# 43: Cat’s in the Cradle: Harry Chapin: 1974
Most people think Cat’s in the Cradle is a Cat Stevens song and indeed Stevens, along with Bob Dylan and a number of others, did do a cover of this song. But Cat’s in the Cradle began as a poem written by Sandra Chapin, which was then turned into a song by her husband, Harry Chapin. It was released in 1974 on the album, Verities & Balderdash, and also as a single. It is in fact, Chapin’s only #No1 song, but my goodness! What a song it is! These lyrics are timeless.
Chapin was a song writer of stories, and pretty good ones at that but also another of those decent human beings who was a dedicated humanitarian and gave much of this money away. He was instrumental in the creation of the American Presidential Commission of World Hunger and was posthumously awarded The Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian work in the fight to alleviate world hunger in the 1970s.
In July 1981, at 38 years of age, Chapin was killed in a motor vehicle accident. He was on his way to a preform in a free benefit concert but never arrived. You can google this accident for more details but the end result was that the world lost a good man that day. It is a testamnet to him that so many others have released a cover version of his song and also to the fact that almost 50 years later this song is as relevant as when it was first released.
Cat’s in the Cradle is a sad song about a dad who was too busy to be a major part in his son’s life. There was always something more important to do and the child grew up. When the dad had retired and had the time to have a relationship with his son, the son now was too busy, repeating the model he had seen in his father. And everyone missed out. I don’t think this song is about a lack of love, just misplaced priorities! And boy, isn’t that easy to do.
Which brings me to my next point. We have just had my son and his two small children visiting us and I cannot tell you how happy it makes my heart seeing him being a father to his children. It is obvious they love him and he is loving, firm, calm, encouraging and present with them. This is particularly heart warming since he missed out on so much fathering from his own dad. And to be fair, that in itself was a result of the childhood he had experienced with his father before. To see the cycle being broken is simply beautiful!
He’d say, “I’m gonna be like you, dad.”
I am fully convinced that children grow and learn by osmosis! They absorb their parents, their values, behaviours and their characters are moulded by the things they see and hear around them. Children are experts at spotting hypocrisy, they are not too fussed on the do as I say – not as I do model of parenting.
Here is to all the young parents out there doing a great job in raising the next generation and understanding the cat is in the cradle for such a short time and in all probability he will grow up to follow the model you have set.
2 replies to “The Songs We Will Sing.”
Thanks for this edition Estelle. We have just returned from a wonderful time in Brisbane to celebrate our daughter-in-law’s 40th birthday where we witnessed again young parents doing a great job of rearing our grandchildren.
Our son, Sam is such a good, caring, loving, disciplined and demonstrative father. We must have done something right.
Absolutely.I am sure you and Jan did A LOT that was right. It absolutely warms the heart doesn’t it?