Father
It's not time to make a change,
Just relax, take it easy.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to know.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.

I was once like you are now, and I know that it's not easy,
To be calm when you've found something going on.
But take your time, think a lot,
Why, think of everything you've got.
For you will still be here tomorrow, but your dreams may not.

Son
How can I try to explain, when I do he turns away again.
It's always been the same, same old story.
From the moment I could talk I was ordered to listen.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.

Father
It's not time to make a change,
Just sit down, take it slowly.
You're still young, that's your fault,
There's so much you have to go through.
Find a girl, settle down,
If you want you can marry.
Look at me, I am old, but I'm happy.
Son, away away away, I know I have to
Make this decision alone, no son
All the times that I cried, keeping all the things I knew inside,
It's hard, but it's harder to ignore it.
If they were right, I'd agree, but it's them you know not me.
Now there's a way and I know that I have to go away.
I know I have to go.
Father, stay stay stay, why must you go and
Make this decision alone?



Lyrics submitted by Novartza, edited by Anulamas

"Father & Son" as written by Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam

Lyrics © BMG RIGHTS MANAGEMENT US, LLC

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Father And Son song meanings
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  • +6
    Song Meaning:This is NOT a CONVERSATION between a father and son! I think most people are missing something very basic. Look at the personal pronouns. In the first sentence (you) is understood and the next sentences we see "You're, your, and you". The Father is talking to the son (or at him). Now look at the son's section of the song. You will see "he/him" written or inferred when speaking about the father. He is not speaking TO his father. He is talking to a third party or, most likely, to himself. That is NOT a conversation. A conversation goes BOTH ways. The father is speaking unilaterally to the son - this is the way it's going to be. The son is NOT speaking back. Like many children do, they storm out of the room or clam up (even when they are adults) and the son’s part of the song is what is going through his angry head afterwards. “He doesn’t understand me, he won’t even listen to me, that’s it – I’m out of here!”

    I think Cat Stevens was a genius in lyrics and meaning (many of which are very subtle) and this song is one of many. This is a great example of what happens to Fathers and Sons at an age where the son might feel like a man but the father is still treating him like a boy. This was written around Vietnam timeframe, the album came out in 1970. Many sons were saying, "Dad I'm a man and I want to join the service and go away to Vietnam" or "Dad this war is bs, I'm going away to live in Canada, or to protest the war, or to live in a commune"... We are not privy to what started the conversation. Think back to when you were this age and tried to have a conversation with a parent. Many parents don’t listen. Before you can finish the sentence, “Dad/Mom I’ve been thinking about taking my college money and cutting an album, and…“ And you don’t get to finish the sentence. Perhaps that is where this song starts. Whatever the son said, the father interrupts with “it’s not time to make a change, just sit down and take it easy”… (read -> you’re not going anywhere) This song makes it hard to judge the father, because he has such a soft voice, but his first sentence is still comes across as an order (Parent to small Child) and not an opinion (as if between adults). It is pleasantly worded, but in essence the father is saying, “this is the way it is going to be”. In the second sentence (about youth) the father insults him. What he is really saying is “Let me tell you what’s wrong with you”. He eventually says “but your dreams may not” giving us a clue that the son wants to chase his dreams and the father thinks his dream may be a fad (if the kid had the benefit of the father’s experience, the child would realize that he is wrong). Perhaps the father went through the same thing with his father and his dreams were crushed. Is the father right? If the kid was 18 and wanted to go to Nam instead of college some may agree with the father. If the kid was 18 and named Steven Demetre Georgiou (Cat), and wanted to forego college to pursue a music career, I’d have to agree with the kid.
    Lyrics2Deepon November 12, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:I think this is a song about a Son who is frustrated and wants to go out into to the world to make his dreams come true. The first verse is the father's advice to his son before he heads off into the world.
    His father, gives him typical parental advice to keep his dreams simple, and be careful. The advice to find a girl and settle down" along with, " I am old but I'm happy" are an attempt to convince his son into a conservative path. He knows the son lacks experience and may do something stupid and impulsive with the lines, "there's so much you don't know" and the awesome poetic line, "Take your time, think alot, think of everything you got, for you will still be here tomorow but your dreams may not". The words emphesize the love the father has for his son and his desire to see his son happy and not broken by the world.
    The son answers back with the typical response of a frustrated youth, that being, that his father's love for him is limiting his potential and holding him back. This frustration is depicted in one of my favorite lines of all time, "from the moment I could talk, I was ordered to listen". The line, "If they were right I'd agree but it's them you know not me" suggests that it may be a response to other people like the son who the father knew and who had failed at great loss. The story of these people, maybe friends of the father in his younger days, may have been told to the son in order to dissuade him from following his dreams and loosing everything. None-the-less at the end of the song the son states that he must satisfy his desire to venture out with the line, "I have to go". It seems that the son heeds his father's warnings and will keep them in mind but also must find out for himself what he is capable of.
    quisp2112on January 24, 2007   Link
  • +3
    General Comment:The song, whose music is soft with a lilting dynamicism, frames an exchange between a father not understanding a son's desire to break away and shape a new life, and the son who cannot really explain himself but knows that it is time for him to seek his own destiny. To echo this, Stevens sings in a deeper register for the father's lines, while using a higher, more emotive one for those of the son.
    MeGallegoson August 21, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General Comment:I think this song is about a young man and his father. The father wants him to go the same way he went. to the family life. The son want to go out and do something with his life that his father doesn't approve of. it seems to me that the father is scared for his son that his sons dreams may not come true so he don't even want him to take a chance and end up with heartbreak.
    AshenCharmon April 07, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:A wonderful song about a conversation between a father and his son. The son is just beginning to realize the world and he is very unhappy to see the world as it is. The father is experienced so he tries to calm down his son. A wonderful piece of art.
    mercanfaton January 09, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:No, I definitely don't think it's about suicide. It's about the classic story of parent and child. Living, loving, but eventually the child has to leave the nest. The father knows this, though it hurts, and it's just advising his son, who is still young and prideful.

    I'm moving thousands of miles away to college this fall. This song makes me teary-eyed.
    BtownMeggyon August 05, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:The classic story of the younger generation who are ready to take on the world with their ideals and what they know inside their hearts vs the older generation that have lived enough to understand what the world is about and that living a simpler life, away from the true pains of the world, would be a better path to take than tackling the world head on.
    BrainDamageon August 24, 2002   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I think its about neither Father or Son understanding each other as well as they think they do, and both of them getting the messages wrong. The Father keeps telling the Son to relax and settle his life down, but the Son doesn't want his Father's life (which his Father can't see) and gets angry when he feels like his Father isn't listening to what he wants in life.
    ZeroOneon October 23, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:Such a beautiful song, and very thought provoking when you are a father! Anyway, the meaning of the song can be found on Cat Stevens' (nee Yusuf Islam) own web site - yusufislam.org.uk/…

    So it is about a son wanting to leave home and join the Russian Revolution. I'm glad I know that now!
    robman_84on December 08, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General Comment:I think it great that Ronan Keating covered the song once again with Cat Stevens. Once he said that Cat was his childhood idol. oh my, it must be strange to sing this song with your idol, and even more strange with someone who said he will never sing these songs again.
    mo_dhia_oiron March 03, 2005   Link

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