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"Wild World" is a song written and recorded by English singer-songwriter Cat Stevens. It first appeared on his fourth album, Tea for the Tillerman, recorded and released in 1970.

"Wild World"
Single by Cat Stevens
from the album Tea for the Tillerman
  • "Miles from Nowhere" (USA)
  • "Sad Lisa" (Germany)
ReleasedSeptember 1970
Format7" 45 rpm
GenreFolk rock
LabelIsland (UK/Europe)
A&M (US/Canada)
Songwriter(s)Cat Stevens
Producer(s)Paul Samwell-Smith
Cat Stevens singles chronology
"Father and Son"
"Wild World"
Audio sample
"Wild World"


Song meaningEdit

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."[1]

Released as a single in late 1970, it peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[2] "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".[3]

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.[4][5][6] 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.[7]

This method has since been described as the Willis test.[8]

Cover versionsEdit

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.[9]

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.[10][11]

Chart historyEdit

Maxi Priest versionEdit

"Wild World"
Single by Maxi Priest
from the album Maxi
  • Atlantic
Producer(s)Robbie Shakespeare
Willie Lindo
Lowell "Sly" Dunbar
Maxi Priest singles chronology
"How Can We Ease The Pain?"
"Wild World"
"Goodbye to Love Again"
Music video
"Wild World" on YouTube

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.


Chart (1988) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[18] 8
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[19] 5
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[20] 11
Ireland (IRMA)[21] 5
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[22] 7
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[23] 7
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[24] 5
Norway (VG-lista)[25] 3
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[26] 17
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[27] 5
US Billboard Hot 100 25

Mr. Big versionEdit

"Wild World"
Single by Mr. Big
from the album Bump Ahead
GenrePop rock
  • Atlantic
Producer(s)Kevin Elson
Mr. Big singles chronology
"To Be with You"
"Wild World"
"Ain't Seen Love Like That"
Music video
"Wild World" on YouTube

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.

Critical receptionEdit

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."[28]

Music videoEdit

The music video for "Wild World" was directed by Nancy Bennett.[29]


Chart (1993) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[30] 7
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[31] 24
Canada (RPM)[32] 9
Denmark (IFPI)[33] 4
Europe (Eurochart Hot 100)[34] 19
France (SNEP)[35] 39
Germany (Official German Charts)[36] 24
Iceland (Íslenski Listinn Topp 40)[37] 13
Japan (Oricon) 56
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[38] 10
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[39] 11
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[40] 39
Norway (VG-lista)[41] 10
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[42] 10
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[43] 7
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 59
US Billboard Hot 100 27
US Billboard Top 40 Mainstream 33
US Billboard Mainstream Top 40 12

Notable coversEdit


  1. ^ "Wild World by Cat Stevens Songfacts".
  2. ^ Islam, Yusuf (2008). "Yusuf Islam Lifeline 1970". Yusuf Islam Official Website. Retrieved 2008-11-09.
  3. ^ Scoppa, Bud (May 24, 1971). "Easy Does It". Rock Magazine. Retrieved 2008-10-28.
  4. ^ Judy Berman, "10 Classic Rock Songs That Are Also Epic Mansplanations", Flavorwire, November 19, 2013.
  5. ^ "The Deconstruction of Popular Music: 'Wild World', by Cat Stevens, Literary Ramblings, May 01, 2013.
  6. ^ "Rob Sheffield's Worst Song of 2013: 'Blurred Lines'".
  7. ^ Ellen Willis, "But Now I'm Gonna Move," October 1971, page 135-139
  8. ^ Irin Carmon, "The Willis Test Is The New Bechdel Test", Jezebel, May 02, 2011.
  9. ^ Street-Porter, Jane (2 April 2005). "Editor-At-Large: He lured boys. He's a bully. Now he bleats". Independent.
  10. ^ "James Blunt covers Cat Stevens at Live Earth". Rolling Stone. 7 July 2007.
  11. ^ "International Report: Live Earth Hamburg". NME. 7 July 2007.
  12. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  13. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  14. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, April 17, 1971
  15. ^
  16. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  17. ^ Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1971
  18. ^ " – Maxi Priest – Wild World". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  19. ^ " – Maxi Priest – Wild World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  20. ^ "RPM (February 6, 1989)". RPM. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  21. ^ "Chart Track: Week 27, 1988". Irish Singles Chart.
  22. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Maxi Priest" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  23. ^ " – Maxi Priest – Wild World" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  24. ^ " – Maxi Priest – Wild World". Top 40 Singles.
  25. ^ " – Maxi Priest – Wild World". VG-lista.
  26. ^ " – Maxi Priest – Wild World". Singles Top 100.
  27. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  28. ^ Sholin, Dave. "Singles" (PDF). Gavin Report. Retrieved 2018-04-15.
  29. ^ "Wild World (1993) by Mr. Big". Retrieved 2018-10-18.
  30. ^ " – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  31. ^ " – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  32. ^ "RPM (Nov 27, 1993)". RPM. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  33. ^ "Top 10 Denmark" (PDF). Music & Media. 1994-01-08. Retrieved 2018-03-27.
  34. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 1994-01-08. Retrieved 2018-03-28.
  35. ^ " – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in French). Les classement single.
  36. ^ " – Mr. Big Single-Chartverfolgung" (in German). Media Control Charts. PhonoNet GmbH.
  37. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (30.09.1993 - 06.10.1993)" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir - Tónlist. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  38. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Mr. Big" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  39. ^ " – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  40. ^ " – Mr. Big – Wild World". Top 40 Singles.
  41. ^ " – Mr. Big – Wild World". VG-lista.
  42. ^ " – Mr. Big – Wild World". Singles Top 100.
  43. ^ " – Mr. Big – Wild World". Swiss Singles Chart.

External linksEdit