Cat Stevens’ songs have etched their way into the hearts of people around the world.
From the beginning of his career in the mid-1960s to today, his songs have stood the test of time. Multiple generations have been turned on to his music by their parents, who loved the songs.
We’ll dive into the best songs from Cat Stevens and find out why so many people cherish his music.
About Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens first became a known figure in the music scene at the age of 19. In 1967, his debut album and its title song, “Matthew and Son,” reached Top 10 status in the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, the following year, Stevens contracted a severe case of tuberculosis and was hospitalized for several months. This near-death experience caused him to begin a meditation and inner reflection practice.
Once recovered, Stevens jumped back into his music but also made some fundamental lifestyle changes. He began exploring various spiritual paths, eventually leading to him converting to Islam in 1977.
During this same time, his international success continued to climb with the release of nine more albums.
In 1978, after becoming fully immersed in the Islamic religion, he changed his name to Yusuf Islam. At the same time, he also decided to start a family, devote his life to charitable pursuits, and walk away from his music career.
Between 1978 and 2006, Yusuf established a charity and produced educational albums for children in the Muslim world. He also received awards for his humanitarian efforts.
His return to music in 2006 was greeted enthusiastically by fans around the world. As Yusuf, he released five more albums and performed concerts around the world.
In total, Cat Stevens, aka Yusuf Islam, has released 16 studio albums.
#7 The First Cut is the Deepest
About the Song: The lyrics are about lost first love and the pain of the loss. Stevens wrote the song in 1965, at the age of 17. It appears on his second studio album, New Masters, released in 1967.
Stevens sold the song before the release of New Masters to singer P. P. Arnold who turned it into a hit song in the UK. Rod Stewart and Sheryl Crow also recorded their own versions of the song.
Best Lyric: “I still want you by my side just to help me dry the tears that I’ve cried.”
First Appearance: Cat Stevens first performed the song live in October 1967, a few months before it appeared on New Masters.
#6 Peace Train
About the Song: Peace Train was written during the Vietnam War and is an anti-war anthem. It became Stevens’ first hit in the US, reaching No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
Stevens announced in a 1970’s concert that he wrote the song while on a train ride. The inspiration, he said, came from Alfred Hitchcock, who directed many films with plots set on trains.
Several well-known singers such as Dolly Parton and Richie Havens covered this Cat Stevens song.
Best Lyric: “Oh, I’ve been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one. And I believe it could be; someday it’s going to come.”
First Appearance: Peace Train appears on Stevens’ fifth album, Teaser and the Firecat.
#5 Wild World
About the Song: The lyrics are about the search for peace and happiness in a “wild world.” According to an interview Stevens did in 2009, “It’s talking about losing touch with home and reality – home especially.”
Wild World was one of many Cat Stevens songs written after his recovery from tuberculosis. It appears on his fourth album, Tea For the Tillerman.
More than 20 artists, including Maxi Priest, Bette Midler, and Garth Brooks, covered this song over the years.
Best Lyric: “But if you wanna leave, take good care. I hope you have a lot of nice things to wear. But then a lot of nice things turn bad out there.”
First Appearance: Reggae artist Jimmy Cliff recorded his version in 1970, three months before Stevens released his version.
#4 Another Saturday Night
About the Song: This song is about being in a new town but not having anyone special to be with on a Saturday night.
While many people associate this song with Cat Stevens, it is not one of his originals. Sam Cooke wrote the song in 1963 while on tour in England. He happened to be staying at a hotel where female guests weren’t allowed.
Best Lyric: “Another Saturday night, and I ain’t got nobody. I got some money ’cause I just got paid. How I wish I had someone to talk to. I’m in an awful way.”
First Appearance: Sam Cooke released the song in 1963 and recorded it for his 1964 album Ain’t That Good News.
#3 Father and Son
About the Song: One of Cat Stevens’ most famous songs, Father and Son, touches many parents’ hearts. It tells the story of a father having difficulty accepting his son’s desire to move away. And the son’s difficulty in expressing his need to break away from his family.
According to Stevens, the song isn’t autobiographical. While he said he never understood his father, Stevens could do what he wanted without being held back. Soon after the release of the song in 1970, Stevens said in an interview, “Father And Son is for those people who can’t break loose.”
Best Lyric: “I was once like you are now, and I know that it’s not easy. To be calm when you’ve found something going on.”
First Appearance: Father and Son made its debut on the 1970 album Tea For the Tillerman.
#2 Oh Very Young
About the Song: This song touches on questions asked of younger generations to their elders. Oh Very Young is an excellent example of Steven’s personal search for meaning and purpose in life.
Some have suggested that the line, “Denim blue, faded up to the sky,” references the death of singer Buddy Holly. Stevens has never confirmed if Holly’s death inspired any part of the song.
Best Lyric: “You’re only dancing on this earth for a short while.”
First Appearance: The song appeared in 1974 on Stevens’ eighth album Buddha and the Chocolate Box.
#1 Morning Has Broken
About the Song: Like Another Saturday Night, this is not one of the original Cat Stevens songs. However, he did make it an international hit song when he recorded it in 1971, 40 years after the original writing.
Most people only know the version Stevens recorded on his 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat. However, other artists such as Neil Diamond, Art Garfunkel, and Aaron Neville covered the song.
Best Lyric: “Mine is the sunlight, mine is the morning. Born of the One Light, Eden saw play.”
First Appearance: This is a Christian hymn first published in 1931. English author, Eleanor Farjeon, wrote the words.
Which Cat Stevens Song is Your Favorite?
Picking seven of the best Cat Stevens’ songs for this list wasn’t easy. But they do showcase the diversity within his catalog of music.
His songs are filled with tender, heartfelt lyrics that create emotional responses in the listener.
Take some time to listen to the songs on this list, and see which ones impact you the most.