"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."
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100
Ugly Kid Joe version
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."
|U.S. Billboard Hot 100
|Dutch Top 40
|Canada Top Singles (RPM)
|New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)
- 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.
- Donkey sings this to Shrek in Shrek the Third after Shrek learns he's going to be a father.
- The song is also used in the enhanced version of the 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V in the songlist for the game's Los Santos Rock Radio station.
- 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.
- Quitline uses the song to enforce the notion of premature death of parents because of their smoking habits.
- A version by singer Joseph Angel is used for a 2017 TV commercial for TD Ameritrade.
- 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".
- In S5E9 (2013) of "The Middle" Mike tells his son Axl about "this song from the 70s" and its content when Axl is home from college over Christmas break and prefers a party over quality time with his family on Christmas Eve.
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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 2016.
- ^ O'Doherty, Malachi (30 January 2016). "Landmark in NIO propaganda that showed us how bad Troubles were". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 2016.
- ^ Martin, Matt (2014-11-18). "Here's all 162 new songs in the refreshed GTA 5 soundtrack". VG247.com. Retrieved .
- ^ "Youtube: Quitline". 23 May 2017.
- ^ "TD Ameritrade TV Commercial, 'Cat's in the Cradle' Song by Joseph Angel". 11 June 2017.