Cat's in the Cradle

Infobox Single
Name = Cat's in the Cradle


Cover size =
Caption =
Artist = Harry Chapin
from Album = Verities & Balderdash
A-side =
B-side = "Vacancy"
Released = 1974
Format =
Recorded =
Genre = Folk rock
Length = 4:02
Label = Elektra Records
Writer = Harry Chapin
Sandra Chapin
Producer = Paul Leka
Certification = Gold
Last single =
This single =
Next single =
Misc =
"Cat's in the Cradle" is a 1974 folk rock song by Harry Chapin from the album "Verities & Balderdash". The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1974. The song later became a hit for the hard rock group Ugly Kid Joe.

The lyrics to the verses of the song were originally written as a poem by Harry Chapin's wife, Sandy, who is credited as the song's co-writer. [Joel Whitburn, Top Pop Singles 1955-1999 (Menomonee Falls, WI: Record Research, 2000), 109.] The poem itself was inspired by the awkward relationship between Sandy Chapin's first husband, James Cashmore, and his father, a New York City politician. She was also inspired by a country song she heard on the radio. More than a year later, after the birth of his own son, Harry added the music and the chorus. Label executive David Geffen selected the song as a single, over Chapin's objections. [ [http://www.harrychapin.com/circle/winter04/behind.htm "Mike Grayeb, Behind The Song: Cat's In The Cradle" ] , Circle!] The song became the best known of Chapin's work and a staple for folk rock music. However, the song is widely mistakenly credited to artist Cat Stevens, in part due to a mistitled MP3 version of the song widely circulated on the internet.Fact|date=April 2008 Jack Black contributed to this confusion, playing part of the song in a "Saturday Night Live" sketch where Black's character claimed the song was by Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. Cat Stevens. There are no known, verifiable recordings of Cat Stevens performing the song however, and a Cat Stevens fan web site assures readers that Stevens has never performed the song, "not live, not in the studio, and not even privately." Stevens did perform a song titled "Father and Son", but that was very different as the son was unsure of his future and the father is a more self-confident man assuring his son not to worry. Another misconception is that due to the tempo and lyrics, the song has an upbeat message; in the final verse it is made clear that the song does not have a happy ending. The chorus refers to these:
*Cat's cradle
*Silver spoon
*Little Boy Blue
*Man in the moon

The story

The song is told in first-person by a father who is too busy to spend time with his son. Though the son repeatedly asks him to join in childhood activities, the father always responds with little more than vague promises of spending time together in the future, which is peppered with images from nursery rhymes. While the son longs to spend time with his father, he continues to admire his father as a role model and tells him that he will be just like him when he is an adult. The third verse shows the son now having his own life in college and the father now wants to spend time with him. However, like his father, it is the son who now ironically does not have time for his father, pursuing his own life.

Years pass and the lonely, aging father, who is now retired and free from the constraints of work, desires yet again to spend time with his son, who by this time is a family man himself. Hoping to make up for lost time, the father reaches out to him again. The son however has his own life and family to worry about; he warmly responds that he is now too busy with his own work and family to spend time with (or even see) his father. Like his father once had, the son promises that someday in the future they will spend time together. The last verses end with the lines "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 talking to you, dad … And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me/He'd grown up just like me/My boy was just like me …". The father realizes that his son is now giving him vague promises exactly like he once did to his son. The final line also says that the son's prediction about growing up to be like his father came true, although not in a way the father would have liked, but rather that the son is now making the same promises for future quality time as his own father once did to him.

To reflect the promises that the two men make to each other, the first two times the chorus is sung, it uses the concluding lines "When you coming home dad?/I don't know when/But we'll get together then/We're gonna have a good time then...", and the last two times, it replaces the word "dad" with "son" and also contains the slightly-altered line "But we'll get together then dad".

Covers and use in popular culture

Infobox Single
Name = Cat's in the Cradle


Cover size =
Caption =
Artist = Ugly Kid Joe
from Album = America's Least Wanted
A-side =
B-side =
Released = 1993
Format =
Recorded = 1991 - 1992 at Devonshire Studios, North Hollywood, CA
Genre = Heavy metal
Power ballad
Length = 4:02
Label = Mercury Records
Writer = Harry Chapin
Sandra Chapin
Producer =
Certification =
Last single =
This single =
Next single =
Misc =

*The Capitol Steps made a parody of this song called "Aristocrats from the Cradle". It was recorded on their album "Springtime for Liberals".

* The song has since been recorded by artists such as Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Nick Randall, Finn Kalvik, Ugly Kid Joe, and Mandy Patinkin. More recently, rapper DMC released a song and video in 2006, entitled "Just Like Me," which uses guitar samples and the chorus from "Cats in the Cradle," with the chorus sung by Sarah McLachlan. The video gives credit and thanks to Harry Chapin and the Chapin Family at the end.

* The Ugly Kid Joe cover of the song peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the UK singles chart, but is still often mistaken for a Guns N' Roses or a Skid Row cover of the song. Neither band has ever recorded this song and it has often been mislabeled as such on Gnutella and other Peer-to-peer networks.

* The Norwegian singer/guitarist Finn Kalvik released a Norwegian version in 1975, entitled "Ride ranke", which charted in Norway.

* Get a Life also spoofed the song in an episode where Chris and his father take part in a father-son activity day, and at the end Chris is glad to done something with his often cynical father. Chris Elliot then plays the guitar and sings the song, but it is interrupted by him somehow getting conked on the head.

* DJ's Jimmy Ray & Jay of WGH-FM Eagle 97.3 (Norfolk, VA) wrote a parody of the song, entitled "Cats In The Kettle" on their second release [http://www.tagtuner.com/music/albums/Ill_Eagles/Livin%27-In-the-House-of-Hope-%28Disc-2%29/album-v2181801 Ill-Eagles II: Living in the House of Hope] , which plays with the stereotype that Chinese restaurants in America use cat meat to pad out their food. As with the erroneous attributions of Chapin's song to Stevens, this parody has been attributed incorrectly to "Weird Al" Yankovic - a source of irritation to Yankovic, who eschews the use of racist humor.

* The song was used as the music bed for a Northern Ireland Office anti-terrorism advertising campaign in the late 1980s, in which a man who commits a mass shooting in a pub loses his son in a terrorist attack many years later. The line "... my boy was just like me" plays as the son's coffin is lowered into the ground.

* In the end of the "Family Guy" episode The Son Also Draws, the trees sing the song when Peter hugs Chris.

* At the end of the "Scrubs", season 4 episode "My Unicorn" when the character Murray (played by Matthew Perry) admits to his dad (who isn't actually his biological father) that he loves him. The dad (played by Perry's father John Bennett Perry) then proceeds to sing the song "Cats in the Cradle" before Murray tells him not to.

* In "The Simpsons" episode "Saturdays of Thunder", Homer hears the song when the National Fatherhood Institute puts him on hold. Also, in the episode "Bart's Girlfriend", Homer sings part of the chorus after watching Bart grow increasingly infatuated with Jessica Lovejoy.

* In the "'Til Death" episode "I Heart Woodcocks" the song plays when Eddie puts Jeff's tape on his car stereo, though the captioning states the song is 'Cat Steven's Cat's in the Cradle."

* In the Canadian television series, "Brothers By Choice" (1986), Max and Laura Williams sing the song at the end of episode 4.

* In the 2007 movie "Shrek the Third", Donkey sings the chorus line (to Shrek's irritation) when Shrek learns that he is going to be a father.

* The song is heard as an "awesome party song" in a 2008 episode of "Lil Bush".
* The Boogeyman sang a verse from the song to Vince McMahon on WWE Monday Night Raw on August 13 2007.

* In an episode of Camp Lazlo, Mr. Lumpus becomes the father of one of the campers after he turns himself in a baby, he grows up rapidly and the camper turns against him saying he's a bad father and Lumpus cries saying, "Cats in the Cradle! Cats in the Cradle"

* In the first episode of the Adult Swim show Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Harvey makes an allusion to the song when speaking to Jonny Quest when he says, "Hmm... The cat's in the cradle, and the silver ball...".

*In the Friends' episode The One With Chandler's Dad, Chandler states "It's all very cat's in the cradle" when explaining to Monica his estranged relationship with his drag-queen father.

*In a late episode of Mad About You a pregnant Jamie asks Paul whether he's going to be "like the father in Cat's Cradle."

*On Will & Grace, Jack sings the chorus mournfully when Bonnie will not allow Jack to see Elliot (This is the episode where Bonnie, played by Rosie O'Donnell comes out as a lesbian, which was a part of O'Donnell coming out publicly).

*Performed by Dilana on (2006).

*Somewhen by Johnny Cash on the Album Boom Chicka Boom

References

External links

* [http://www.harrychapin.com/music/cats.shtml Lyrics at The Harry Chapin Archive]


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