Song: “Cat’s In The Cradle” by Harry Chapin
Reached #1: December 21, 1974 (his first, 1 week)
I’ll start by noting that this is one of my favorite songs.
It’s the simple story of a father watching his son become as distant as he was. And I think it resonates with every guy who either has a dad, becomes one, or even thinks about becoming one.
The first draft came from a poem that Sandy Chapin, Harry’s wife, wrote about her first husband and his father. After the birth of his son Josh, Harry turned it into the most popular song of his too-short career.
Chapin would later (indirectly) inspire the TV series WKRP in Cincinnati with his “W*O*L*D”, the story of a DJ chasing radio and running away from his family.
Of course, we only got the first third of what should have been a long career as the conscience of pop music. In 1981, not far from where I was living at the time, Chapin slowed abruptly and turned on his flashers on the Long Island Expressway to indicate trouble. He then started veering across the road – indications that he, perhaps, was in the midst of a heart attack – before winding up in the path of a PathMark truck which hit his car, broke the gas tank, and set the car on fire. He died in a nearby hospital shortly after the accident.
I sometimes wonder what Chapin would’ve made of the world he didn’t get to see…
Tomorrow, one of the most-hated bands in the world – one that keeps generating pop hits that we all buy but hate ourselves for…
Other songs that reached #1 on December 21:
1985 – “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Richie (his fourth, 4 weeks)