Yusuf Islam has had a big pop cultural presence this year between being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, replacing The Simpsons’ theme music, battling scalpers, performing with the Roots, covering Edgar Winter and being covered by Father John Misty. And he still hasn’t even released his new album, the Rick Rubin-produced Tell ‘Em I’m Gone (his first in five years), or headed out on tour (his first North American outing in 35 years), which should keep him busy through the end of 2014. The Procol Harum cover “The Devil Came From Kansas,” the second song Yusuf has shared from the album, features Will Oldham on backing vocals because that guy is everywhere. Spin premiered the track and had Oldham interview Yusuf too. Here’s part of their exchange:
Oldham: I’ve been listening to it non-stop all week since I got it, and yeah, it sounds really exciting. All right, I’ve got a really deep question for you: What is “The Devil Came from Kansas” even about?
Yusuf: You know what? I’m frightened to ask [Procol Harum’s] Keith Reid, just in case it really disappoints me. But to me, I had a pretty bad trip in Kansas once, and I wrote a song about it called “18th Avenue (Kansas City Nightmare).”
Oldham: Oh, I love that song.
Yusuf: There is something to do with a devilish night that I had out there. So that song, “18th Avenue,” really does document very clearly what happened. I actually did run to the airport after coming off this terrible trip, and finally making it. And that was Gate 22 that I had to reach. So it’s all kind of really quite documented in that song.
Oldham: That’s great, because this week, in preparation for talking with you, I’ve been listening to the last few records, and just randomly pulled out [1972’s] Catch Bull at Four as the one old record that I was listening to, so it’s nice to hear that there’s this Kansas connection that draws a line between the two records.
Yusuf: Yeah. It’s not as if I hold any grudge to the people of Kansas, but it just seems to be a good place to talk badly about.
Hear “The Devil Came From Kansas” below.
Tell ‘Em I’m Gone is out 10/27 on Sony Legacy.