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Father and Son
Song

Father and Son

Yusuf Islam Cat Stevens
Album:
Tea for the Tillerman

Song Meaning of Father and Son by Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam, and what it is about


"Father and Son" is a song written and performed by British singer-songwriter Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) on his 1970 album Tea for the Tillerman.


The song frames a heartbreaking exchange between a father not understanding a son's desire to break away and shape a new life, and the son who cannot really explain himself but knows that it is time for him to seek his own destiny.


Stevens sings in a deeper register for the father's lines, while using a higher one for those of the son.

Cat Stevens originally wrote "Father and Son" as part of a proposed musical project starring Nigel Hawthorne, called Revolussia, that was set during the Russian Revolution, and could also have become a film.


The song was about a boy who wanted to join the revolution against the wishes of his conservative farmer father.


The musical project faded away when Stevens contracted tuberculosis in 1969.


He was close to death at the time of his admittance to the King Edward VII Hospital in Midhurst, West Sussex.


After a year-long period of convalescence in the hospital and a collapsed lung, the project was shelved, but "Father and Son" remained, now in a broader context that reflected not just the societal conflict of Stevens' time, but also captured the impulses of older and younger generations in general.


"Father and Son" received substantial airplay on progressive rock and album-oriented rock radio formats, and played a key role in establishing Stevens as a new voice worthy of attention.


In 1970 it was only put on the B-side of Stevens' single "Moon Shadow".

Interviewed soon after the release of "Father and Son", Stevens was asked if the song was autobiographical.


Responding to the interviewer from Disc, he said, "I've never really understood my father, but he always let me do whatever I wanted—he let me go. 'Father And Son' is for those people who can't break loose."

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Stevens has said he is aware that "Father and Son" and several other songs mean a great deal to a large number of fans.


"Some people think that I was taking the son's side," he explained. "But how could I have sung the father's side if I couldn't have understood it, too?


I was listening to that song recently and I heard one line and realized that that was my father's father's father's father's father's father's father's father speaking."


Lyrics of Father and Son by Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam


[Father:]

It's not time to make a change

Just relax, take it easy

You're still young, that's your fault

There's so much you have to know

Find a girl, settle down

If you want you can marry

Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy

 

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

But take your time, think a lot

Why, think of everything you've got

For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not

 

[Son:]

How can I try to explain, cause when I do he turns away again

It's always been the same, same old story

From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen

Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away

I know I have to go

 

[Father:]

It's not time to make a change

(Away, away, away)

Just sit down, take it slowly

You're still young, that's your fault

(I know)

There's so much you have to go through

(I have to make this decision)

Find a girl, settle down

(Alone)

If you want you can marry

Look at me, (No) I am old, but I'm happy

 

[Son:]

All the times that I cried

(Decision, decision, decision)

Keeping all the things I knew inside

It's hard (Why must)

But it's harder to ignore it

(You go and make this decision)

If they were right, I'd agree

(Alone?)

But it's them they know not me

Now there's a way and I know

That I have to go away

I know I have to go

Release Date

1970

Songwriter/s

Cat Stevens

Producer/s

Paul Samwell-Smith

Label/s

Island, A&M

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