Motivation Music Monday with Cat Stevens

I thought I would tackle Motivation Monday a little differently today by adding in the angle of song. As you may know, I’m a professor of American music, so music plays in integral role in my life. There is so much power in this art form. It has the ability to convey complex emotions and share important messages that words often fail to express. I think that’s why music can be such a motivating tool.

Motivation Monday | If you want to sing out

For our first Motivation Music Monday, I chose the song, “If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out” by Cat Stevens (now Yusuf Islam).  It is, and has always been, one of my favorite songs. I have wonderful memories of my family sitting around the dinner table, listening to The Very Best of Cat Stevens album, and simultaneously breaking into song during the chorus. No joke; it was like an episode of 7th Heaven or something.

My dad and I also danced to this song at my wedding. Needless to say, it holds a special place in my heart.

I think this song has an important universal message as well, and that’s what I want to share with you today.

Below is the song’s opening verse/chorus, and the recording follows after that. If you’re in a location that allows you to play music, I definitely encourage you to listen to it.

Well, if you want to sing out, sing out
And if you want to be free, be free
‘Cause there’s a million things to be
You know that there are
And if you want to live high, live high
And if you want to live low, live low
‘Cause there’s a million ways to go
You know that there are
You can do what you want
The opportunity’s on
And if you find a new way
You can do it today
You can make it all true
And you can make it undo

Wow. There is so much power in these words. What I especially love is that you can take this message and apply it to whatever challenges or opportunities that you’re facing right now.

Are you a teacher bemoaning the fact that it is already August 7th? Are you heading back to school but feel like you haven’t really embraced your summer?

If so, do it now. If you want to relax, if you want to go play, if you want to simply spend time with your family or your friends, do it.

If you want to sing out, sing out.


Are you stuck in a job that leaves you feeling empty? Are you in an unhealthy relationship that causes you pain? Have you committed yourself to something that is holding you back from the five most important things in your life? If so, reflect a bit, and consider letting go.

If you want to be free, be free. There’s a million things to be, you know that there are.


If you’ve read my blog for a while, you know that I’ve been seeking that elusive work-life balance. It is an incredible struggle for me.

As I listened to Cat Stevens this weekend, his message really hit me hard. I DO want to sing out. I want to play, I want to spend more time with my husband, I want to laugh with those I love. I also know that the responsibilities, pressures, and expectations I feel from my job often hold me back.

As this familiar dialogue replayed in my mind, Cat Steven’s broke through with his wise words:

If you find a new way, then you can do it today.

Cat Stevens
Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) in 1975. George Wilkes/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Yes, I am passionate about my job. Yes, I want to succeed in that position. But at the same time, I am determined to find balance and enjoy my life outside of work as well. I am back at school on August 21, and for the next 14 days, I am making this song my soundtrack.

I’m going to sing out, I’m going to be free, and I’ll find a new way to balance that with my responsibilities. Because I can do what I want, the opportunity’s on. I’ll find a new way, I’ll do it today.

What makes you sing out? What’s your favorite motivational song? Does music play a big part in your life? Let me know below!

28 thoughts on “Motivation Music Monday with Cat Stevens”

  1. Cat Stevens is absolutely my favorite. And I don’t claim favorites very often! (I love him so much I managed to write a thesis paper about his music for an AMERICAN history class in college. Haha!)

    This is a great post.

    1. I LOVE this comment – I teach courses on American pop music at a university, so I’m always excited to hear about thesis projects like that 😀

      1. I managed to somehow discuss how his records sold so well in the US based on what was happening in the world at the time and how his songs resonated with the feelings of average Americans. Or something. I got an A! =)

  2. I was in choir for about 11 years, and I’ve been playing piano for 26 years. I love music so much!

    1. I love hearing things like this 🙂 It is so wonderful that music continues to play such a big role in your life.

  3. I love this. Music is my love language, and I am especially partial to anything before 1990. Cat Stevens is a perennial favorite, and I particularly love this song!

    1. “Music is my love language,” I LOVE that! And I completely agree – Cat Stevens is always a good choice 🙂

  4. 21flavorsofsplendor

    This is a beautiful song! Music is such a big part of our lives. There are so many songs that the second I hear them I’m transported back to a time and place that holds special memories.

  5. I love this post so much! I wrote a similar post a while back about music that speaks to our souls. Cat’s message in this song is just perfect! I think this is going to become one of my new theme songs, but I do really love Ben Rector’s Brand New. It’s just so good!

    1. Amazing – I can certainly understand that. You can’t feel down when you hear those songs 🙂

  6. Music is so powerful… it can help heal, calm… it motivates and encourages… As a pianist, I often turn to music to express my feelings, and I encourage others to do the same. I love that you are using music for Motivation Monday!

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