Wild World (song)

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"Wild World"
Wild-World-cover.jpg
Single by Cat Stevens
from the album Tea for the Tillerman
B-side
  • "Miles from Nowhere" (USA)
  • "Sad Lisa" (Germany)
ReleasedSeptember 1970
Recorded1970
GenreFolk rock
Length3:15
LabelIsland (UK/Europe)
A&M (US/Canada)
Songwriter(s)Cat Stevens
Producer(s)Paul Samwell-Smith
Cat Stevens singles chronology
"Father and Son"
(1970)
"Wild World"
(1970)
"Moonshadow"
(1971)

"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.

Song meaning[edit]

Stevens developed a relationship with actress Patti D'Arbanville and the two were a pair throughout a period of roughly two years. 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".

Interpretation[edit]

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]

Chart history[edit]

Cover versions[edit]

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, such as 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.[17]

On 7 July 2007, the song was performed twice at the Live Earth concerts. James Blunt sang it at Wembley Stadium in London, England, while Stevens (by then known as Yusuf Islam) himself sang it in Hamburg, Germany.[18][19]

In 2011, Taiwanese-American singer Joanna Wang released her own version on her album The Things We Do for Love. Wang's version was also featured in American web television series The Good Fight Season 1, 2017.[20]

Notable covers[edit]

Maxi Priest version[edit]

"Wild World"
Single by Maxi Priest
from the album Maxi
B-side"On and On"
ReleasedMay 23, 1988
Length3:38
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)Cat Stevens
Producer(s)Robbie Shakespeare
Willie Lindo
Lowell "Sly" Dunbar
Maxi Priest singles chronology
"How Can We Ease The Pain?"
(1988)
"Wild World"
(1988)
"Goodbye to Love Again"
(1990)
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. 25 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.

Charts[edit]

Chart (1988) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[21] 8
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[22] 5
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[23] 11
Ireland (IRMA)[24] 5
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[25] 7
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[26] 7
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[27] 5
Norway (VG-lista)[28] 3
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[29] 17
UK Singles (OCC)[30] 5
US Billboard Hot 100[31] 25

Mr. Big version[edit]

"Wild World"
Mr. Big Wild World.jpg
Single by Mr. Big
from the album Bump Ahead
Released1993
GenrePop rock
Length3:27
LabelAtlantic
Songwriter(s)Cat Stevens
Producer(s)Kevin Elson
Mr. Big singles chronology
"Just Take My Heart"
(1992)
"Wild World"
(1993)
"Ain't Seen Love Like That"
(1994)
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 reception[edit]

Larry Flick from Billboard described it as "a relatively faithful cover". He added, "Pleasing lead vocals and tightly knit harmonies weave around cowboy-like acoustic strumming and nimble-but-subtle electric doodling. Warmly familiar, easy-going track".[32] Troy J. Augusto from Cashbox commented, "Back to ballad-land again with a credible cover of the Cat Stevens classic."[33] Dave Sholin from the Gavin Report called it a "soulful, sensitive approach with a slight rock edge." He stated that lead singer Eric Martin "is powerful without overpowering the song."[34] Kent Zimmerman complimented its "decidedly wooden, unplugged flavor".[35] Alan Jones from Music Week said it is "rendered in the low key intimate rock ballad style recently deployed by the likes of Metallica, Extreme and Little Angels. Mr. Big carry it of very well and can expect a modest hit."[36] John Kilgo from The Network Forty noted that it "sounds remarkably similar to the 1971 original", adding that it "will sound like a fresh, new song to the younger demographics."[37]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "Wild World" was directed by Nancy Bennett.[38]

Track listing[edit]

CD single, Europe (1993)
No.TitleLength
1."Wild World"3:27
2."Temperamental"4:55
CD maxi, Europe (1993)
No.TitleLength
1."Wild World"3:27
2."Temperamental"4:55
3."Let Yourself Go"4:03
4."Voodoo Kiss" (Live Previously Unreleased)5:38

Charts[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Wild World by Cat Stevens Songfacts".
  2. ^ "Yusuf Chart History". Billboard. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  3. ^ Scoppa, Bud (24 May 1971). "Easy Does It". Rock Magazine. Retrieved 28 October 2008.
  4. ^ Judy Berman, "10 Classic Rock Songs That Are Also Epic Mansplanations", Flavorwire, 19 November 2013.
  5. ^ "The Deconstruction of Popular Music: 'Wild World', by Cat Stevens, Literary Ramblings, 1 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Rob Sheffield's Worst Song of 2013: 'Blurred Lines'". 6 December 2013.
  7. ^ Ellen Willis, "But Now I'm Gonna Move," October 1971, page 135-139
  8. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992: 23 years of hit singles & albums from the top 100 charts. St Ives, N.S.W, Australia: Australian Chart Book. p. 66. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  9. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 5221." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  10. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 5377." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  11. ^ "Cat Stevens Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Cat Stevens Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  13. ^ Cash Box Top 100 Singles, April 17, 1971
  14. ^ "Cat Stevens: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  15. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1999). Pop Annual. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. ISBN 0-89820-142-X.
  16. ^ "Cash Box Year-End Charts: Top 100 Pop Singles, December 25, 1971". Archived from the original on 6 October 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2017.
  17. ^ Street-Porter, Jane (2 April 2005). "Editor-At-Large: He lured boys. He's a bully. Now he bleats". Independent.
  18. ^ "James Blunt covers Cat Stevens at Live Earth". Rolling Stone. 7 July 2007.
  19. ^ "International Report: Live Earth Hamburg". NME. 7 July 2007.
  20. ^ "Joanna Wang – Wild World". YouTube. 23 September 2011.
  21. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Maxi Priest – Wild World". ARIA Top 50 Singles.
  22. ^ "Ultratop.be – Maxi Priest – Wild World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  23. ^ "RPM (February 6, 1989)". RPM. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  24. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Wild World". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved January 29, 2020.
  25. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Maxi Priest" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  26. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Maxi Priest – Wild World" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  27. ^ "Charts.nz – Maxi Priest – Wild World". Top 40 Singles.
  28. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Maxi Priest – Wild World". VG-lista.
  29. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Maxi Priest – Wild World". Singles Top 100.
  30. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  31. ^ "Maxi Priest Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  32. ^ "Single Reviews" (PDF). Billboard. 25 September 1993. p. 73. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
  33. ^ Augusto, Troy J. (25 September 1993). "Pop Singles: Reviews" (PDF). Cashbox. p. 9. Retrieved 3 November 2020.
  34. ^ Sholin, Dave. "Singles" (PDF). Gavin Report. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  35. ^ Zimmerman, Kent (8 October 1993). "Gavin Album: New Releases" (PDF). Gavin Report. p. 56. Retrieved 16 October 2020.
  36. ^ Jones, Alan (30 October 1993). "Market Preview: Mainstream - Singles" (PDF). Music Week. p. 18. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  37. ^ "Mainstream: Music Meeting" (PDF). The Network Forty. 10 September 1993. p. 22. Retrieved 24 March 2020.
  38. ^ "Wild World (1993) by Mr. Big". IMVDb.com. Retrieved 18 October 2018.
  39. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40.
  40. ^ "Ultratop.be – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50.
  41. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 2312." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  42. ^ "Top 10 Denmark" (PDF). Music & Media. 8 January 1994. Retrieved 27 March 2018.
  43. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. 8 January 1994. Retrieved 28 March 2018.
  44. ^ "Lescharts.com – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in French). Les classement single.
  45. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts.
  46. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (30.09.1993 – 06.10.1993)" (PDF). Dagblaðið Vísir – Tónlist. Retrieved 13 March 2018.
  47. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – Mr. Big" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40.
  48. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Mr. Big – Wild World" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  49. ^ "Charts.nz – Mr. Big – Wild World". Top 40 Singles.
  50. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Mr. Big – Wild World". VG-lista.
  51. ^ "Notowanie nr618" (in Polish). LP3. 17 December 1993. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
  52. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Mr. Big – Wild World". Singles Top 100.
  53. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Mr. Big – Wild World". Swiss Singles Chart.
  54. ^ "Mr. Big: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  55. ^ "Mr. Big Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  56. ^ "Mr. Big Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  57. ^ "Mr. Big Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  58. ^ "Mr. Big Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved 17 January 2021.
  59. ^ "Jaarlijsten 1994" (in Dutch). Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved 30 November 2019.

External links[edit]