Cat's in the Cradle

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"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)

"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]

In 1992, American rock band Ugly Kid Joe covered the song and released it as a single; their version topped the Australian Singles Chart and became a major hit in several other countries, including Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States.

Background[edit]

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]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[15] Gold 1,000,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Ugly Kid Joe version[edit]

"Cats in the Cradle"
Ugly Kid Joe Cat's in the Cradle Single.jpg
Single by Ugly Kid Joe
from the album America's Least Wanted
ReleasedMarch 25, 1993
Recorded1992
GenreHard rock[16]
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 reception[edit]

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.[17]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[39] Platinum 70,000^
United States (RIAA)[49] Gold 500,000^

^shipments figures based on certification alone

Other versions[edit]

  • Johnny Cash made his own version in his album Boom Chika Boom (1989).[50]
  • In 1975, Norwegian singer and composer Finn Kalvik recorded a Norwegian version of the song as "Ride ranke". The single reached number 10 on the Norwegian singles chart.
  • Ricky Skaggs recorded a version for his 1995 album Solid Ground
  • In 1993 a version of the song was used in an anti-paramilitary advert commissioned by the Northern Ireland Office titled “I Wanna Be Like You”.[51][52]
  • A version of this song was recorded as "Just Like Me" by DMC featuring Sarah McLachlan. This version used the same melody and almost the same chorus lyrics, but with entirely revised lyrics in the verses so as to make the song about DMC's adoption and feelings towards his birth mother. The recording appeared on DMC's 2006 album Checks Thugs and Rock n Roll as well as McLachlan's 2008 compilation Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff Volume 2.

In popular culture[edit]

  • The titles of the Boy Meets World episodes "I'm Gonna be Like You, Dad" and "We'll Have a Good Time Then" quote from the song.
  • In the episode "Not a Father’s Day" (S4E07) of How I Met Your Mother, Barney Stinson sings this song in a karaoke bar.
  • The episode "Wake Up Time" (S1E20) of Cougar Town, opens with the song playing during a game of "Emotional chicken", where "whoever cries to the song first loses". Ellie and Jules are trying to get tears out of remorse from respectively Bobby and Andy, both dads, by talking them into relating to the lyrics.
  • In the episode "St. Patrick's Day" (S6E19) of The Office, Dwight Schrute uses the song to lay a guilt trip on Jim Halpert for returning to work while his wife and newborn are at home.
  • The song is central to the theme of The Goldbergs episode, “In Conclusion – Thanksgiving".
  • Donkey sings a snatch of this song in Shrek the Third after Shrek learns he's going to be a father. (The full original version is included on the film's soundtrack.)
  • In the episode "Labor Pains" (S25E05) of The Simpsons (2013)
  • In the episode "Seasonal Help" (S2E09) of Superstore, Garrett McNeil uses the song to try to get a new father to quit his seasonal job, in an attempt to win a bet.
  • A version of the song is featured in the enhanced versions of the 2013 game Grand Theft Auto V on the in-game radio station, Los Santos Rock Radio.
  • The song was used for New Animated official trailer & 9 TV spots 2019 film Paradoria 2: Enchanted Realm.
  • The song also features in The Middle episode "The Christmas Tree".[53]
  • In the Family Guy episode "The Son Also Draws", a group of talking trees that are figments of Peter's imagination sing the chorus as he reconciles with his son Chris.
  • In the episode "Dyeing is Easy, Comedy is Hard" (S04E15) of Will & Grace (2002), Jack McFarland quotes part of the lyrics when Bonnie, the mother of his son, forbids Jack to see him.
  • In The Simpsons episode "Saturdays of Thunder", Homer (who realized he had been a neglectful father to Bart) called the father/son helpline, is put on hold, and the song starts playing. Naturally, Homer breaks down in tears.
  • In King of the Hill Season 13 episode "What Happens at the National Propane Gas Convention in Memphis Stays at the National Propane Gas Convention in Memphis." The song begins playing as Buck Strickland is saying goodbye to his estranged son, who just like in the song has grown up to be exactly like Buck.
  • On Ulster Television, it was used in an anti-terror campaign, showing a father and son relationship during The Troubles.[54]
  • The song was used in the Heineken 0.0 "Father&Son" commercial in 2020.[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Catholic World. 234–235. Paulist Press. 1991. p. 95.
  2. ^ "VH1's 40 Most Softsational Soft-Rock Songs". Stereogum.com. 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.
  5. ^ Mike Grayeb. "Behind the Song: Cats in the Cradle". Harrychapin.com. Retrieved October 21, 2011.
  6. ^ "Chapin's opening commentary at Soundstage and live performance of the song: "Cat's In The Cradle"". Youtube.com. Retrieved November 9, 2017.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 3899a." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  9. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 3911." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  10. ^ "Harry Chapin Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  11. ^ "Harry Chapin Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  12. ^ CASH BOX POP SINGLES – 1974
  13. ^ "The Top 200 Singles of '74". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. December 28, 1974.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1975/Top 100 Songs of 1975". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  15. ^ "American single certifications – Harry Chapin – Cat's in the Cradle". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 3, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  16. ^ Institute, Bathroom Readers' (2012). Uncle John's Bathroom Reader Cat Lover's Companion. Simon and Schuster. p. 219. ISBN 978-1-60710-656-2.
  17. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Ugly Kid Joe – America's Least Wanted". AllMusic. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  18. ^ "Australian-charts.com – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle". ARIA Top 50 Singles. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  19. ^ "Austriancharts.at – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  20. ^ "Ultratop.be – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle" (in Dutch). Ultratop 50. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  21. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 1763." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  22. ^ "Top RPM Adult Contemporary: Issue 1739." RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  23. ^ "Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10 no. 30. July 24, 1993. p. 19. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  24. ^ "Lescharts.com – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  25. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  26. ^ "Íslenski Listinn Topp 40 (19.–25. mars)". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). March 18, 1993. p. 29. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  27. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Cats in the Cradle". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  28. ^ "Nederlandse Top 40 – week 22, 1993" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40 Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  29. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  30. ^ "Charts.nz – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle". Top 40 Singles. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  31. ^ "Norwegiancharts.com – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle". VG-lista. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  32. ^ "Top 10 Sales in Europe" (PDF). Music & Media. Vol. 10 no. 13. March 27, 1993. p. 28. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  33. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle". Singles Top 100. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  34. ^ "Swisscharts.com – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  35. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  36. ^ "Ugly Kid Joe Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  37. ^ "Ugly Kid Joe Chart History (Mainstream Rock)". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  38. ^ "Ugly Kid Joe Chart History (Pop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  39. ^ a b "1993 ARIA Singles Chart". ARIA. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  40. ^ "The RPM Top 100 Hit Tracks of 1993". RPM. Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  41. ^ "1993 Year-End Sales Charts: Eurochart Hot 100 Singles" (PDF). Music & Media. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  42. ^ "Top 100 Singles–Jahrescharts 1993" (in German). GfK Entertainment. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  43. ^ "Árslistinn 1993". Dagblaðið Vísir (in Icelandic). January 4, 1994. p. 16. Retrieved June 1, 2020.
  44. ^ "Jaarlijsten 1993" (in Dutch). Stichting Nederlandse Top 40. Retrieved December 1, 2019.
  45. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1993" (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  46. ^ "End of Year Charts 1993". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  47. ^ "Schweizer Jahreshitparade 1993" (in German). Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  48. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1993". Billboardtop100of.com. Retrieved August 3, 2019.
  49. ^ "American single certifications – Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved August 3, 2019. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  50. ^ HardyzGuy25 (2008-07-22), Cat's In The Cradle-Johnny Cash, retrieved 2016-08-11
  51. ^ Rutherford, Adrian (30 January 2016). "Eerily prophetic Troubles ad that shocked us in 1993 gets 500,000 views in one day". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  52. ^ O'Doherty, Malachi (30 January 2016). "Landmark in NIO propaganda that showed us how bad Troubles were". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  53. ^ Harris, Will. "The Middle, "The Christmas Tree"". TV Club.
  54. ^ "Powerful Anti-Terror Advert". Youtube.
  55. ^ "Heineken | WYDND | Father&Son". Youtube.

External links[edit]