About the Song
A 1974 folk music, “Cat’s in the Cradle” was penned by American singer-songwriter, producer, and humanitarian Harry Chapin and wife, Sandra. The song was released as a single on October 1, 1974, included on Chapin’s album Verities & Balderdash. American songwriter and record producer Paul Leka produced the song under the Elektra Label.
“Cat’s in the Cradle” was a top contender on the Billboard music charts in 1974. Actually, it became the no. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1974. It was Chapin’s only no. 1 hit and has become his best-known folk music at the same time a staple for that kind of music. Furthermore, the song charted in eight different music charts in four countries. Aside from topping the Billboard Hot 100, the song was also no. 1 on Cash Box Top 100. Also, it went no. 6 on both the Billboard Easy Listening and Adult Contemporary. In Australia, “Cat’s in the Cradle” peaked at no. 6 while it was no. 3 and no. 7 in Canada’s Top Singles and Adult Contemporary, respectively. On the other hand, it reached no. 53 on the UK Singles chart.
Chapin’s recording of “Cat’s in the Cradle” earned him a nomination for the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. In addition, Chapin got inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011.
A Song for All Fathers Out There
The song takes its lyrics from the poem written by Sandra “Sandy” Gaston, Harry’s wife. The poem was actually inspired by the relationship between her James Cashmore, her first husband, and John, James’ father. John Cashmore was a politician who served as the president of Brooklyn borough in New York. In addition, Sandy’s poem was also inspired by a country music she had heard on the radio.
Also, Chapin once stated that “Cat’s in the Cradle” was about his own relationship with Josh, his son. In fact, he admitted:
“Frankly, this song scares me to death.”
The song tells a heartbreaking story of a father and his son who can’t find time to be with each other. It depicts the tale of a father with his newborn son. Although the father has all the necessities to rear his son, his career puts him off by having a quality time with his child.
Over time, both the father and the son, later on, grew into a switching of life roles. Soon, the father realizes his son’s dreams of entering college, traveling, and driving away from home. He eventually longs to spend more time with him. However, his son doesn’t have much time to spend with him. In a sudden twist of time, the father sees that his son has no more time with him and soon realizes that his boy has become just like him.
The song starts with the following lines:
My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, dad”
“You know I’m gonna be like you”
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when”
But we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then
Listen to the original version of Harry Chapin’s “Cats in the Cradle” below:
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Cat's in the Cradle, Harry Chapin