Cat's in the Cradle

"Cat's in the Cradle" is a 1974 folk rock song by Harry Chapin from the album Verities & Balderdash. The single topped the US Billboard Hot 100 in December 1974. As Chapin's only number-one song, it became the best known of his work and a staple for folk rock music. Chapin's recording of the song was nominated for the 1975 Grammy Award for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011.[4]

"Cat's in the Cradle"
Chapin cradle cover.jpg
Side-A label of the U.S. vinyl single
Single by Harry Chapin
from the album Verities & Balderdash
B-side"Vacancy"
ReleasedOctober 1, 1974
Recorded1973
StudioConnecticut Recording Studios, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Genre
Length3:29 (single)
3:45 (album version)
LabelElektra
Songwriter(s)Harry Chapin
Sandra Chapin
Producer(s)Paul Leka
Harry Chapin singles chronology
"WOLD"
(1973)
"Cat's in the Cradle"
(1974)
"What Made America Famous?"
(1974)

Composition and backgroundEdit

"Cat's in the Cradle" is narrated by a man who becomes a father in the first verse. Not long after his son's birth, the father is repeatedly unable to spend time with him due to his job, despite his son looking up to him and saying he will grow up to be just like his father. After the son graduates from college, he declines his father's offer to relax with him and instead asks for the car keys. In the final verse, the now-retired father calls his adult son and asks if they can spend some time together. However, the son's own job and family prevents him from promising to spend time with him, and the father realizes that his son has indeed grown up to be just like him.

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.[5] Chapin also said the song was about his own relationship with his son, Josh, admitting, "Frankly, this song scares me to death."[6]

Cash Box called it "a tender story of a father and his son and a perfect representation of how roles change in the relationship over the years," stating it was a "lyrical delight."[7]

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[16] Gold 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Ugly Kid Joe versionEdit

"Cats in the Cradle"
 
Single by Ugly Kid Joe
from the album America's Least Wanted
Released1993
Recorded1992
GenreHard rock[17]
Length4:01
LabelMercury
Songwriter(s)Harry Chapin
Sandra Chapin
Producer(s)Mark Dodson
Ugly Kid Joe singles chronology
"So Damn Cool"
(1992)
"Cats in the Cradle"
(1993)
"Busy Bee"
(1993)
Music video
"Cats in the Cradle" on YouTube

In 1992, American hard rock band Ugly Kid Joe included a cover of the song, renamed "Cats in the Cradle" (without the apostrophe), on their debut album America's Least Wanted. The cover was issued as a single in 1993 and peaked at number six on the US Billboard Hot 100, the group's highest position on that chart. The song also peaked at number three on the Billboard Album Rock Tracks chart. The single sold 500,000 copies domestically, earning a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America. Worldwide, the cover peaked at number one in Australia for a week and reached the top five in Iceland, Ireland, Norway, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland, as well as number seven on the UK Singles Chart.

Critical receptionEdit

Stephen Thomas Erlewine from AllMusic noted the band's "revamped" version of Harry Chapin's "Cats in the Cradle", in his review of America's Least Wanted.[18]

ChartsEdit

CertificationsEdit

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[40] Platinum 70,000^
United States (RIAA)[52] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Elsewhere in popular cultureEdit

Rapper Darryl "DMC" McDaniels was inspired to rewrite "Cat's in the Cradle" and perform it as "Just Like Me," featuring Sarah McLachlan. The song was released from DMC's album Checks Thugs and Rock n Roll in March 2006; it tells the story of his birth and adoption.[53][54] Used in an episode of The Office by Dwight to guilt trip his coworker Jim Halpert into going home to his wife and child; the attempt is almost successful, playing on the clear theme of the relationship between father and son in the song. Ultimately, Dwight's attempt backfires.

In Season 1, Episode 17 of How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson, who was abandoned by his father as a child, performs an emotional rendition of the song at a karaoke bar.

The song was used in a 1993 anti-terrorism advert Public Service Advert in Northern Ireland that plays on the song's theme of a father who neglects his son in order to show a terrorist neglecting his family and his son turning out to be like his father and suffering the consequences in dying by going down the same life path. The video ends with the slogan 'Don't Suffer It, Change It' and the number of the confidential telephones that were in operation at the time to report terrorist activity in Northern Ireland. [55] [56]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The Catholic World. Vol. 234–235. Paulist Press. 1991. p. 95.
  2. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum.com. 31 May 2007. Retrieved July 26, 2015.
  3. ^ Kuge, Mara (7 February 2019). "14 Secretly Cruel Soft Rock Love Songs". Ultimate Classic Rock.
  4. ^ "Grammy Awards: Best Pop Solo Performance". Retrieved 11 October 2015.
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  7. ^ "CashBox Record Reviews" (PDF). Cash Box. August 31, 1974. p. 18. Retrieved 2021-12-11.
  8. ^ a b Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (Illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
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  17. ^ Institute, Bathroom Readers' (2012). Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Cat Lover's Companion. Simon and Schuster. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-60710-656-2.
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External linksEdit