve Aoki Friday, 12/19/14 Norfolk, VA; Royal Oak, MI; Wallingford, CT; New York, NY; Boston, MA; Washington, DC; Charlotte, NC; Kansas City, MO; Chicago, IL; St Louis, MO; Denver, CO; Tucson, AZ
Styx Friday, 12/19/14 Lawrenceburg, IN; Fort Worth, IN

Sport Tickets On Sale

Event

Date

Cities

New York Islanders Monday, 12/22/14 Uniondale, NY
Pittsburgh Steelers Thursday, 12/18/14 Pittsburgh, PA
University of South Carolina Gamecocks Friday, 12/19/14 Columbia, SC
WWE Smackdown Saturday, 12/20/14 Moline, IL; Sunrise, FL; Atlanta, GA; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO

Theatre Tickets On Sale

Event

Date

Cities

50 Shades! The Musical Friday, 12/19/14 Scranton, PA; Memphis, TN
Motown the Musical Friday, 12/19/14 Memphis, TN

Other

Event

Date

Cities

Kevin Hart Friday, 12/19/14 Fort Wayne, IN
Ringling Bros. Monday, 12/22/14 Youngstown, OH

Anything catch your eye? Find tickets to these events and more at Ticket Liquidator.


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Best Christmas Movies

1.) A Christmas Story - Based on the hilarious short stories by the great Jean Shepherd, A Christmas Story takes place in the idyllic 1950's when punishments involved washing your mouth out with soap and entertainment revolved around radio programs and triple dog dares. This holiday classic runs for a 24-hour marathon every year on TBS between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so you won't miss Ralphie's dedicated quest for a Red Ryder BB gun and his father's never-ending battle with their house's furnace. The spot-on narration by Jean Shepherd himself will have you laughing so hard eggnog may come out of your nose.

2.) Elf - Will Ferrell and Zooey Deschanel -- what more could you ask for? A comedy about a grown man who was raised in the North Pole and then thrown in the the harsh reality of New York City to find his real father, Elf became an instant fan favorite in 2003. Beloved by parents and children alike, you can't go wrong spending some quality time with Buddy the Elf who takes his spaghetti with maple syrup.

3.) Home Alone - A staple of the 90's, Home Alone introduced the adorable Macaulay Culkin to the world and secured John Hughes in the hearts of American film-lovers. Watch Kevin McCallister outsmart two bad guys the way any clever kid would after his parents accidentally leave him behind -- booby traps and slick moves. Don't leave this iconic movie off your December watchlist. Children will find new inspiration in the heroic efforts and the timeless face of a young Macaulay Culkin.

4.) The Muppet Christmas Carol - The Muppets make everything better, especially this Dickensian tale of holiday warning, which, let's be honest, is a bit bleak. Batman's Michael Caine stars in the film as Ebenezer Scrooge alongside Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit, and the rest of the Muppets gang brightens up poor 19th century London with songs and comedic interjections. If you want to be inspired by A Christmas Carol without being entirely bored, check out the Muppets version; you won't be disappointed.

5.) Jingle All The Way - Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent coupled with funny guy sidekicks, Sinbad and Phil Hartman, lends itself hilariously to an off-beat Christmas movie critiquing the over-commercialization and high stress of the season. Jingle All The Way is a ridiculous story of con-men dressed as Santa, a hijacked parade float, and a postman gone postal. There's no real moral to the story, just that if you're in the right place at the right time, you could end up saving Christmas for your neglected son who you've repeatedly let down by being too busy with your career to show up at his karate lessons or remember the only present he asked for this year.

6.) A Charlie Brown Christmas - It wouldn't be Christmas without Charles Schulz's Peanuts gang. Dating back to 1965, this Charlie Brown special has become a tradition in homes all across the country. It has since won an Emmy Award and a Peabody Award with its jazzy soundtrack becoming just as popular and successful. If you haven't seen this moving cartoon story, tune in this year to A Charlie Brown Christmas or introduce the family custom to your little ones.

7.) The Polar Express - Based on the beautiful children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express is a motion capture computer-animated film that feels as if you've jumped into the storybook itself. Tom Hanks plays an astonishing six roles, and the movie made the Guinness World Book of Records in 2006 as the first all-digital capture film. There's nothing as magical as a train ride to the North Pole, and for the first time ever in a Christmas movie, that experience is visceral, capturing both the joy and fear that a child would have on a journey of such magnitude.

8.) Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas - While the animated version is a classic, Jim Carrey's portrayal of the Grinch is one of the funniest in Christmas cinema history, and it is, in fact, the highest-grossing holiday film to date. Nominated for several Academy Awards, How The Grinch Stole Christmas is also the first Dr. Seuss book to be adapted into a feature film. All in all, it is a good lesson on not ostracizing the Other, and that this time of year should be about inclusion, not exclusion.

9.) Love Actually - With an all-star cast including Keira Knightley, Hugh Grant, Colin Firth, Liam Neeson, Bill Nighy, Emma Thompson, and Harry Potter's Alan Rickman, Love Actually tells several interlocking stories about various aspects of love and loss around the holidays. This British comedy is a feel-good film that manages to shine a positive light on subjects as dark as divorce, death, and infidelity to remind us all that love actually does exist, even if it's in places we hadn't previously realized.

10.) The Nightmare Before Christmas - If you love Halloween just as much as Christmas, then this Tim Burton blockbuster is destined to make your playlist. Jack Skellington is curious about other seasons and wants to bring a little Santa spirit back home. It proves more difficult than he originally thought though, and Sally must intervene to save her love and the holidays. With a killer soundtrack and amazing stop motion animation, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a must-see for all Disney fans.

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AC/DC: Rock or Bust?

December 15, 2014
Old Time Rock n Roll

There are many performers who are still going at it well into their elder years nowadays - The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, Bob Seger, etc. Despite arthritis, hearing loss, and even dementia, there's just no stopping rock n' roll. What do YOU think? Are these guys too old to rock?

AC/DC Rock or Bust Tour

AC/DC released their fifteenth international studio album, Rock or Bust, earlier this month, and though it met with generally positive reviews, it is their shortest album to date at only 35 minutes long, and two of the band's key members will most likely be unable to participate in the Rock or Bust 2015 Tour. Angus Young, 59-year-old co-founder and lead guitarist, still rocks the schoolboy outfit, but his older brother Malcolm, the 61-year-old rhythm guitarist, had to quit the band earlier this year due to dementia. His nephew, Stevie Young, will be taking his place because of "the nature of Malcolm's condition."

67-year-old lead singer Brian Johnson has also been experiencing health problems, having been diagnosed with Barrett syndrome in 2009. Though doctors were able to prevent it from developing into cancer, Johnson's syndrome forced the band to cancel several dates on their Black Ice Tour. It is unclear how this esophageal condition will affect future performances. Additionally, in November 2014, 60-year-old drummer Phil Rudd was charged with methamphetamine possession, attempting to procure a murder, and threatening to kill, which was followed by a police raid on his home. Though Malcolm is the one suffering from dementia, it seems Phil's mental stability is questionable at best.

AC/DC has been rocking since the early 1970's and has gone through multiple lineup changes during those 40 years. How many times can you replace a band member before the group becomes an entirely new act? When does one allow their career to come to a natural resting point? Their upcoming "Rock or Bust" Tour takes on a literal meaning then - will they rock or will it be a bust?

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"Every Breaking Wave" is the next U2 classic

December 12, 2014

U2 first debuted "Every Breaking Wave" in 2010 on the 360° Tour -- but the version U2 played, which featured only Bono and The Edge, is much different than the finished product that was released on Songs of Innocence. Four years ago, U2 planned to release a follow-up album to No Line on the Horizon prior to the final 2011 leg of the 360° Tour, but the ill-fated Spider-Man broadway project got in the way.

Elements of the 2010 version of "Wave" remain intact -- the verse lyric and melody are the same. The chorus, however, is brand-new, and the song's original chorus is now its middle eight.

Often times, tinkering with a song too much can have a less-than-desireable result. "All Because of You" is one U2 song that should've just been released as soon as it was finished, as the Chris Thomas-produced version is superior to the version that landed on How to Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, but the end result of "Every Breaking Wave" is one of U2's best songs.

The Songs of Innocence version of "Wave" starts off with a pulsating bass and simple drum beat, before Bono's vocal kicks in. While the Innocence version of "Wave" is good, the stripped down, piano and strings version that U2 have played on their promotional tour is what transforms this song into one of the best songs U2 have ever written -- a testament to the strong song-writing that went into "Wave."

(Video via U2's YouTube channel)

The piano version, also found on the deluxe version of Innocence, begins with The Edge trading in his guitar and delay pedal for a piano, before Bono begins singing.

"Every breaking wave on the shore
Tells the next one there'll be one more
And every gambler knows that to lose
Is what you're really there for
Summer I was fearless
Now I speak into an answer phone
Like every falling leaf on the breeze
Winter wouldn't leave it alone"

The imagery that Bono uses to paint his picture is a call-back to the Unforgettable Fire era, when Bono's lyrics invoked more imagery and were a bit more poetic than visceral. The piano-only verse also suits the songs lyrics and meaning much better.

After conjuring up the picture of old man winter not letting a dead leaf fall to its final rest, the song launches into its first chorus:

"If you go
If you go your way and I go mine
Are we so?
Are we so helpless against the tide?
Baby, every dog on the street
Knows that we're in love with defeat
Are we ready to be swept off our feet?
And stop chasing
Every breaking wave"

Thematically, the song gains more clarity after the chorus. The protagonist in the song feels helpless, as a loved one simply isn't there for him or her at that point in time.

Every sailor knows that the sea
Is a friend made enemy
And every shipwrecked soul knows what it is
To live without intimacy
I thought I heard the captain's voice
But it's hard to listen while you preach
Like every broken wave on the shore
This is as far as I could reach"

More metaphors! The protagonist's state of mind is similar to that of a shipwrecked soul, or to a wave breaking on the shore; his or her psyche has to cope with accepting the fact that there is only so much that one person can do. No matter how far much you do for another person or how much you want to help, you can only reach as far as a broken wave on the shore at times -- especially if the other person is incapable of listening or accepting help.

During the song's second verse, a string section kicks in -- adding a perfect touch of melancholy.

The middle eight and final chorus is what truly separates the piano version from the album version. As soon as Bono begins singing after a brief interlude, Larry Mullen Jr. and Adam Clayton join the band -- with Mullen providing a driving beat.

"The sea knows we're on the rocks
And drowning is no sin
You know where my heart is
The same place yours has been
We know that we fear to win
So we end before we begin
Before we begin"

After that, U2 launches into "Wave's" third and final chorus, with the full band and string section all playing at once -- creating the climax that the song didn't have on the album.

The middle eight and final chorus illustrate that the protagonist knows what the other person is going through -- but resigns to his or herself that this relationship just isn't going to work unless the other person submits themselves to the idea of an actual relationship and stops running away, or, stops chasing every breaking wave.

Where "With or Without You" expresses a desire to be with somebody and a willingness to wait, and "One" accepts differences between two people while acknowledging that we have to carry each other, "Wave" is more defeated and perhaps more rooted in reality -- the protagonist simply knows that he or she can only do so much.

And let's be real here anyway -- if somebody does go chasing every breaking wave, are they even worth the fight?

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Events on sale this week

Here's a list of the hottest events with dates going on sale this week. Our event of the week is Vans Warped Tour. You won’t want to miss America’s largest travelling music festival when it comes to your city, so check out the lineup and buy your tickets ASAP. U2 is still making killer waves with the recent announcement of their 2015 iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE Tour, so secure your seats soon to see Bono live in concert. Fleetwood Mac just added more dates to their U.S. tour as well, so if you're still searching for the perfect gift for your parents, pick up some Fleetwood Mac tickets soon. And, of course, Taylor Swift is preparing her for her upcoming 1989 World Tour, so "Shake It Off" with America's darling next summer and buy your concert tickets today! For tickets to these events and more, head over to Ticket Liquidator.

Concerts

Event

Date

Cities

Alan Jackson Friday, 12/12/14 St Augustine, FL
Brad Paisley Friday, 12/12/14 Cedar Rapids, IA
Carrie Underwood Saturday, 12/13/14 Allentown, PA
Chris Brown Friday, 12/12/14 Bridgeport, CT
Fleetwood Mac Monday, 12/15/14 Inglewood, CA; Orlando, FL; Miami, FL; Atlanta, GA; Houston, TX; Dallas, TX; Denver, CO; Bakersfield, CA; Oakland, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Vancouver, BC
Foreigner Friday, 12/12/14 Winnipeg, MB
Garth Brooks Friday, 12/12/14 Pittsburgh, PA
Garth Brooks Friday, 12/19/14 Detroit, MI
Jason Aldean Friday, 12/12/14 Wichita, KS; Toledo, OH; Hershey, PA; Tupelo, MS; Wichita, KS; Corpus Christi, TX; Paso Robles, CA
Kenny Chesney Friday, 12/12/14 Uncasville, CT; Houston, TX; Las Vegas, NV
Miranda Lambert Saturday, 12/13/14 New York, NY; Bossier City, LA; Biloxi, MS
Taylor Swift Friday, 12/12/14 Ottawa, ON; Washington, DC; Columbus, OH; Fargo, ND; Kansas City, MO; Saint Paul, MN; Omaha, NE; Salt Lake City, UT; Louisville, KY; Lexington, KY; Los Angeles, CA; Santa Clara, CA
U2 Monday, 12/15/14 Chicago, IL; Boston, MA
Vans Warped Tour Friday, 12/12/14 Atlanta, GA; St. Petersburg, FL; Orlando, FL; Virginia Beach, VA; Burgettstown, PA; Camden, NJ; Wantagh, NY; Hartford, CT; Mansfield, MA; Cincinnati, OH; Scranton, PA; Auburn Hills, MI; Noblesville, IN; Columbia, MD; West Palm Beach, FL; Charlotte, NC; Wantagh, NY; Holmdel, NJ; Cuyahoga Falls, OH; Darien Center, NY; Houston, TX; San Antonio, TX; Tinley Park, IL; Shakopee, MN; Maryland Heights, MO; Milwaukee, WI; Dallas, TX; Bonner Springs, KS; Albuquerque, NM; Denver, CO; Mountain View, CA; San Diego, CA; Auburn, WA; Jacksonville, FL
Read more...

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Yusuf Islam Formerly Known As Cat Stevens

Yusuf, the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens will be playing a few concerts this December for the first time in almost 40 years. I was curious what inspired this conversion to a new name and lifestyle, so here are six things you should know about the man now known as Yusuf:

1.) Former Self – Cat Stevens (born Steven Demetre Georgio) is best known for his albums Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and Teaser and the Firecat (1971), which were both certified triple platinum and produced best-selling singles like “Wild World,” “Father and Son,” “Moonshadow,” and “Peace Train.” However, although he experienced immense success as a musician, Cat Stevens always felt that there was something greatly lacking in his life. Having tried many forms of spirituality from Buddhism to tarot cards, Cat Stevens knew that music alone was not enough to fill him.

2.) Catharsis – In 1975, a near-death experience in the Pacific Ocean ignited Cat Stevens’ belief in a higher power. Having been pulled out by a riptide off the coast of Malibu, Cat Stevens recalls in an interview with San Francisco’s KQED radio’s Michael Krasny:

“After swimming for about half an hour, I couldn’t get back to shore. At that point, quite simply, there was no one to help me. As they say, you’ll never find an atheist on a sinking ship. I called out. I said, ‘Oh God, if you save me, I’ll work for you.’ And at that moment a wave, however big it was, came from behind me and pushed me forward and suddenly I had all the energy I needed. I was back on land and safe. Some people would say, well, it was a coincidence, but for me…it was a miracle.”

His brother had recently brought him a copy of the Quran from Jerusalem, and upon his brush with death, Stevens immediately found resonance with its wisdom. Adopting the name Yusuf in 1978, the Arabic form of Joseph, Stevens decided to suspend his music career and devote himself to non-selfish work.

3.) Philanthropy – Despite his commitment to living free from worldly desires, Yusuf Islam was still earning over $1.5 million per year from his music as Cat Stevens. He decided to put this money towards educating London’s Muslim community. He founded several Muslims schools, setting up The Association of Muslim Schools (AMS-UK) in 1992. Yusuf served as chairman of Muslim Aid from 1985 to 1993 and is the founder and chairman of Small Kindness, a charity that assists thousands of orphans and families in Iraq, Indonesia, and the Balkans.

4.) Children’s Singer – Yusuf couldn’t stay away from music for long. In 2000, he wrote and produced a children’s album with singer Zain Bhikha after coming to the realization that there wasn’t a lot of educational resources for children of the Islamic faith. He titled the album A is for Allah. Yusuf used the title song as a tool to introduce his children to both Islam and Arabic. He also used this opportunity to launch his own record label called Jamal Records. Yusuf donates a portion of the label’s earnings to his charity Small Kindness.

5.) Relief and Peace Efforts – Prior to his official return to music, Yusuf still held quite a few performances, all for a good cause. He played in the following charity concerts to help raise awareness for specific issues and money for those in need:

2001: Concert for New York City - donating to the fund for families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks

2003: Nelson Mandela’s 46664 concert - spreading awareness of HIV/AIDS in South Africa

2004: Yusuf released a new version of “Father and Son,” donating the proceeds to the Band Aid charity

2005: Proceeds from his song “Indian Ocean” about the 2004 tsunami disaster and earthquake in the Indian Ocean went to aid the orphans in Banda Aceh, which was one of the locations worst affected by the tsunami.

2005: Yusuf performed in Düsseldorf at the Adopt-A-Minefield Gala to help raise awareness about landmines and funds to help get rid of minefields in the Middle East and Southeast Asia and contribute to the landmine victims’ recovery process.

2006: Nobel Peace Prize Concert - honoring Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank, the prize winners of the Nobel Peace Prize

6.) New Albums – In 2006, Yusuf released his first studio album since 1978, An Other Cup, which embodied his former Cat Stevens sound, but lyrically exemplified his new identity. (He resolved his previous qualms about the use of the guitar within the Muslim faith, noting that Muhammad enjoyed celebrations as it brought people together.) Yusuf released another album in 2009 called Roadsinger, which he promoted much more heavily than An Other Cup, appearing on programs like The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and The Colbert Report. He finally gave in to a world tour to support the album’s release, coming back full circle into the music community as a showman. The tour was aptly named “Guess I’ll Take My Time.” This fall he toured the U.S. for the first time since 1976. He also released his third studio album as Yusuf titled Tell 'Em I'm Gone.

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Bah Humbug

I may be the youngest curmudgeon ever, but there are some things about the holiday season that I'm thankful only come once a year. The Grinch and Scrooge exist for the following reasons:

1.) Christmas photo cards – When people without kids dress up their pets and pose with them.

Scrooge

2.) Wrapping presents – Paper cuts and tape EVERYWHERE.

3.) Eggnog – Nope, sorry, it’s disgusting.

4.) “Let it Go”-induced insanity – Parents, you know what I mean.

5.) Inflatable yard decorations – They're tacky, obnoxious, and terrifying.

6.) Consumerism – I think we can all agree it's getting out of control.

7.) Salvation Army Bell Ringers – I'd love to donate, but you're giving me a migraine.

8.) Untangling Christmas lights – Hours of labor to find out they don't work.

9.) Pirate Pollyanna – A waste of time and money and is ultimately unsatisfying.

10.) Elf on the Shelf – It's just creepy.

11.) December 25th birthdays – All your friends are busy so you celebrate alone.

12.) Being old – When you actually NEED stuff, your family gives you nothing.

13.) Claymation movies – They take over your fave TV shows and are painfully boring.

14.) Traffic – If you live near a mall or any retail store for that matter, I'm so sorry.

15.) Work – "Yeah, I'm going to need you to work Christmas Eve, and the day after."

16.) Christmas trees – They're not meant to be indoors, who knew? So when your cat knocks it over, breaking a life-long collection of Lenox ornaments and there's shattered glass all over everything, don't be surprised.

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