A poignant musical backstory

I’m sure most of my readers will be familiar with Harry Chapin‘s folk rock classic ‘Cat’s In The Cradle‘.  What I hadn’t been aware of was the backstory to the song, as told by his widow and their son.  I came across this video clip today that provides both, and I thought you’d enjoy it as much as I did.

May we all take to heart the message of that song.



  1. Thanks for the link. Very interesting. That song always makes me sad even though my father was most (sometimes TOO!) attentive when I was growing up.

    In a similar vein, I heard an interesting segment on NPR (yeah, yeah) about the song Save the Last Dance for Me which also had an added level of meaning after learning the back story. Incidentally, the Wikipedia article on songwriter "Doc Pomus" leaves out a number of the difficulties Doc had in his career. It mentions that Doc (legal name Jerome Felder) became a blues singer almost by accident* and went on to record a number of singles. However, the NPR piece provided more information as to how the bigger record companies declined to promote him as a singer when they realized that far from being a black dude as expected he was in fact a Jewish fellow who used crutches (and thus was deemed unphotogenic) as a result of polio. So Doc turned to a very prolific career as a songwriter.

    *According to the NPR piece, the teenaged Mr Felder was hanging around in a Blues club enjoying the music but too poor to afford a beer. When challenged by the owner to justify his presence if he wasn't going to buy anything Jerome boldly stated "I'm a blues singer!" The owner thought to call his bluff and had him go on stage with the band to back him up. To the surprise of many, he turned out to be a very good Blues singer, which lead to regular performances and the aforementioned singles.

  2. My father and I had a good relationship, though not a traditional one. He had been a jock, BMOC at U of MD between WWII and Korea (he was in both), etc. I was a geeky bookworm. Whether by design or smarts, he spent what time he could with me in card games with me and Mom (pitch, 3-handed pinochle, gin rummy), and talking current events when I got older.

    After he retired, he descended into Alzheimer's within a few years, but we still talked as often as we could until he went silent, after a long, lucid conversation on Father's Day 1990. He died the following February. No regrets for either of us.

    I learned those lessons well, as I have a great relationship with my (23-year-old) daughter. She was a true scholar-athlete growing up, so I had to man up on the sports stuff in addition to the nerdy activities I was comfortable with. Although, by the time she was 12, I couldn't keep up with her.

    I'm picking her up at the airport this afternoon. She was helping build a new library for a middle school in Chicago (she has two part-time jobs for, y'know, actual money). Even if I died tonight, I would have no regrets. (Oh, and my wife of almost 40 years is pretty damned good, too.)

  3. His (Chapin) last public performance was here in Honolulu at Anna Banana's bar. If we had only known then.

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