Harry Chapin – Cat’s In The Cradle

4th June 2024 · 1970s, 1974, Music, Singer-songwriter

Harry Chapin is someone I vaguely recall in the same MoR mould as John Denver and Jim Croce, making sentimental string-laden songs with sermonising social messages. Which is true. But I do him a disservice.

When he died in a traffic accident at the age of only 38, he had not only sold 12 million records in a decade-long career, but directed an Oscar-nominated boxing documentary, written a stage musical that won two Tony nominations, and won an Emmy for a children’s TV show.

Even more impressively, as a philanthropist and activist, he dedicated most of his life to tackling world hunger and poverty – in deeds as well as words.

Chapin had begun singing in his Brooklyn high school choir, going on to form a group with his two brothers, before moving into film documentaries with immediate success.

After a bidding war between two record companies, he then signed one of the biggest deals ever and had an immediate hit single with Taxi, which became his signature song.

Four albums later, following another successful single, W.O.L.D. – his only UK hit – he disbanded his group to write a stage musical. It only ran for five weeks but earned him two Tony nominations.

Then came this sad, sentimental, semi-autobiographical story of a dad losing touch with his son, Cat’s In The Cradle.

But by now philanthropy was taking more of his time and in 1976 he played a key role in persuading Jimmy Carter to set up a Presidential Commission on World Hunger and several other projects tackling poverty and hunger.

Five years later, in 1981, he was driving along the Long Island Expressway on his way to a meeting when a tractor-trailer drove into the back of his car, exploding the petrol tank and bringing an end to the remarkable life of a remarkable man.