Album: Teaser And The Firecat (1971)
Charted: 22 30
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  • Cat 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." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Ted - Victoria, Canada, for above 2
  • Stevens was gaining a foothold in America when he released "Moonshadow" as the first single from his fifth album, Teaser And The Firecat. He was already well established in his native UK, but America didn't discover him until "Wild World," from his fourth album, Tea For The Tillerman, landed in the spring of 1971. "Moonshadow" reached #30 that summer, but the next single, "Peace Train," rose to #7.

    Over the next few years, Stevens joined the ranks of thoughtful, somewhat mysterious singer-songwriters like Carly Simon and George Harrison to become one of the top players in the genre. His songs reflected his quest for understanding; around this time he was exploring Buddhism, but in 1977 he devoted himself to Islam, changing his name to Yusuf Islam. He stopped making pop music two years later.
  • When he appeared on The Chris Isaak Hour in 2009, Yusuf talked about writing this song. "I was on a holiday in Spain," he said. "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."
  • When he became a Muslim, Yusuf distanced himself from his work as Cat Stevens, but in the '90s he began to revisit those songs through performances and re-issues. "Moonshadow" he cites as his favorite Cat Stevens song, and says it's one that convinced him to embrace much of his previous work. The uplifting message in the song meshes with his religious beliefs and with his humanitarian efforts, as many have found hope and encouragement in "Moonshadow." He called the song the "optimist's anthem."
  • Stevens commissioned a short animated film to accompany this song that's based on the Teaser And The Firecat album cover illustration, which he drew. In the film, Teaser and The Firecat come to life as the boy and cat ride on the moon while "Moonshadow" plays. Narrated by the British radio personality Spike Milligan, it was shown in movie theaters before feature films and in 2004 appeared on the Cat Stevens - Majikat DVD. The whimsical phantasmagoria owes a debt to the Beatles' Yellow Submarine film.
  • Director John Landis wanted to use this song in his 1981 horror comedy An American Werewolf in London, which features 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. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bob - The Colony, TX
  • Artists to record this song include LaBelle, Roger Whittaker and Mandy Moore.
  • "Moonshadow" was used in two 2018 episodes of the TV series This Is Us: "Nine Bucks" and "The Wedding."

Comments: 37

  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenHarvey, I was in Salem, Oregon to see the eclipse and this song was running through my head the entire day. What an amazing couple of minutes, though. Since I didn't get to see the 1979 eclipse in totality, I had waited 38 years to see it.
  • Karen from NhLaughing at the 5 different theories of this song. I love it, always have. What girl sounds like Mandy Moore, Sarah? Cat is a man...
    Hate it or love it music has changed so much!
  • Harvey Wachtel from Kew Gardens, NyAfter seeing the Great American Eclipse of 2017, I couldn't help thinking of this song and about how the shadow of the moon used to frighten people before we understood what it was. The moonshadow may follow and overtake us, but then it passes on into outer space and leaves us in the sunlight again.
  • Sarah from Tyler, TxMy parents loved this song so much that they gave "Moonshadow" to me as a middle name ~ growing up it was embarrassing, and I got teased a lot as the '80's & '90's poked fun at the "Hippy" generation we were born into... but now I see the beauty in the meaning of the song and I really appreciate the thought that went into giving me the name.
  • Esskayess from Dallas, TxI went to the dentist sometime later and this song came on the Muzak system while he was giving me a filling. He started laughing when 'all my teeth, north and south' played, but I didn't exactly find it funny at the time. Did later.
  • Deethewriter from Saint Petersburg, Russia FederationTaken from Original Rolling Stone 'Teaser and The Firecat' LP Review [December 9, 1971]: "Cat Stevens to a Boston DJ -"I get the tune and then I just keep on singing the tune until the words come out from the tune. It's kind of a hypnotic state that you reach after a while when you keep on playing it where words just evolve from it. So you take those words and just let them go whichever way they want.... "Moonshadow"? Funny, that was in Spain, I went there alone, completely alone, to get away from a few things. And I was dancin' on the rocks there ... right on the rocks where the waves were like blowin' and splashin'. Really, it was so fantastic. And the moon was bright, ya know, and I started dancin' and singin' and I sang that song and it stayed. It's just the kind of moment that you want to find when you're writin' songs."

  • Janetlee from Panama City, FlI don't care how anyone interprets this song. I just love it for what it is-BEAUTIFUL!
  • Richard from Doncaster, United KingdomThis is perhaps one of the greatest pieces of music ever written. All religion and politics to one side, still a brilliant composition and absolutely fabulous to sing along to !!!
  • Kay from Searcy, ArOld enough to remember when this song was released, the story at the time was that Cat Stevens wrote this song while recovering from tuberculosis. The "moonshadow" is death or loss. I have all of his albums (and I mean ALL, even the early recordings from the UK). I miss the power his songs had early on. Nothing to compare him to today.
  • Peter from Melbourne, AustraliaCat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam is a student of Sufism, a mystical practice of Islam. I know Yusuf has been leaning in the Sufi direction from the Rumi quotation in the liner notes on his recent album "An other Cup".

    I believethe "Moonshadow" was inspired by the story of a 9th Century Sufi Master called Hallaj.

    Hallaj was a famous Sufi Martyr of the 9th Century who was executed for saying "I am the Truth."
    His enemies interpreted these words as a declaration stating "I am God" and he was executed for heresy.

    My understanding was in the late 60's early '70's Cat/Yusuf wasn't familiar with Sufism or Islam.

    Songwriters sometimes say they are channelled or inspired by God.

    My reasons for this interpretation of the song are that

    The lyrics of Moonshadow read:

    "...If I ever lose my mouth

    ...If I ever lose my hands

    ...If I ever lose my legs

    ...If I ever lose my eyes."

    Hallaj suffered torture and had his arms, legs, and tongue amputated and his eyes torn out prior to his final agonising death.

    There seems to be an element of synchronicity here.

    He, like Cat/Yusuf, always saw the positive despite losing all his physical faculties. The "light" he refers to is the Divine light or God.

    Peter Russo, Melbourne Australia
  • Sarah from Milwaukee, WiThis is the dumbest song I have ever heard. I heard it at work and it's on our cd. Me and my manager were making fun of it. Sorry, but it just sounds corny. This girl sounds a lot like Mandy Moore, though.
  • Rick from Lagrange, NyI had heard from a VietNam veteran, long ago, that a Moonshadow was a reference to a night outpost, or ambush. Don't know if CS had that in mind when he wrote the song, but the lyrics certainly are telling.
  • Heather from Los Angeles, CaI heard this song first when I was a little kid in the early 1970s, Portland, Oregon. Everytime I hear it it takes me back there. Such a good place.
  • Floria from Us, ScI can't imagine how you came up with the meaning of "MS" to be attributed to the song. I would think if he sang about any disease it would be about TB, since he suffered from that as a teen and almost died.
  • Kitty from Pullman, WaThe person that most captivates my life has suffered a head injury. Someone told me this is his favorite song. I added verses - what do you think?

    Oh, I'm being followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
    Leapin? and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow.

    And if I ever lose myself, lose my job, lose my wealth,
    Oh if I ever lose myself, ahwayayaee?my life begins once more.
    And if I ever lose my pride, lose my splendor, or my stride,
    Oh if I ever lose my pride, ahwayayaee?my life will be worth more.

    And if I ever lose my love, lose my longed for turtledove,
    Oh if I ever lose my love, eyes will look above.
    And if I every lose my God, lose my faith in what He?s wrought,
    Oh if I ever lose my God, ahwayayaee...I?ll find I?m in His thoughts.

    Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful Light.
    Did it take long to find me? And are You gonna make things right?

    Oh, I'm being followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
    Leapin' and hoppin' on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow.

    Moonshadow, moonshadow.

    Moonshadow, moonshadow.

    Jesus loves you ever so much, Steve.

    He?s going to make things right.
  • Janice from Hillsboro, OrI just had all his albums back when he was almost the most popular singer around. They were
    all on the 33 1/3 and on the 8 track tapes. I lost a lot of my stuff in a move, and they were all in it..I have been so sad ever since..those were wonderful..even the covers were wonderful pieces of art/
  • Rogério from Curitiba, BrazilThis music seems to be based on songs that the slaves used to sing while they were working... the themes "plough", "work", "land", and so on, describble a working man waiting for a better life...
    The word: "moonshadow" is always a bad luck sign... or a difficult moment in the life of somebody.
  • Maria from Methuen, Mai have to add my two cents. i was young when cat stevens was very popular, and loved him. read all about him, went to see him in concert. it was my understanding that moonshadows was a combination of his two fears, one, he was afraid of aliens, and that is part of the song (did it take long to find me i ask the faithful light) he also, i thought had TB and that is where all the physical stuff from the song came, losing my teeth, my eyes, etc
  • Heathy from Cupar, ScotlandI this its about a stalker who he ends up shagging. "leaping and hoping on a moon shadow" moonshadow meaning stalker, leaping and hoping meaning sex. i like how it is upbeat, yet depressing. the only song like it, oh yeah.
    heather and jean, scotland
  • Robert from D.c, Dc1st off MS is Multiple Schlorosis (sp is off I know) MS is not Muscular Dystrophy and neither has anything to do with the song.
    It is about a Moon Shadow, if you dont know what one is brush up on European folklore, they are YOUR shadow which comes alive under the full moon and causes wicked mischief according to legend. The moon shadow was known to steal your eyes or mouth or legs and leave you crippled or in some cases kill its "owner"

    Seriously how did we get drugs, Unification movement, and such. It always irks me when psudeo intellectuals post "facts" which are nothing of the sort, and they try to pass them off as comming from some type of authoritive source, that they didnt come from.
  • Peter from London Now Liverpool, EnglandYears ago, Brentford (an English soccer teams fans) had this song as their anthem. I was quite proud that we ruffians should have such a pretty and philosophical song. I am still a Bees follower but I was saddenned when I asked why we stopped singing this song in favour of some, frankly, unpleasant ones and the reason given was Cat's adoption of Islam. This song is a great celebration of the greatness of life itself and soars above human fears and vanity. Viva life.
  • Dorielle from Albuquerque, NmCat Stevens wrote that song during the time when the Unificationist movement was at its birth and it's followers known derogatorily as the Moonies (for following Reverend Sun Myung Moon) were thriving with the inspirational, invinciable vibe of the 70s. One of his friends had joined the moonies and was trying to witness to him. Think about it. The Unificationists left their dreams, lives, and families behind for a vision of world peace that made sense to them. It didn't matter if they left things behind or lost everything, they were too optomistic about the future to care about losing things. My mom and dad were followers of the movement and my mom almost died when she was hit by a car one night while she was fundraising for the Unificationists. To this day, she has never blamed anyone for the loss of the full capacity of her body because there was always something brighter to think about. Cat Stevens recognized this devotion and how it could ultimately save a person's life just to believe in something. Maybe that's why he's now Yusuf Islam.
  • Keith from Cincinnati, OhWhat is a moonshadow? It is a shadow cast by the moon's light, meaning that the moon is shining upon that person. Its Light is that of the Mother,
    says Plutarch,making all things moist and pregnant, promotive of the generation of living things.One can give one's soul to a deity by dedicating one's shadow to him. The moon gives ecstatic revelation. Its effects are reason/wisdom. Therefore we have a man who is strong, wise, and happy because filled with creative power.
  • Phill from Oakland, CaGreat post, Janice. A perfect example of the timelessness, power, and beauty of music. Such a pretty song too, especially the quick little guitar riff after every time he says "moonshadow, moonshadow."
  • Janice from Folsom, CaI sing this song to my 2 year old every night- she loves it. I think that (to me) the song is reflecting on how there is always light to be found inthe darkest situations. "If I ever lose my eyes, then I won't have to cry any more..." If you are being followed by a moon shadow, then there must be light on you, even in the darkest hour of the night.
  • Ihor Kutash from Montreal, CanadaTheological reflection: The Moon is a lovely symbol of Jesus. She shines with the light of the Sun, as He shines with the glory of the Father. You can look at the Moon and feel good about its light. You can feel good about the Sun's light but you can not look at it without burning your retina. Jesus shines on us all. His light casts the Moonshadow. I am always being followed by the Moonshadow whether or not I know it. Marvelous reason for optimism!
  • Dennis from Chicagoland Burrows, IlAlso covered by T & A (Tori Amos) on her Original Sinsuality Tour.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiaah yes the Moonshadow what does it mean... surprised no ones come up with some sort of drug reference...for me it deals with the plight of confusion in our souls , "leaping and hopping "
    as in where to next..... "i've been followed by a Moonshadow" as in delusion, angst, regret about a life that could have been better.... then agian who am i to say...peace Brothers and Sisters
  • Jim from Kansas City, MoI remember reading an interview with Cat Stevens where he said he wrote the song standing on a big flat rock by the sea, with the moon casting his shadow on the rock behind him. He described it as one of those perfect songwriting moments, where you can't help but write a good one. The idea that "Moonshadow" means muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, or anything other than what's actually in the song (the moon, a shadow, optimism) seems completely fatuous to me.
  • Nora from Phoenix, Azi used to sing this song on full moon nights
    on hayrides, or walking in the desert
    for me, the moon was my companion and friend
    a light in lonely times
  • Tom from Norwalk, Ctim being followed by a moon shadow moOOOOOOOOOOOn shadow moon shadow
  • Angie from Twin Cities, MnThis song was covered by Mandy Moore recently in her CD Coverage. Great cover by her. One of my favorite songs.
  • Lauren from Maryville, MoHalley, muscular dystrophy isn't MS. MS is multiple sclerosis, a different disease. In muscular dystrophy, there is a progressive wasting of muscles. In MS, the nerves lose their mylein sheath (or fatty outer coating), and nerve impulses "short-circuit" for lack of a better description.
  • Daniel from Perth, AkMuscular Distrophy, This sounds right, but its for your own interpretation only Stevens knows what he was on about...
  • Annabelle from Eugene, OrWhen I first heard this song, this is what I thought. I thought that being followed by a moon shadow meant being followed by the shadow of the moonlight.
  • Halley from Woodinville, WaActually, this song is about the disease muscular dystrophy. The M in moon and the S in shadow stand for what this disease is commonly known as "MS". Muscular dystrophy is a progressive wasting of muscle tissue, hence the lyrics about loosing parts of the body. It is a song about hope, but on more specific a basis.
  • Richard from San Jose, CaFor me, I interpret the moonshadow to be an individual's fate.
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