Where Do The Children Play?
Yusuf / Cat Stevens Revisits His Ecological Anthem 50 years on
Where Do The Children Play? stands out as one of the most environmentally insightful songs in popular recording history. In 2020, 50 years after it was first released on Tea for the Tillerman, Yusuf / Cat Stevens has reimagined and re-recorded the song for his upcoming Tea for the Tillerman² album and, supported by its stunning new music video, hopes that its message of ecological sustainability and sustainable growth will once again reach into the hearts of fans and music lovers worldwide and support the growing global movement towards a cleaner and greener future.
Despite being half a century old, Where Do The Children Play? could hardly be more relevant to the state of our world right now – save for a few lines about mobile phones and the internet perhaps! Its brilliance lies in the fact that it recognises and even celebrates human progress while calling for the awareness and restraint to ensure that future generations have a balanced world in which to flourish. With a simple melody, sung with sincerity and passion, accompanied by an acoustic guitar and the lightest of orchestration, Cat Stevens took an issue that is central to the human story, that has been wrestled with, fought over, and endlessly convoluted, and condensed it into four short minutes and one simple question.
A great many of Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ songs handle themes of childhood and the relationships between children and adults: ‘Father & Son,’ ‘Oh Very Young,’ and ‘The Little Ones’ to name but a few. However, Where Do The Children Play? stands out for its powerful environmental message.
The effects of global warming and climate change are now clear for all to see. We are reaping the result of decades of constant wastage and consumerism, that many countries and corporations brazenly practice in the race for perpetual economic growth and prosperity – which Greta Thunberg quite rightly called a ‘fairytale’. Can we see any link between that little girl who stood in front of the world leaders in Davos and openly shamed them because of their refusal to slow down this madness and consider future generations, and the sudden arrival of the virus that has resulted in the near complete shutting down of air travel, factories and millions of retail outlets and businesses on Main Street? Is it coincidence?
Will you make us laugh, will you make us cry
Will you tell us when to live, will you tell us when to die?
Cat’s message is so effective precisely because he calls for balance between our advancing capabilities and our harmony with the natural world. The song’s fundamental question invites us to imagine the destination that we’re aiming for. Only when we have a sense of where we want to go can we ever hope to arrive there.
I know we’ve come a long way,
We’re changing day to day,
But tell me, where do the children play?
The new version of Where Do The Children Play features on Tea for the Tillerman² a 50th anniversary re-imaging of Yusuf / Cat Stevens’ classic album.
Pre-order T4TT2 here: catstevens.com/tea-for-the-tillerman
Learn about the good things to come: peacetrain.org