- Album This song officially appears on the Roadsinger Official album.
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“Boots and Sand” is a song written and recorded by Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens). It appears as a bonus track on his album Roadsinger (To Warm You Through the Night) which was released on May 5, 2009. The song was also released as a double-A side single together with Roadsinger, on July 20, 2009.
“Boots and Sand” was written by Yusuf after he was denied entry to the US in 2004, and features guest appearances by both Paul McCartney and Dolly Parton.
The track was recorded in several different studios and countries during the summer of 2008, and mixed by Thomas Juth at Kensaltown Studios in London.
From the official website of Yusuf Islam, July 29th 2008
Yusuf invites Sir Paul McCartney to a recording session in London to sing on a new track entitled, “Boots & Sand”. The song is written by Yusuf about the “No-Fly List” saga when, together with his daughter, he was refused entry into the USA in 2004. Drawing on influences from Nashville and Liverpool-rock sounds, it also features Dolly Parton, Alison Krauss and Terry Sylvester. It promises to be a classic.
From Yusuf Islam’s past, present in harmony on new album | Reuters, April 20, 2009:
In 2004, Yusuf was flying to the United States to meet his longtime friend and collaborator Dolly Parton when the Department of Homeland Security’s no-fly list led to his being deported back to England. An official explanation was never given, but Yusuf released a statement saying that he was the victim of mistaken identity because of a misspelling on the list. (Yusuf since has been granted entry to the States numerous times without incident.)
A simple bureaucratic error, but in the post-9/11 era, one that still resonates. How is Yusuf dealing with it? By making fun of the situation. The song “Boots & Sand” was written after the incident and features Parton, Paul McCartney, Alison Krauss and Terry Sylvester portraying sheriffs and trading verses with Yusuf: Sheriffs: “Is your name this?” / Yusuf: “I guess it is.” / Sheriffs: “You’re on our ‘no song’ list.” / Yusuf: “Oh no, sir, no. This can’t be so!”
“It’s a slight oddity of a song,” Yusuf says. “The image I had was kind of a cowboy B movie made in Italy — but the story came from real events, real people.” It’s a way of cleverly defusing the memories of the situation for Yusuf and the pop culture-consuming public. His manager, Spero, says the song may be released as a bonus track on the U.S. version of “Roadsinger.”
Last updated on January 19, 2023
I was traveling, boots and sand
High bound for miracle land
Met a man called Buckingham
Said, "Joe, won't you join our band?"
Nickle jangled in the jukebox
Bird of Nashville sang (woo)
So we carried on a long, long road
To a place, where we've been told
All your records turn to gold
Birth land of rock 'n' roll
As we reached the border,
seven sheriffs arrived (seven sheriffs turned up)
Me and my girl are standing outside
(oh, who are you?)
Is your name this? - I guess it is
You're on our no-song list!
Oh no, sir, no, this can't be so
(Please let us go)
So they strung us to a friendly bird
Flew us back to the lower world
As we reached the morning light
Fame came overnight
It's a strange, strange thing
Whatever songs you had (whatever songs you write)
Some called good
some called bad
(- What kind of song is this? - I think it's a good one)
Now I'm back on the long long road
One bag, and a song I wrote
A little prayer in my hand
Just me, boots and sand
Paul McCartney has never played this song in concert.