What is the meaning of Cat Stevens's “The Wind”?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

This brief, lyrical song is mystical in tone and does not lend itself to rigorous textual interpretation, relying principally on mystical sensations and images for its effect. The song opens with the lines:

I listen to the wind
To the wind of my soul
Where I'll end up, well, I think
Only God really knows...

This establishes the theme, a frequent one in Cat Stevens's songs, of being open to experience and allowing oneself to be directed by a higher power. The singer listens to his soul, but it does not tell him what to do or where to go, and he does not claim to have any ideas on the subject. The first verse concludes with the image of the singer sitting on the setting sun without wanting water, a magical, mystical image of the impossible.

The beginning of the second verse echoes the opening lines of the first, in both form and content:

I listen to my words
But they fall far below
I let my music take me
Where my heart wants to go...

This statement about the superiority of music over words in giving directions cuts to the heart of Stevens's message. Words are too prescriptive. And whereas music may give you a general sense of where you want to be, which is not expressible in words, it does not plan your route for you. The singer has "swam upon the devil's lake" but vows that he will never repeat the experience. He will trust in music and the spiritual power that accompanies it to guide him, however vaguely, in the right direction.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team