Song Lyric Sunday — Just Like Dad

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday, Jim Adams chose the theme “Dad/Father/Barbecue” in honor of today being Father’s Day in the U.S. The song I chose is “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin.

“Cat’s in the Cradle” is a folk rock song by Harry Chapin from his 1974 album Verities & Balderdash. The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 in December 1974. It was Chapin’s only number 1 hit song.

“Cat’s in the Cradle” tells the story young boy who dreams of growing up to be just like his father. But his father doesn’t have time to be with his son because he’s so busy with his work. Initially, this doesn’t seem like a big deal because of the demands of his hectic life working and paying bills and because his son is so young. Over time, though, both father and son grow into a switching of life roles. The father realizes that his son’s busy life means that roles have reversed and it’s now the son who has no time to spend with his older father. With a heavy heart, the old man realizes that his boy has, indeed, grown up to be just like him.

The song is based on a poem that Harry’s wife, Sandy, wrote. She said the original idea for “Cat’s In The Cradle” came to her when she was on a long drive and would listen to country music, because words would keep her awake better than just music. “And I heard a song,” she said, “I can remember the story, but I don’t remember who sang it or what the title was, but an old couple was sitting at their breakfast table and looking out the window, and they saw the rusted swing and the sandbox, and they were reminiscing about the good old days when all the children were around and then the grandchildren, and how it passed, and now it’s all gone.”

It took the birth of his own son for Harry to decide to turn the poem his wife wrote into a song. Chapin would introduce the song at all his concerts and say, “This is a song my wife wrote to zap me because I wasn’t home when our son Josh was born.”

But Chapin’s wife said that the poem was actually inspired by the awkward relationship between her first husband, James Cashmore, and his father, not as a slam on Harry’s missing the birth of his son.

On July 16, 1981, Chapin died at the age of 38 in a car accident as he was driving on the Long Island Expressway on his way to perform at a free concert scheduled for later that evening.

Here are the lyrics to this melancholy song.

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you, Dad
You know I’m gonna be like you”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home, Dad
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home, Dad
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then
You know we’ll have a good time then

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while”
He shook his head and said with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, Dad
You know we’ll have a good time then

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can 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
It’s been sure nice talking to you”

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
When you comin’ home son
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then, Dad
We’re gonna have a good time then

10 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Just Like Dad

  1. newepicauthor June 16, 2019 / 7:23 am

    Good one Dango. I was hoping that someone would write about this song today and you did an excellent job. I always liked this song, even though it is a bit sad it is also a reflection about life,

    Liked by 2 people

  2. aisasami June 16, 2019 / 8:54 am

    I looooooooooooooooooooooooove this song. I love it since I was little, it is simply magical.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. msjadeli June 16, 2019 / 10:47 am

    Harry Chapin wrote some first class songs, and it looks like his wife did also. Every song gives an important life lesson. Thank you for the background info on the song as it makes it that much more precious.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. leigha66 June 17, 2019 / 9:41 am

    I still remember sitting on my bed listening to the radio when they announced Harry Chapin had died in the car crash… one of my favorite songs!

    Liked by 1 person

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