Saturday, December 21, 1974

Harry Chapin “Cat’s in the Cradle” hit #1

Cat’s in the Cradle

Harry Chapin

Writer(s): Harry Chapin, Sandra Chapin (see lyrics here)

First Charted: September 28, 1974

Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 2 GR, 11 HR, 3 RR, 6 AC, 1 CL, 3 CN, 6 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 73.4 video, 108.16 streaming

Cat’s in the Cradle

Ugly Kid Joe

Released: March 25, 1993

First Charted: February 5, 1993

Peak: 6 US, 9 CB, 6 GR, 9 RR, 3 AR, 7 UK, 11 AU, 11 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 49.0 video, 94.85 streaming

Awards (Harry Chapin):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Ugly Kid Joe):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Harry Chapin was rock’s master storyteller. His songs were narrative prose set to music.” FB He said his songs were “stories of oridinary people and cosmic moments in their non-cosmic lives.” FB However, the lyrics for “Cat’s in the Cradle” – his best-known hit – were written by his wife Sandra. He claimed she wrote the “four minute musical guilt trip” SG “to ‘zap’ him” SG but she actually wrote it about her first husband, James Cashmore, and his difficult relationship with his father. Harry didn’t write accompanying music for the song until about a year later – after he missed the birth of his son because he was on the road. It also let him deal with his own feelings about his father, a jazz drummer, who was often on the road as well. SG

“Cat’s in the Cradle” “boils all the complexities of parenthood to the question of whether or not the dad is physically or mentally present. It has a big tearjerking coda about how the adult kid doesn’t have any time to spend with his father…His new job’s a hassle! The kid’s got the flu!” SG The power of the song is how “it hits you in the gut at the right moment…and turn you into a shuddering feelings-puddle.” SG It “doesn’t have all the layers of some of other Chapin’s songs. That’s fine. It sacrifices those layers for pure throat-lump effectiveness.” SG

“Chapin’s got a declarative sing-speaking style, and he slowly tweaks it as the song builds, moving deliberately from distant wonder at his kid’s birth to heavy-hearted intensity. He never overplays any of the song’s big moments. When he reaches his big tearjerking finale – ‘My boy was just like me’ – he could go for high drama. Instead, he holds back, almost murmuring that line to himself, letting the words do the work.” SG

“Musically, ‘Cat’s in the Cradle’ is an assured piece of ’70s folk-rock. Those lyrics demand so much attention that it’s easy to neglect all the subtle little flourishes in the arrangement…the vaguely Eastern string-figure, the weirdly catchy electric-sitar riff, the bass that wells up at the exact right moment.” SG

The hair-metal band Ugly Kid Joe covered the song in 1993 and it reached #6. While the idea sounds cringe-worthy, it actually worked pretty well, largely because the band were faithful to the song and didn’t butcher it. It ended up introducing a whole new generation to the age-old father-son guilt dynamic.


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Harry Chapin
  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Ugly Kid Joe
  • FB Fred Bronson (2007). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (4th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 386.
  • SG Stereogum (6/18/2019). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 7/25/2022; last updated 12/27/2022.

Saturday, December 7, 1974

Styx “Lady” charted



Writer(s): Dennis DeYoung (see lyrics here)

Released: September 1973

First Charted: December 7, 1974

Peak: 6 BB, 6 CB, 3 GR, 7 HR, 7 RR, 5 CL, 19 CN, 23 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 20.6 video, 29.04 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Styx formed in 1972 in Chicago, Illinois. The band became arguably the biggest stadium rockers of the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, but their beginnings were rather humble. The original lineup consisted of singer and keyboardist Dennis DeYoung, guitarist James “J.Y.” Young, guitarist John Curulewski, bassist Chuck Panozzo, and drummer John Panozzo.

The quartet released four albums with Wooden Nickel that showed no indication of where this band would go. In 1974, however, their fortunes changed thanks to the power ballad “Lady.” The song, which first appeared on Styx II, was originally released as a single in September 1973. At the time it became a local hit in Chicago, but was ignored elsewhere.

However, Jim Smith, a DJ on Chicago station WLS, heard the song on a jukebox in a Chicago pizza place. He convinced the management at his radio station to let him play the song. His show had audiences in 38 states and even some foreign countries. WK The new-found attention launched “Lady” into the national spotlight and a re-release sent it up the charts where it peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Dennis DeYoung has stated this was the first song he wrote for his wife, Suzanne. He wrote the song in 1972 but the record company rejected it for Styx’s first album. SF When the band recorded it for their second album, DeYoung performed it on an acoustic piano although he’d originally written it on electric piano. He preferred the acoustic sound. WK DeYoung has said radio stations were unsure how to classify the song because it started slow and then picked up. SF The Detroit Metro Times called it “the first true power ballad.” MT


Related Links:

First posted 2/14/2024.

Thursday, December 5, 1974

Yes Relayer released



Released: December 5, 1974

Peak: 5 US, 4 UK, 22 CN, 15 AU

Sales (in millions): 0.5 US

Genre: progressive rock


Song Title [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Gates of Delirium [21:55] (7/1/75, “Soon” – excerpt, --)
  2. Sound Chaser [9:25]
  3. To Be Over [9:08]

All tracks written by Yes.

Total Running Time: 40:09

The Players:

  • Jon Anderson (vocals, acoustic guitar, piccolo, percussion)
  • Steve Howe (guitar, sitar, backing vocals)
  • Chris Squire (bass, backing vocals)
  • Patrick Moraz (keyboards)
  • Alan White (drums, percussion)


3.433 out of 5.00 (average of 9 ratings)

Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

Relayer was the seventh studio album from Yes and the only one to feature Patrick Moraz on keyboards, replacing Rick Wakeman who left after Tales from Topographic Oceans to pursue a solo career. Greek keyboardist Vangelis (later of “Chariots of Fire” fame) was a close contender for the job and later collaborated with Jon Anderson on several albums.

Yes had fallen out of critical favor with Tales from Topographic Oceans, a two-record set of four songs that reviewers found indulgent,” WR but it was still a commercial success so the band “had little incentive to curb their musical ambitiousness.” WR “Critics continued to complain about the lack of concise, coherent song structures,” WR but Relayer still made the top 10 and was a gold seller.

The group did actually trim from Tales, going back to a single-disc album format. The three long songs that comprised the album made this feel more like a cousin to 1972’s Close to the Edge with “a long epic on the first side, and two nine-minute pieces on the second.” WK

However, Relayer “employs a radically different musical style” WK from that album. The “music [is] organized into suites that alternated abrasive, rhythmically dense instrumental sections featuring solos for the various instruments with delicate vocal and choral sections featuring poetic lyrics devoted to spiritual imagery. Such compositions seemed intended to provide an interesting musical landscape over which the listener might travel.” WR

The Gates of Delirium is is a dense, 22-minute piece that was inspired by Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace,” WK not exactly a work known for brevity itself. “It features lyrics about the futility of war and a lengthy instrumental middle section portraying ‘battle’ with galloping rhythms, martial melodies, dissonant harmonies, and clashing sound effects . The final section, in which the drive of the previous sixteen minutes is suddenly replaced by a gentle melody and a lyrical prayer for peace, was released as a U.S. single under the title Soon.”

Sound Chaser is a jazzy, mostly instrumental piece that echoes the then-popular jazz fusion of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return To Forever. To Be Over, the gentlest piece on the album, features complex, melodic arrangements of guitar and electric sitar (at one point quoting a theme from Tales from Topographic Oceans), and arguably features Jon Anderson’s most straightforward lyrics since the band's second album, Time and a Word.” WK

Notes: The 2003 reissue added a studio run-through of “The Gates of Delirium” as well as single versions of “Soon” and “Sound Chaser.”

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 6/7/2011; updated 7/24/2021.