Writer: Cat Stevens
Original Release: September 1970
To my mind, Cat Stevens is the world's most under-appreciated songwriter. Born Steven Demetre Georgiou and now known as Yusuf Islam, he may not have the overall body of work to compare with the McCartneys, Dylans, Paul Simons and Joni Mitchells of the world. But Cat Stevens has a remarkable gift for creating authentic-sounding folk songs. I don't mean the political anthems created by Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger for the labor movement. I mean songs that genuinely sound as if they sprung from an ancient oral tradition. The two best examples I know are "The Wind," which I featured in this post, and "Moonshadow."
While I probably first heard the song in my early teens, I never gave much thought to moon shadows as being a real thing until I moved to Vermont in my late 20s. For the Londoner Yusuf, the revelation came while on vacation in Spain. For me, it was on I-89. On my way to White River Junction to be an All-State judge the next morning, I saw moon shadows of pine trees on virgin snow. So enchanted, I was tempted to turn off my headlights in order to see them more clearly but fortunately thought better of it. The following evening, I dragged my wife out for a night drive to find more. Poetically, the direction we picked led us towards the more rural area where we live now. 15 years later, I still look forward to clear winter nights when the bright moon reflects off the snow to create quasi-daylight and reveal those magical shadows.