Cat's in the cradle

by Tom Harleman

What song inspired Harry Chapin's wife to write a poem that he used to write Cat's in the Cradle?

Then, after Sandy married Harry, she was writing poems and helping Harry to write songs for the television show "Make a Wish" when a country music song on the radio caught her attention.

"It was about a man and a woman sitting at their kitchen table and looking out to the backyard. They had a swing set and a sandbox and bicycle in the corner," she said. "They were talking about how it all went by so fast and how they could have spent more time, and now the kids are gone. That song put me in the mood for writing a lyric."

Inspired, Sandy scratched out three verses about a child getting older, the story of which Harry eventually used as the basis for "Cat's in the Cradle." "He came home and I showed him the poem, and he sort of brushed it aside," she said.

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