♫ Cat’s in the Cradle ♫ (Redux)

Our friend Keith posted yesterday about the songs he used to sing to his children when they were little, and a number of the songs he mentioned stood out to me.  A few I have already played or maybe even over-played here, some I haven’t, but this one, “Cat’s in the Cradle”, jumped before my eyes.  It is an old favourite, but seeing it on the post where Keith recounts many, many nights of singing his babies to sleep … the contrast hit me.  Too many … both men and women, fathers and mothers, fail to realize just how short their children’s childhood actually is and they keep saying, “Tomorrow”.  My hat is off to our friend Keith for being home with his babes and singing them to sleep at night.

I have played this one here before, but it was nearly three years ago, back in 2018, so … pretend you’ve forgotten and enjoy the music one more time, okay?


I’ve always liked this song, which was Harry Chapin’s only #1 hit song.

The song’s lyrics began as a poem written by Harry’s wife, Sandra “Sandy” Gaston; the poem itself was inspired by the awkward relationship between her first husband, James Cashmore, and his father, John, a politician who served as Brooklyn borough president. She was also inspired by a country music song she had heard on the radio. Chapin also said the song was about his own relationship with his son, Josh, admitting, “Frankly, this song scares me to death.”

Harry Chapin was a dedicated humanitarian and arguably the most politically and socially active American performer of the 1970s.  He fought to end world hunger; he was a key participant in the creation of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger in 1977.  In 1987, Chapin was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian work.  According to his wife, “Harry wasn’t interested in saving money. He always said, ‘Money is for people,’ so he gave it away.”

Sadly, Chapin’s career was cut short in July 1981 when, at age 39, he was killed in a fiery car crash.  His wife and son Josh carry on his philanthropic legacy through the Harry Chapin Foundation. Chapin is buried in the Huntington Rural Cemetery in Huntington, New York. His epitaph is taken from his 1978 song “I Wonder What Would Happen to This World”:

Oh if a man tried
To take his time on Earth
And prove before he died
What one man’s life could be worth
I wonder what would happen
to this world

Cat’s In The Cradle
Harry Chapin

My child arrived just the other day;
Came to the world in the usually way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay.
He learned to walk while I was away.
He was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it.
And as he grew he said,
“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 comin’ home ?”
“Son, I don’t know when.
We’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Well, my son turned ten just the other day.
He said , “Thanks for the ball, Dad. Come on, let’s play.
Could you teach me to throw ?” I said, “Not today.
I got a lot to do.” He said, “That’s okay.”
And he walked away and he smiled and he said,
“You know,
I’m gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I’m gonna be like him.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you comin’ home ?”
“Son, I don’t know when.
We’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Well, he came from college just the other day,
So much like a man I just had to say,
“I’m proud of you. Could you sit for a while ?”
He shook his head and he said with a smile,
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later. Can I have them please ?”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you comin’ home ?”
“Son, I don’t know when.
We’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away.
I called him up just the other day.
“I’d like to see you, if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I could find the time.
You see my new job’s a hassle and the kids have the flu,
But it’s sure nice talkin’ to you, Dad.
It’s been sure nice talkin’ to you.”
And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me,
He’d grown up just like me.
My boy was just like me.
(Yeah, yeah, yeah)

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon,
Little boy blue and the man in the moon.
“When you comin’ home ?”
“Son, I don’t know when.
We’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Songwriters: Sandy Chapin / Harry F. Chapin
Cats In The Cradle lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

33 thoughts on “♫ Cat’s in the Cradle ♫ (Redux)

    • Hmmmm … I had never heard of Ugly Kid Joe before this! I’m not at all a fan of metal, but I must admit this version isn’t half bad! Thanks for introducing me to something new!

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  1. Pingback: Ramblings of an Occupy Liberal

  2. I got to see Harry, with his wife, on stage in Winnipeg not too long before he died. His stories were always the best, well designed for his singing ability. His song, 10,000 Banana, had the whole crowd laughing uproarious lyrics. My favourites of his were Taxi, and Sequl. They were just as sad as this song, but he sang them all with a smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Rawgod, that is a treat. I never got to see him. I have seen him in a concert in the round, which may have been on Austin City Limits. But, to see him interact with the audience would be wonderful. I was much too young to ever have a chance to see Jim Croce, but would have loved that as well. Keith

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is a very good memory, Keith. But I am sure, living where you do, you had the opportunity to see a lot more stars than I did in backwater Winnipeg.
        The Beatles actually came to Winnipeg once. Their plane landed, for fuel I guess, and they stuck their heads out the door and waved to the fans. The radio station had found out about the whistlestop, and encouraged us kids to to get to the airport as fast as we could. I got there just before they went back inside and closed the door, prior to taking off again. I was like half a mile away.
        But still the girls screamed themselves into a frenzy. About a dozen ambulances were called to tend to the ones who had passed out. Beatlemania was real, if even only for three minutes.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It is a good one I had forgotten all about. It was also the night my ex-wife bought Leopold, an antique Chinese brass duck that had no redeeming qualities except that, as she said, “It’s so ugly it’s beautiful!” as she had me carry the 80 lb monstrosity the long mile to home. It was a beautiful night, after a great concert, but I was puffing by the time we got there. Now I’ve gone and ruined a beautiful memory.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I had to mention you, because I think it is awesome that you sang your kids to sleep. Of course, if I had sung to mine, they would have cried and wailed for the entire time, so I settled for reading to them!

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