Health and Strength of Mind, Body and Soul
   Home      Cat's in the Cradle – Interpretation, Insights, Meaning and Lyrics/Words of Harry Chapin's Deep Song
Cat's in the Cradle – Interpretation, Insights, Meaning and Words/Lyrics of Harry Chapin's Song for Fathers and Parents
© Donald Reinhardt, May 27, 2013
Harry Chapin in Concert, Photo Credit: Wikipedia via Flicker
The 1974 song of Harry Chapin, based on a song written together with his wife Sandy, tells a simple and sad story clearly and well. "The Cat's in the Cradle" presents the problem of personal and extreme dedication to work and the subsequent neglect of family by a father or any parent or guardian of a child. The poem and story reflects Harry Chapin's life as a son himself and the fear that he could be that to his son Josh – Chapin said, "and frankly the song scares me to death."  (Soundstage commentary, see Sources).
Cat's in the Cradle Story and Meaning
This song strikes a theme of time quickly passing and time lost. The song reminds us that a hurried and busy life of work causes loss of person-to-person connection, interaction and love. It is ultimately a sad story of what might have been, could have been, should have been and never came to be.
The concluding words and thoughts of the song affirm the final point, that our behavior can influence and cause others to be just like us – people too busy to take time, interact, listen and enjoy each other's company.  
The hurried life reflects and embodies modern rush-rush-workaholic societies found all over the world. Our own imperfections, worries, hurries, neglects all become cast upon and molded into our immediate family or friends. Soon, when we look back, it is all past and gone. The moments have been lost.
The Cat's in the Cradle is a strong reminder to take time to relax and be with family and friends. Yes, take time to share, play, laugh, think, care and grow together. Time well spent is time that is never lost. Time poorly spent, is time forever lost. Treat time well and value it – that pays big dividends now and in the years ahead.
Cat's in the Cradle Words/Lyrics
written by Harry Chapin and Sandy Chapin
My child arrived just the other day
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 said,
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?
Son, I don't know when.
We'll get together then.
We're gonna 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 okay,
and he walked away
and his smile never dimmed 
and he said,
You know, 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?
Son, I don't know when.
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 on the moon.
When you comin home?
Son, I don't know when.
We'll get together then.
We're gonna have a good time then.

Well I've long since retired,
my son's moved away.
I called him up
just the other day.
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 kids have the flu,
But it's sure nice talkin' to you, dad.
It's been sure nice
talkin 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.
 Chorus Finale
 Cat's In the Cradle -Word and Line Interpretation of Lyrics Above
My baby child was born as baby's are
But I was busy with business away and the need to pay family bills
and he learned to walk and talk before I knew it
And he said in admiration one day I am going to be just like you (hard-working and busy)
Chorus Interpretation of Cat's in the Cradle
It's nursery rhymes and kid's stories and the passage of time and the promise of getting together at a future time and a time where we will enjoy each others company and family fellowship
Time has passed and my boy is ten and I gave him a ball and he wanted to play and learn to throw, but I said I don't have time right now. He smiled and understood and admired me and said I am going to be just like you when I grow up.
He came back from college just recently and was a man who I was proud of and I asked him to stay awhile, but he wanted to borrow my car because he was a little too busy right now he said as he smiled.
I called him during my retirement time and he had moved away, so I asked if he could visit.
He said he would love to, but the kids were sick and his job kept him too busy and he did not have the time. And after our conversation was over I sat back, thought and realized he had turned out exactly as me.
Final Interpretation and Synopsis of Cat's in the Cradle
Yes, he was proud of his Dad in so many ways and modeled himself on his Dad and he ended up being just that way too. And after all is sung and said in the Cat's in the Cradle we are struck by what we hear and see – two very busy men who have missed a quality life and good times together because time past is time unrecovered.
Music's Meaning and Value to Humans
Music with its instrumentation and words has a unique way of getting to us and into us – that is indisputable and can be proven by scientific studies and personal testimonies. Music has stirred people to battle against real,virtual and spiritual enemies. Music has emboldened people to survive, grow, change, rest, do something or be something. Music gets within us and transports us to places and emotions that we did not have just before we began the musical journey. Music can alter moods, feelings, temperaments and even actions and decisions. So, there is power in music . We all choose and listen to music that suits our tastes and being. Music is a life-changing experience. Yes, I believe, that no matter how you slice it – music is, and always will be, a life-changing experience for people all over this place we call our earthly home.
Sources Accessed, May 27, 2013
@ Accessed May 27, 2013