Cat Stevens's Moonshadow talks about losing body parts:

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land

Oh if I ever lose my hands, oh if.... I won’t have to work no more

And if I ever lose my eyes, if my colours all run dry

Yes if I ever lose my eyes, oh if.... I won’t have to cry no more

Why does the song do that?


According to Wikipedia (which cites a slightly dubious source that I can't verify), Stevens felt the message of this song was "uplifting" and he has called it an "optimist's anthem".

This song was, of course, written before his conversions to Islam but as Morning Has Broken suggests he has been religious all his life. In the bible, St. Paul advocates that all Christians should keep "faith, hope and love. Indeed, Moonshadow contains other religious themes:

Did it take long to find me? I asked the faithful light.

The title Moonshadow can be taken literally:

"So there I was on the edge of the water on a beautiful night with the moon glowing, and suddenly I looked down and saw my shadow. I thought that was so cool, I'd never seen it before."
- Yusuf Islam interview with Chris Isaak, 2009

So the "faithful light" here is a wordplay both on the light of the Moon and the light of God, and how an appreciation of the former can lead to one of the latter. An optimistic interpretation thus seems fitting.

Although the melody and chorus are uplifting, the cited verses go against the grain and appear rather grim. Reading the whole verse it seems clear that this is a case of dramatic contrast. Stevens suggests a number of pretty dire occurrences:

And if I ever lose my hands, lose my plough, lose my land

But then finds a positive note in each:

I won’t have to work no more

In doing so, he highlights how important it is to remain hopeful and optimistic.

Worth noting that his choice of body parts is interesting in itself. His linking of "hands" with "plough" and "lands" is decidedly anachronistic in tone. "Eyes" are mentioned in the Bible repeatedly, especially as a figurative motif (i.e. "an eye for an eye", "speck in your brother's eye"). And in terms of the mouth, silence ("I won't have to talk no more") has long been seen as a religious virtue.

All of this would tend to support the interpretation that this is a song about hope, inspired by its importance in Christianity.


I always thought that a moonshadow as it is cast at night will leave a bit of a glow or silver edge around the object. Whenever something is lost in the lyrics like the eyes or teeth it counters with a lyric regarding what they no longer need to worry about. He won't have to cry anymore if he loses his eyes, the outlook is always finding the silver lining in each situation.


Also, it means that God is always with us and once he realizes that, it doesn’t matter if he loses his hands, etc.

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