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"Peace Train"
Single by Cat Stevens
from the album Teaser and the Firecat
B-side "Tuesday's Dead"
"Where Do the Children Play?" (USA)
Released September 1971 (USA)
Length 4:12
Label Island Records
A&M Records (USA)
Writer(s) Cat Stevens
Producer Paul Samwell-Smith
Audio sample
file info · help

"Peace Train" is the title of a 1971 hit song by Cat Stevens, taken from his album Teaser and the Firecat. The song climbed to #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart during the week of October 9, 1971, becoming Stevens' first Top 10 hit. The song also spent three weeks at #1 on the adult contemporary chart.[1] It is also featured on The Very Best of Cat Stevens compilation album.

Along with John Lennon's "Give Peace A Chance", Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction" and Dire Straits' "Brothers in Arms", it is reputedly one of the most famous war-protest songs in history.

Cat Stevens later converted to Islam, changed his name to Yusuf Islam, and went into reclusion, but later made some public comments about the plight of children in the Iraq War. Stevens said "'Peace Train' is a song I wrote, the message of which continues to breeze thunderously through the hearts of millions. There is a powerful need for people to feel that gust of hope rise up again. As a member of humanity and as a Muslim, this is my contribution to the call for a peaceful solution." He re-recorded the song for War Child in 2003. The song has also been covered by Tony Meléndez in 1987, and Jann Arden in 2007.

Aside from Stevens' original recording, another well-known cover version of "Peace Train" was recorded by the American alternative rock band 10,000 Maniacs. The song originally appeared on the band's 1987 album, In My Tribe, and although it failed to chart, the song received airplay from alternative and college radio stations. After Stevens made comments regarding author Salman Rushdie that 10,000 Maniacs lead singer Natalie Merchant found offensive, Merchant led an effort to have "Peace Train" removed from all copies of the album in the U.S. in 1989. The song appeared on copies of the album outside the U.S. and later appeared on various compilation albums. (see In My Tribe).

In 1996, Dolly Parton included a version of "Peace Train" on her album of covers Treasures. Parton produced a CBS television special, airing in November 1996, to promote the album, in which she described "Peace Train" as a personal favorite song of hers. The special also included a brief interview of Yusef Islam, describing how he came to write the song. (Islam later joined Parton on a cover of another of his songs, "Where Do the Children Play", playing guitar on the track.)

Stevens performed the song live at the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony when Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh received the award. The interlude during the song where the background singers chant "Kumbayaba" was removed for this version.

The song also appeared in the movie 2000 film Remember the Titans. In this case, the song advocated peace between different races and ending racial discrimination rather than war protest.

The song was also performed with the accompaniment of The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

The song also appeared in We Are Marshall.

References

  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1996). The Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, 6th Edition (Billboard Publications)

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