Cat Stevens – Moonshadow

I bought Teaser and the Firecat because I enjoyed Steven’s album Tea For The Tillerman so much. I wasn’t disappointed…this was the first song I connected with on the album.

The song peaked at #30 in the Billboard 100 in 1971. The album peaked at #2 the same year.

Cat Stevens on the song: ” “I was on a holiday in Spain. I was a kid from the West End (of London) – bright lights, et cetera. I never got to see the moon on its own in the dark, there were always streetlamps. So there I was on the edge of the water on a beautiful night with the moon glowing, and suddenly I looked down and saw my shadow. I thought that was so cool, I’d never seen it before.”

He wrote part of the story of an animated short film that featured this very song. It was shown at the Fantastic Animation Festival in 1977. It begins with a still of the two characters from the “Teaser and the Firecat” album cover who then come to life.

 

From Songfacts

Stevens wrote this about finding hope in any situation. Be present and joyful. See life as it is, right now, and don’t compare it to others’ lives, or other times in your life. Every moment in life is rich and unique; whether we are aware of it or not, we are always leaping and hopping on a moonshadow – the inescapable present moment. If we are wrapped up in our whirlpools of worry and concern about what could be, or what has been, we are missing the richness of life as it is.

In the bridge of the song, Stevens seems to be speaking of faith, indicating clearly that, although he is experiencing this ecstasy in the present, despite all the losses and suffering of existence, it is the light that has found him, and not the other way around. He is surrendering to a power greater than himself – the “faithful light.” 

Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, considers this his favorite of his old songs. It’s one of the songs that convinced him to release a Greatest Hits record of his work as Cat Stevens. He felt its uplifting message could help people.

Director John Landis wanted to use this song in his 1981 horror comedy An American Werewolf in London. The film featured a number of songs with “moon” in the title (“Moon Dance”, “Blue Moon”, etc.) but Stevens, who had recently converted to Islam, refused permission because he did not like the subject matter of the film. 

Stevens has in recent years called this song the “Optimist’s anthem.” 

This song was used for a “Teaser And The Firecat” animation. The cover of the album came to life as the boy and cat ride on the moon while this song plays. It can be found on the Cat Stevens – Majikat (Earth Tour 1976) DVD. 

Artists to record this song include LaBelle, Roger Whittaker and Mandy Moore.

Moonshadow

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land
Oh if I ever lose my hands, Oh if I won’t have to work no more

And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry
Yes if I ever lose my eyes, Oh if I won’t have to cry no more

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moon shadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

And if I ever lose my legs, I won’t moan, and I won’t beg
Yes if I ever lose my legs, Oh if I won’t have to walk no more

And if I ever lose my mouth, all my teeth, north and south
Yes if I ever lose my mouth, Oh if I won’t have to talk

Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light
Did it take long to find me? And are you gonna stay the night

Moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

Cat Stevens – Morning Has Broken

Morning Has Broken is a beautiful piece of music.

Stevens got the lyrics from a hymn book he found at a bookstore while looking for song ideas. It was a children’s hymn by Eleanor Farjeon, who also wrote a lot of children’s poetry.

Cat Stevens: “I accidentally fell upon the song when I was going through a slightly dry period and I needed another song or two for Teaser And The Firecat. I came across this hymn book, found this one song, and thought, This is good. I put the chords to it and then it started becoming associated with me.”

The song peaked at #6 on the Billboard 100, #9 in the UK, #3 in New  Zealand and #4 in Canada. It was on the album Teaser and the Firecat which peaked at #2 on the Billboard Album Charts in 1972.

From Songfacts

Children in England would have heard Farjeon’s hymn in primary school. Scottish children sang the old Gaelic hymn, “Child in a manger, Infant of Mary” to this tune. This hymn predated “Morning” and was written in Gaelic by Mary MacDonald before being translated into English. For Scottish children it was a Christmas hymn. >>

Rick Wakeman, who later became a member of Yes, played keyboards on this track. He claims he was never paid for his work.

This was Stevens’ first single that did better in America than in England. “Peace Train” and “Wild World” were not released in the US.

This song is set to a Scottish tune entitled “Bunessan,” a melody that was named for a small island town in Scotland. >>

Neil Diamond recorded this in 1992 for his Christmas album (yes, Diamond is Jewish). His version went to #36 in the UK.

Morning Has Broken

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight
Mine is the morning
Born of the one light Eden saw play
Praise with elation, praise ev’ry morning
God’s recreation of the new day

Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing
Praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Rod Stewart – The First Cut Is The Deepest

Rod Stewart has covered many songs in his career. I’ve always liked this version of the song. It was written by Cat Stevens in 1967. The song peaked at #21 in the Billboard 100, #11 in Canada, and #1 in the UK in 1977. Stewart recorded the song at Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Sheffield, Alabama, United States, and it appeared on his 1976 album A Night on the Town. It was released as a double A-side single with “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”.

Rod Stewart had a total of 52 songs in the Billboard 100, 16 top 10 hits, and 4 number 1’s.

From Songfacts

This was written by Cat Stevens. It was a hit for P.P. Arnold in Britain in 1967, reaching #18 in the charts. Stevens, who included it on his debut album New Masters later in 1967, never released his version as a single, as he felt Arnold’s rendition was definitive.

P.P. Arnold is a female singer from America who got her start as one of Ike & Tina Turner’s backup performers (an Ikette). After two years with Ike & Tina, she moved to London and got a record deal with Immediate Records. Cat Stevens was also part of the London music scene at the time, and his song found it’s way to Arnold, who recorded it for her first album.

Arnold, who was in an abusive marriage as a teenager, felt it was a perfect song for her. “It encapsulated everything that I was at the time,” she said. “Having the courage to get out of that [abusive relationship] and create a life for me and my kids. What a blessing.”

In 1968, Arnold scored another UK hit when her cover of “Angel of the Morning” went to #29.

This is about a guy who has met a girl he wants to start a relationship with. In the song, he is explaining the hurt he feels because of his first love, and how it is keeping him from diving into this potential new relationship.

In America, the first version to chart was by Keith Hampshire, who took it to #70 in 1973. Rod Stewart covered it in 1976, taking it to #21 US and #1 UK; Sheryl Crow released her version in 2003, which made #14 in the US and #37 in the UK.

The First Cut is the Deepest

I would have given you all of my heart
But there’s someone who’s torn it apart
And she’s taken just all that I had
But if you want I’ll try to love again
Baby I’ll try to love again but I know

The first cut is the deepest
Baby I know the first cut is the deepest
But when it come to being lucky she’s cursed
When it come to loving me she’s the worst
I still want you by my side
Just to help me dry the tears that I’ve cried
And I’m sure going to give you a try
And if you want I’ll try to love again
Baby I’ll try to love again but I know

The first cut is the deepest
Baby I know the first cut is the deepest
But when it come to being lucky she’s cursed
When it come to loving me she’s the worst

I still want you by my side
Just to help me dry the tears that I’ve cried
But I’m sure gonna give you a try
‘Cause if you want I’ll try to love again
Baby I’ll try to love again but I know

Wooh
The first cut is the deepest
Baby I know the first cut is the deepest
When it come to being lucky she’s cursed
When it come to loving me she’s the worst

Cat Stevens – If You Want to Sing Out

This is the ultimate optimistic song about following your own path.

I first heard this song off the dark comedy 1971 “Harold and Maude” where it was featured. Stevens wrote and performed all of the songs for the movie after being recommended by Elton John. There was no soundtrack or singles released at the time.

This song did not chart which really surprises me. It’s has been used in a few commercials.

The song was finally released in 1984 on a Cat Stevens Greatest Hits album called “Footsteps in the Dark: Greatest Hits, Vol. 2.”

The soundtrack for Harold and Maude wasn’t released until 2007.

 

 

“If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out”

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
‘Cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are

And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go
You know that there are

[Chorus:]
You can do what you want
The opportunity’s on
And if you can find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo
you see ah ah ah
its easy ah ah ah
You only need to know

Well if you want to say yes, say yes
And if you want to say no, say no
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go
You know that there are

And if you want to be me, be me
And if you want to be you, be you
‘Cause there’s a million things to do
You know that there are

[Chorus]

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
‘Cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are
You know that there are