Cats in the Craddle

cats_cradle

I like this song so much. I first heard this song performed by Ugly Kid Joe, later I know that it is actually a folk rock song by Harry Chapin in 1974 from the album Verities and Balderdash. The song is about a father who is too busy to spend time with his son. Although the son repeatedly asks him to join in his childhood activities, the father always responds with just vague promises of spending time together in the future. While the son longs to spend time with his father, he continues to admire his father. This shapes the son’s future behavior, which turns out to be just like his father. Just check out the following lyrics:

Cat’s in the Cradle
by Sandy & Harry Chapin

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 talking ‘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 in the moon.
“When you coming 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 dimmmed,
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 in the moon.
“When you coming 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 he 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 in the moon.
“When you coming 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 and 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 could find the time.
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got 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 coming home, son?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then, dad.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

The Ugly Kid Joe version does not make this lyrical change but rather changes the grammatical structure of the chorus from “When you coming home?” / “Son, I don’t know when …” to the final “When you coming home, son?” / “I don’t know when …” The final verse is a reverse of the roles; where the father asks his now grown-up son to visit, but the son responds with his father’s line. The father then realizes that he and his son are both alike.

This song always reminds me of my friend, Nancy Saija, who keeps on telling me to spent more time with my kids. As she experienced before with her family, she was too busy with her jobs and suddenly she realized that her children had already grown up, and she couldn’t turn back the time, her children do not really need her anymore. Now, she’s living alone, and still busy with her own works although she’s in top of her career, but this time she’s a much wiser woman whom I can share my problems with. Ik zal uw advies onthouden, Ma’am… je ben mijn beste vriend, altij….

 

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