Cat's in the Cradle
|"Cat's in the Cradle"|
Side-A label of the U.S. vinyl single
|Single by Harry Chapin|
|from the album Verities & Balderdash|
|Released||October 1, 1974|
|Format||7" vinyl, CD|
|Genre||Folk rock, soft rock|
|Harry Chapin singles chronology|
"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. As Chapin's only No. 1 hit 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.
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."
Ugly Kid Joe version
|"Cats in the Cradle"|
|Single by Ugly Kid Joe|
|from the album America's Least Wanted|
|Released||March 25, 1993|
|Genre||Hard rock, soft rock|
|Ugly Kid Joe singles chronology|
In 1992, the hard rock band Ugly Kid Joe included a cover of the song, renamed "Cats in the Cradle", on their debut album America's Least Wanted. The cover was issued as a single in 1993 and peaked at number six on the Billboard Hot 100, the group's highest ever position on that chart. The song also peaked at number three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The single sold 500,000 copies domestically, earning a gold certification from the Recording Industry Association of America.
In Chapin's version, the chorus changes from "when you coming home, dad?" to "when you coming home, son?", as the child grows up, and the situation changes from a busy father neglecting his son to a busy son neglecting his father. In Ugly Kid Joe's version, all the choruses use the same words with a subtle change from "When you coming home? Son, I don't know when", to "When you coming home, son? I don't know when."
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- Johnny Cash made his own version in his album Boom Chika Boom (1989).
- 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”.
- 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.
- 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 "St. Patrick's Day" (S6E19) of The Office (US), 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 this song in Shrek the Third after Shrek learns he's going to be a father.
- 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.
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- Rutherford, Adrian (30 January 2016). "Eerily prophetic Troubles ad that shocked us in 1993 gets 500,000 views in one day". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 22 June 2016.
- O'Doherty, Malachi (30 January 2016). "Landmark in NIO propaganda that showed us how bad Troubles were". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 22 June 2016.