Wild World (song)
|Single by Cat Stevens|
|from the album Tea for the Tillerman|
|Format||7" 45 rpm|
|Label||Island (UK/Europe) |
|Cat Stevens singles chronology|
Stevens, who is now known as Yusuf Islam, developed a relationship with actress Patti D'Arbanville and the two were a pair throughout a period of two years or so. During that time, he wrote several songs about her, including "Wild World".
The song is in the form of the singer's words to his departing lover, inspired by the end of their romance. Stevens later recalled to Mojo: "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."
Released as a single in late 1970, it peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. "Wild World" has been credited as the song that gave Stevens' next album, Tea for the Tillerman, "enough kick" to get it played on FM radio; and Island Records' Chris Blackwell called it "the best album we've ever released".
In November 2008, the Tea for the Tillerman CD was re-issued in a deluxe version which included the original demo of "Wild World".
Some critics and music writers have deemed "Wild World" to be condescending and misogynistic. In her 1971 essay "But Now I'm Gonna Move," critic Ellen Willis described a method of revealing male bias in lyrics in which the listener imagines the genders reversed:
By this test, a diatribe like 'Under My Thumb' is not nearly so sexist in its implications as, for example, Cat Stevens's gentle, sympathetic 'Wild World'; Jagger's fantasy of sweet revenge could easily be female—in fact, it has a female counterpart, Nancy Sinatra's 'Boots' — but it's hard to imagine a woman sadly warning her ex-lover that he's too innocent for the big bad world out there.
This method has since been described as the Willis test.
The song has been covered by many artists, with many of the covers becoming hits of their own. Jimmy Cliff's version, released a few months after Stevens released the original version, reached No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart. Surprisingly, Stevens' version was not released as a single in the UK. Some of the subsequent covers have also been in the reggae style, indicating that they may be covers of Cliff's version, as opposed to direct covers of Cat Stevens' original arrangement. An example of this would be Maxi Priest's version of the song. Recorded and released as a single in 1988, this version also did well on the charts, reaching No. 5 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 25 on the US Billboard Hot 100.
In 1987, Jonathan King accused Pet Shop Boys of plagiarising the melody of "Wild World" for their UK No. 1 single "It's a Sin". He made the claims in The Sun, for which he wrote a regular column during the 1980s. King also released his own cover version of "Wild World" as a single, using a similar musical arrangement to "It's a Sin", in an effort to demonstrate his claims. This single flopped, while Pet Shop Boys sued King, eventually winning out-of-court damages, which they donated to charity.
On July 7, 2007, the song was performed twice at the Live Earth concerts. James Blunt sang it at Wembley Stadium in London, England, while Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) himself sang it in Hamburg, Germany.
Maxi Priest versionEdit
|Single by Maxi Priest|
|from the album Maxi|
Lowell "Sly" Dunbar
|Maxi Priest singles chronology|
In 1988, English reggae vocalist Maxi Priest recorded a cover of the song, which was released as the third single from his album, Maxi. The single charted at No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 33 on the Top 40 Mainstream and No. 12 on the Mainstream Top 40. In Europe it was very successful, peaking at No. 3 in Norway, No. 5 in Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, and the UK, No. 7 in the Netherlands, and No. 8 in Australia.
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||5|
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)||11|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||7|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||7|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||5|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||5|
|US Billboard Hot 100||25|
Mr. Big versionEdit
|Single by Mr. Big|
|from the album Bump Ahead|
|Mr. Big singles chronology|
In 1993, American rock band Mr. Big released a cover of "Wild World" on their third album Bump Ahead. The single charted at No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 33 on the Top 40 Mainstream and No. 12 on the Mainstream Top 40. In Europe, it was very successful, peaking at No. 4 in Denmark, No. 7 in Austria and Switzerland, at No. 10 in Norway, Sweden and Netherlands and No. 13 in Iceland.
The Gavin Report wrote about the song: "How many ways can a song be interpreted? In the case of Cat Stevens' 1971 smash there are at least three: The Catman's original, Maxi Priest, who gave it a reggae spin, and now Mr. Big's soulful, sensitive approach with a slight rock edge. Lead singer Eric Martin is powerful without overpowering the song."
The music video for "Wild World" was directed by Nancy Bennett.
|Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)||7|
|Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)||24|
|Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)||19|
|Germany (Official German Charts)||24|
|Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)||13|
|Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)||10|
|Netherlands (Single Top 100)||11|
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)||39|
|Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)||7|
|UK Singles (Official Charts Company)||59|
|US Billboard Hot 100||27|
|US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream||33|
|US Billboard Mainstream Top 40||12|
- 1970: Jimmy Cliff
- 1971: Claude François (Fleur sauvage)
- 1971: Barry Ryan
- 1971: Bette Midler
- 1971: José Feliciano
- 1971: The Ventures
- 1971: Franck Pourcel (Instrumental version)
- 1971: Sacha Distel
- 1987: Jonathan King
- 1989: SNFU
- 1994: Wise Guys
- 2000: Pepê & Neném
- 2001: Me First and the Gimme Gimmes
- 2003: Skye Sweetnam (Billy S. - B-side)
- 2004: John Waite
- 2007: Skins cast. Lead by Mike Bailey
- 2007: James Blunt
- 2008: Blue Lagoon
- 2010: Ronan Keating (feat. Marvin Priest)
- 2012: Andy Allo
- 2013: Garth Brooks
- 2017: Bastille (feat. Kianja)
- 2018: Marion Raven (Live version for her acoustic tour in Norway)
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- Ellen Willis, "But Now I'm Gonna Move," October 1971, page 135-139
- Irin Carmon, "The Willis Test Is The New Bechdel Test", Jezebel, May 02, 2011.
- Street-Porter, Jane (2 April 2005). "Editor-At-Large: He lured boys. He's a bully. Now he bleats". Independent.
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