Artist – Cat Stevens
Album – Buddha and the Chocolate Box
Year – 1974
Genre – Folk
Cat Stevens was one of the few folk singers that was constantly played in my household when I was young. It’s ironic that the first song I choose to review from him is a song that is a message to children and those young at heart.
“Oh very young, what will you leave us this time?”
“You’re only dancing on this Earth for a short while.”
Stevens’ lyrics in this song speak of the impermanence of life, and how we all have a chance to make an impression on others and the world, since life is very short. Everything in life eventually fades away, both the good and the bad. What matters is how you spend your time with those you care about and how you impact the world.
The song is very simply constructed, but simple is so much better in this case. It’s as if Stevens is making his plea with the simple means he has: his voice, his guitar, and a piano. There are some nice chorus parts and a drum part, but really those three things make the song what it is. Stevens’ voice is earnest and emotional, and the melody appeals to our own emotions as it dances around delicately. It’s melancholic, yet hopeful. I guess the word would be bittersweet, a lot like life.
The piano is the other piece of the musical puzzle in this song. It’s not flashy, but plays exactly the right notes at the right time. It complements, and never overshadows. I find myself humming the piano melody just as often as the vocal melody, so that’s a sign of good musical construction right there.
It’s almost hard not to get emotional when hearing a song like this, because it really digs deep at what makes us human and how hard it is to let things go. But there’s always hope as long as you “carry the words of love with you.” That’s the most important message the song imparts to us, I think.
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