MarsEarth

Old world wisdom, new world insight – poems, poetry, philosophy, dreams, commentary, ideas

The Saddest Songs of Rock and Roll – #23

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by Lawrence J. J. Leonard

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. We don’t intend to be just like our parents or guardians. Something happens as we grow older and begin to use good habits to protect ourselves or personal interests. We also try out bad habits that supposedly help us to ‘get through it’ or ‘to forget’ painful trials. This is how we evolve into who we are. Some of us are strong and motivated to develop good things and to make life better. The rest of us have weaknesses. We are preoccupied with not fainting from the pain, or struggling to see the light of a new day. We all confront roadblocks and hassles and really stupid humans along the way. If any of us get a chance to be a role model, we often struggle with doing the right thing.

For singer and songwriter Harry Chapin (1942 – 1981) our world was in was in constant need of somebody doing the right thing. Some of his friends such as Bruce Springsteen would say he was more than an activist and a little overbearing besides. Harry was versatile and his work as a guitar teacher brought him together with a student, Sandy Gaston, whom he asked to marry two years into their relationship. The new Mrs. Sandy Chapin inspired one of Harry’s songs “I wanna learn a love song“. The two would later collaborate on one of the most impactful hits which is still very recognizable today.

The new song’s lyrics began as a poem written by Sandy. It was inspired by the awkward relationship between her first husband James Cashmore and his father.  Apparently fathers and sons have issues when the dad is too busy with work or another relationship to maintain a connection. it is rumored that Harry told an audience that the song scared him just thinking about its implications. Is it really that hard for a father to spend time and nurture a relationship with a growing son (or daughter)?

Number 23
The hit songCat’s in the Cradle” was considered a folk rock song, but it was played on the album oriented rock stations of the day.  Before there was alternative rock,  there was alternative radio which embraced all forms of rock music.  The song appeared on Harry’s fourth studio album “Verities & Balderdash.” The single was released just five weeks after the album was in stores. The track became a holiday theme song of sorts and it reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in December, 1974. It was so deeply revered that it was brought Harry a nomination for a Grammy Award in the ‘Best Male Pop Vocal Performance’ category. The song’s brilliance was enough to have it inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011.

We spend valuable time evaluating our lives. Mostly we hear from those negative tapes that play over and over in our head about what we are lacking. When we tune into what can be done about past mistakes, we must first ask for forgiveness. The only power stronger than regret is making the decision to be there – to show up and be a supporter of the person who deserves our time and consideration. That is what a good dad does.

Lyrics: written by Harry Chapin and Sandy Chapin

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talking before I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say, “I’m gonna be like you, dad.
You know I’m gonna be like you.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, dad?”
“I don’t know when,
but we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, dad; come on, let’s play
Can you teach me to throw?”
I said, “Not today, I got a lot to do.”
He said, “That’s okay.”
And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah.
You know I’m gonna be like him.”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, dad?”
“I don’t know when,
but we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

Well, he came from college just the other day
So much like a man, I just had to say,
“Son, I’m proud of you. Can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head, and he said with a smile
“What I’d really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys.
See you later; can I have them please?”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, dad?”
“I don’t know when,
but we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

I’ve long since retired, and 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 could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got 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

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man in the moon
“When you coming home, dad?”
“I don’t know when,
but we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”

If you are feeling depressed, do something about it. Please find help before making any rash decisions.  Click here: the National Institute of Mental Health.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder (ED) CLICK HERE to get more information from the NIMH.

Read up on PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder Click Here.

Copyright © 1960-2017 Lawrence J. J. Leonard All rights reserved.

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Author: SpindoctorUSA

American poet, songwriter, and novelist; publishing poetry and short stories in print and online since 1998. Native of Houston, Texas, and former Marine (although there is no such thing as a former Marine). Family roots reach back to Mexico, Spain, Native America, France and Ireland. This promotes a worldview rich in family love, emotion, storytelling, and truth finding. Really enjoys well-written and well thought out verse, and backs away from over-used common and vulgar expressions. Words are music – just find the best “beat” and it will “sing” for you. “Knowledge may be power, while power certainly is love, but love is knowledge. Know who you are.” ~ Lawrence J. J. Leonard (1984)

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