Peace Be With You

John Lennon said, “Give Peace a Chance”, which is a great song and I hope that someone covers this, however I wanted a bigger challenge.  I may get a lot of criticism for my choice today, but I am going with Cat Stevens, a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and philanthropist, who has since changed his name to Yusuf Islam.  His 1970 single ‘Wild World’ made him a star.  Stevens made his folk music debut in 1964 and he sold a hit song, ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’ for $40.  Some of his other hits include ‘Moon Shadow’ and ‘Peace Train’, which I am covering here.  Stevens had a near death experience almost drowning, which made him convert to Islam in 1977.

Peace Train is on the 1971 album Teaser and the Firecat and the song is about everyone coming together in a peaceful effort.  Peace Train was Stevens’ first US Top-10 hit and it ended every show that he did to bring down the house.  This became a hippie anthem, and it was often used by protesters to spread a message of peace.  This song is interesting, in perspective as it is a cry for peace and understanding and a plea to stop all the hating, but it seems like Yusuf Islam has become a hater, because of some Muslim thing between him and Salmon Rushdie for defaming the Prophet in his book The Satanic Verses.  Peace will only be obtained if all humans can develop a common, global bond, that exists regardless of creed, color, sex, religion, social status, or national heritage.  We all face the same inner search for peace and the same inner obstacles to finding it and recognizing it when it is found.  Humans have the ability to shape to the world into whatever we want, but peace will only be possible if we start raising our children properly and teaching them how to love.

In 1971, I had just turned 18 and I had to register for the draft, as this was a tumultuous time in American history.  The very unpopular Vietnam War was still grinding on, and McGovern was running against Nixon for the presidency.  When ‘Peace Train’ made it into the many homes of a country beset in never-ending turmoil, a British-born activist was ready to speak to the American audience about ending social unrest and the ever-important need for change.  Cat Stevens was saying, ENOUGH!, and his message was pure and clear.

Peace Train is a fun song that begins quietly with simple musically arranged acoustic riffs.  The harmony takes off, with urgent vocals, hand-clapping and a bass drum pedal and then there is no turning back as the song turns electrifying and rides towards peace.  Peace Train leaves a message that we need to get peace moving in a positive and productive direction.  Stevens makes a demand on the people to get motivated, so that they can make this important change and there is no rest for the wicked, as the song comes to an end.  Stevens thought that peace would only come after the darkness and sadness of fighting ended.

Now I’ve been happy lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun
Oh I’ve been smiling lately, dreaming about the world as one
And I believe it could be, some day it’s going to come
Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again
Now I’ve been smiling lately, thinking about the good things to come
And I believe it could be, something good has begun
Oh peace train sounding louder
Glide on the peace train
Come on now peace train
Yes, peace train holy roller
Everyone jump upon the peace train
Come on now peace train
Get your bags together, go bring your good friends too
Cause it’s getting nearer, it soon will be with you
Now come and join the living, it’s not so far from you
And it’s getting nearer, soon it will all be true
Now I’ve been crying lately, thinking about the world as it is
Why must we go on hating, why can’t we live in bliss
Cause out on the edge of darkness, there rides a peace train
Oh peace train take this country, come take me home again

Written for Helen Vahdati’s 10/22/17 Song Lyric Sunday where the theme is peace.

20 thoughts on “Peace Be With You

  1. I am a big fan of Cat Stevens and loved the Tea for the Tillerman album. One of my favorite songs by him is “Where do the Children Play.” When I was in graduate school, I was taking an urban planning course and was working on a term paper on urban planning. I came across a playground in the city that was going to converted to condominiums. Someone had tagged a wall opposite the playground before it was converted with the words, “Where will the children play?” It was very impactful…for me, anyway.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for bringing this song back. I shared it in a collection for the International Day of Peace last month. I’ve always been a fan of Cat Stevens and was sad to learn about the negative energy. I think I was in my early twenties when I became enthralled by his album, Numbers, about the story of the numbers 1 thought 9 and what happened when they discovered 0. I just now found and the lyrics to “Peace Train” on a page with the 10 Promises of Peace. I guess there’s always hope.

    Liked by 1 person

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