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A Cautionary Song for Fathers

Harry Chapin’s song “Cat's in the Cradle” topped the US Billboard charts in 1974. The song was so popular it was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011. Over the years there were several movie and TV show references to the song, including three episodes of The Simpsons and That '70s Show. The official YouTube video has 11 million views.

The song has touched many people’s hearts because it is about a father neglecting his son and the consequences as a result. It is based on a poem written by Chapin’s wife Sandy, who would tell reporters after the song became a worldwide hit:

Harry introduced the song at all his concerts by saying, “This is a song my wife wrote to zap me because I wasn't home when our son Josh was born.” I was always kind of amused by that because of the fact that we learn life's lessons too late. We don't learn lessons before the fact. We don't have a child born and then have all this wisdom.

The crux of the song is encapsulated in the lyrics near the end:

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

An excellent lyric video to play during sermon is found here.

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