And if I ever lose my north and south…

Moonshadow is considered one of Cat Stevens greatest songs and his personal favourite of that period. It imagines the loss of body parts as a form of liberation.

One curious verse talks about the loss of teeth:

And if I ever lose my mouth
All my teeth, north and south
Yes, if I ever lose my mouth
Oh if, I won’t have to talk..

So what is ‘north and south’ in relation to teeth. The obvious reference seems to be upper and lower teeth. Why?

Well, it helps the rhythm of the song and establishes the rhyme very nicely. But at the same time it does highlight the perverseness of verticalism. There seems no direct link between the upper teeth and north, other than via a modern convention to orient maps in books and on walls with north at the top. The personal is the cartographical.

Oh, I’m bein’ followed by a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow
Leapin and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, moonshadow, moonshadow

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