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." (thanks, Ted - Victoria, Canada, for above 2)
When he appeared on The Chris Isaak Hour in 2009, Stevens said of this song: "I was on a holiday in Spain. I was a kid from the West End (of London) - bright lights, ect. - 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."
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. (thanks, Bob - The Colony, TX)
Stevens has in recent years called this song the "Optimist's anthem." (thanks, Mary - Little Rock, AR)
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. (thanks, christy - Southlake, TX)
Artists to record this song include LaBelle, Roger Whittaker and Mandy Moore.