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Wild World

by

Cat Stevens



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

Stevens wrote this about searching for peace and happiness in a crazy world. There was some speculation that much of the song was a message to Patti D'Arbanville, an actress he had been dating. Stevens cleared this up when he spoke about the song on The Chris Isaak Hour in 2009. Said Stevens: "I was trying to relate to my life. I was at the point where it was beginning to happen and I was myself going into the world. I'd done my career before, and I was sort of warning myself to be careful this time around, because it was happening. It was not me writing about somebody specific, although other people may have informed the song, but it was more about me. It's talking about losing touch with home and reality - home especially."
This was a #8 UK hit for Jimmy Cliff 3 months before Stevens released his version. Cliff explained to Mojo magazine July 2012 that Stevens produced his cover. "I felt an affinity with Cat Stevens," he said. "They tried to market him as a rock act and like me, he was more than that and one day I went to the publisher and he played me this demo of 'Wild World' and he told me that Steve (Cat's real name) had written it but he didn't like it. I loved it right away so he called up Steve and put me on the phone to him. Steve asked what my key was, I said and he started playing guitar down the phone, He said we have to record it together so he went in and did the track and I went in the following day, helped put on the backing voices with Doris Troy and then it was time to put my voice on and Steve directed me to sing the high notes. He was a really good producer and it was a big hit."
Maxi Priest recorded this in 1988. His version hit #5 in the UK.
This was released as a single only in the US. Stevens' European label, Island Records, wanted to encourage people to buy the albums rather than the 45s.
This was one of the songs that convinced Stevens, now known as Yusuf Islam, to release a boxed set of his songs in 2001. He stopped making secular music in 1979, but came to realize that people find strength and inspiration in the songs he recorded as Cat Stevens.
This was Stevens' first song to chart in the US.
In an interview with Mojo magazine June 2009, the comment was made that lyrically this song has "an uninhibited simplicity." Stevens responded: "It was one of those chord sequences that's very common in Spanish music. I turned it around and came up with that theme- which is a recurring theme in my work- which is to do with leaving, the sadness of leaving, and the anticipation of what lies beyond. There is a criticism sometimes of my music, that it's kind of naïve, but then again that's exactly why people like it. It goes back to the pure childish approach of seeing things almost for the first time. A kid can say things like, 'Why is a cow?' You shouldn't put those words together! But if you do, then it makes you stop and think."
Stevens that this is, "a song about me."
Cat Stevens
Cat Stevens Artistfacts
More Cat Stevens songs
More songs that were hits for more than one artist

Comments (34):

"Wild World" song was about Patti Darbonville, she was 16 years old... Cat was 20. After a brief encounter he wrote a few songs about her, because he could not forget her after she left him. The girl was actually a wild girl as well.
- lisa, daytona, FL
Just like Janice from Folsom, CA, I sing this to my little girl too, on the Piano, and she loves it. Instead of "... if you're gonna leave, take good care ...", we sing "Olivia, take good care ..." instead, which is her name!!
- KAT, Adelaide, Australia
Taken from Original Rolling Stone 'Teaser and The Firecat' LP Review [December 9, 1971]: "Most of Cat's songs about women have a weird edge to them, a fact not lost on Women's Liberation. Ellen Willis, the rock critic of the New Yorker, thinks that " 'Wild World' betrays a condescending, sexist viewpoint." Reverse the roles, she says, and "It's hard to imagine a woman sadly warning her ex-lover that he's too innocent for the big bad world out there."
- DeeTheWriter, Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
How we lose everything to starting over again in life as we just begin.

Only the brave and knowing have the harness of knowledge.

If only we all could c it everywhere.

Smiles are faxsimiles of fax of our lives.
Beauty is knowing the difference.

Ty
- Kimberly, Landing, NJ
When it was written the wild was sex, drugs and rock n roll.......today it has a totally different angle.......
- Majid``, Karachi, Pakistan
i have insisted that my 2 beautiful good girls listen to this song --- i was blessed rich pgh
- richard, pittsburgh, PA
this song by cat stevens is one of my favorites. i love the lyrics to this song, and the music as well. makes you think. denise esposito
- denise, lakeland, FL
I like Mr. Big's version better if you've never heard before, it's worth checking out.
- paul, clio, MI
gahhh i love this song.
i first heard it in the movie "how to deal" which is also amazing but yeah...ahh. good song! evokes way too much catharsis. or im just wayyy too emotional haha. i love it!
- lolo brown, gertrude, Bahamas
As strange as it seems, there might be something to the Melanie Griffith connection -- Griffith dated Don Johnson at age 14 when this song was written. Don Johnson later had a child with D'Arbanville who was said to be the inspiration for the song.

I don't know what the connection is -- but the person who saw the Griffith interview was probably not crazy.
- Craig Murphy, Arlington, TX
Even if Jimmy Cliff released the song before,I have to say that this cover was'nt the best version of Wild world. Cat is the best!
- alexandre, MontrÃ?al, Canada
I love Cat, even though he was already Yusaf when I was born! I love this song, but I can't find the sheet music anywhere!
- Addison, Alberta, Canada
AS for Cat Stevens as an artist singer/songwriter....Terrific forever. Still think he's cool even though he has changed. Always liked this song and miss the old "Cat"
- pamela, el cajon, CA
At the time this song came out I fell in love with a guy and he said the Wild World song was me all over. I was kinda shy and country simple as he saw me.(originally from country area in Jersey) He was more sophisticated than I. Very hip and smoked a lot of weed. I never indulged I was "straight" all the time. So he had fun protecting me from the wild world for a while. It was sexy and fun to have this guy like me for just who I was at the time.
Pam,El Cajon,Ca
- pamela, el cajon, CA
an awesome song, but..the lyrics sound like something you would tell your lover, but more so, a daughter.
- Jorge, Codoba, South America
I was raised on Cat Stevens, and find comfort and inspiration in his music. When my 16 year old was little I use to sing Wild World to her every night going to bed, and now she loves Cat, too. I sing Moon Shadow to my two year old every night, so I assume she'll be a Cat fan as well.
- Janice, Folsom, CA
Although I now prefer Cat's version to Maxi Priests 1988 cover, if it hadn't been for Maxi's cover I'd never have discovered Cat Stevens...
- Dave, Cardiff, Wales
I heard this song a long time ago in the radio and i liked it. For a long time I didn't know who sang the song. Then I bought a album of Cat Stevens, named "Remember". And there it was the 4 track. A masterpiece.
- Peter, Mistelbach, Austria
I like the Cat version, not Mr. Big.
- Nessie, Sapporo, Japan
Jesse, David and Ivy...True, Melanie Griffith did turn 14 in 1971, however she married Don Johnson in 1972, before she turned 15 (In October of '72), so I guess she could very well have had a fling with an older guy. (Don was 8 years her senior.)
- Jenny, OC, CA
I like the Mr. big version. But Cat Steven's voice is awesome as usual. he's so laid back in his singing. seems like he's just singing in the room alone! I wish i can sing this to someone...
- Chetan, Bangalore, India
Jesse is right. Melanie Griffith turned 14 in 1971, so I doubt she was dating Cat Stevens.
- David, Lansing, MI
Ivy, we here at the songfacts community appreciate your interest in this song, but it is mathematically impossible for this song to be written about melanie griffith. I love her as much as the next person, but the song was written in 1971. Ms Griffith could not have been much more than a child in 1971
- jesse, chicago, IL
It's kinda ironic how this song was one of stevens' biggest hits in the u.s., and now the "wild world" is working against him, keeping him out of the u.s. it's quite curious.
- Natasha, Chico, CA
I always thought that he wrote this for maybe his daughter or sumthin, warning her about the world and stuff, and least that's what i told my dad to get him to write a song for me..lol
- Natasha, Chico, CA
We caught the man who wrote "Peace Train",yet we can't find aliens from other planets.
- Alex, New Orleans, LA
Cat Stevens, or "Yusuf Islam", rather, recently got taken off of a plane from London to Washington (only a few days ago, actually). Apparently he is on the United States' list of people who aren't allowed to ride U.S. planes because of his connections to Middle Eastern terrorists. Go figure.
- Billy, Pittsburgh, PA
Man, I miss the guy...
- Sam, Cleveland, OH
I saw an interview with Melanie Griffith and she told the host that Cat wrote this song about her. She said she had a brief fling w/him and he felt very protective towards her, warning her of the dangers of the world.
- Ivy, Los Angeles, CA
Cat Stevens was sweet and compassionate when he wrote this song. I still believe that he's the coolest Cat in the world! It seems like he was right when he said, It's a Wild World! When he said, a lot of nice things turn bad out there, he was right. There's murder, death, fights, wars, suicide attempts, and a lot of other wild and crazy stuff going on. I believe Cat Stevens wrote this song to promote peace and harmony! Same thing with when he wrote his song, "Peace Train"!
- Annabelle, Eugene, OR
I liked your reference to the crazy world. This song always reminds me of that passage in 'Alice in Wonderland' where the Chesire Cat is giving Alice directions to the Mad Hatter's Tea Party (& hence the title to the album). All that remains of the Cat when he disappears is his smile. Most people intrepret the message of the song very negatively "it's hard to get by just on a smile" but I think Stevens intented the message to be the opposite - its ONLY possible to get by on a smile.
- Glenn, Dunedin, New Zealand
What a trip to hit random and find one of my first albums...this album was a big favorite with the "hippie" set in the early seventies...oh why oh why, Greek boy?
- Lynn, Chicago, IL
Mr. Big had a semi-hit with this song in 1993
- Peter, Sydney, Australia
Cat Stevens wrote this song while breaking up with Patti D'Arbanville. She was also the inspiration for LADY D'ARBANVILLE. She later had a child with actor Don Johnson and appearred on the late 80's TV Show "Wiseguy".
- DC, Hilo, HI
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