Cats In The Cradle chords

by Harry Chapin

Cats In The Cradle was written by Harry Chapin and his wife Sandra Chapin. They recorded the song in 1973 and released it in 1974 from the album Verities & Balderdash.
Music: Key of F Major in 4/4 at 76 bpm (♩)
Chords: F, Cm, Cm/F, B♭, D♭, E♭, E♭/D, A♭, A♭/G
Easier - Capo on 1st fret: Play in E Major
Chords with capo: E, Bm, Bm/E, A, C, D, D/C#, G, G/F#
Harry Chapin

Cats In The Cradle by Harry Chapin

Capo on the 1st fret if playing with the video

Intro: 4/4             2/4    4/4
     |  E  |  E  |  E  |  Bm  |   E  |  E  |  E  -  Bm  |  E  |  

        E                     G
1. My child ar-rived just the o-ther day
       D                       E
   He came to the world in the u-su-al way
                   E                   G
   But there are planes to catch and bills to pay
  D                            E
   He learned to walk while I was a-way
               D               D/C#           Bm         Bm/A
   And he was tal-king 'fore I knew it___ And as he grew he'd say
  G          G/F#      E              G             G/F#      E  |  E  |
   I'm gon-na be like you dad___ You know I'm gon-na be like you

                 E                           D
Chorus: And the cats in the cra-dle and the sil-ver spoon 
         G                        A
        Lit-tle boy blue and the man on the moon
         E                             D
        When you co-ming home dad?  I don't know when
              G         G/F#      E            G                G/F#       E   
        But we'll get to-ge-ther then____ You know we'll have a good time then

Instr:                       2/4      4/4
     |   E   |   E   |   E   |   Bm   |   E   |   E   |

       E                      G
2. My son turned ten just the o-ther day
             D                          E
   He said thanks for the ball dad come on let's play
             E                          G
   Can you teach me to throw___ I said not today 
            D                     E
   I got a lot to do___ He said that's okay
            D            D/C#         Bm          Bm/A
   And then  he walked a-way but his smile never dimmed and said
  G          G/F#      E               G             G/F#      E  |  E  |
   I'm gon-na be like him yeah___ You know I'm gon-na be like him
    
                 E                           D
Chorus: And the cats in the cra-dle and the sil-ver spoon 
         G                        A
        Lit-tle boy blue and the man on the moon
         E                             D
        When you co-ming home dad?  I don't know when
              G         G/F#      E            G                G/F#       E
        But we'll get to-ge-ther then____ You know we'll have a good time then

Instr:                       2/4      4/4
     |   E   |   E   |   E   |   Bm   |   E   |   E   |

            E                         G
3. Well he came from college just the o-ther day
       D                      E
   So much like a man I just had to say
             E                   G
   Son I'm proud of you can you sit for a while
        D                      E
   He shook his head and then said with a smile
             D           D/C#      Bm         Bm/A
   What I'd real-ly like dad is to bor-row the car keys
  G                      E              |  E  |
   See you la-ter can I have them please

                 E                           D
Chorus: And the cats in the cra-dle and the sil-ver spoon 
         G                        A
        Lit-tle boy blue and the man on the moon
         E                             D
        When you co-ming home son?  I don't know when
              G         G/F#      E               G                G/F#       E
        But we'll get to-ge-ther then dad___ You know we'll have a good time then

Bridge: 
      |  C  | Bm  - D  |  E  |  E  |  C  | Bm  - D  |  E  |  E  |  E  |  E  |

         E                      G
4. I've long since re-tired my son's moved away
  D                         E        |  E  |
   I called him up just the o-ther day 
               E                  G
   I said I'd like to see you if you don't mind
                D                    E          |  E  |
   He said I'd love to dad if I can find the time
               D         D/C#            Bm            Bm/A
   You see my new jobs a has-sle and the kids have the flu
             G        G/F#         E
   But it's sure nice tal-kin' to you dad
              G        G/F#         E   |  E  |
   It's been sure nice tal-kin' to you

             D          D/C#          Bm      Bm/A
   And as I hung up the phone it oc-curred to me
G G/F# E G G/F# E | E | He'd grown up just like me___ My boy was just like me E D Chorus: And the cats in the cra-dle and the sil-ver spoon G A Lit-tle boy blue and the man on the moon E D When you co-ming home son? I don't know when G G/F# E G G/F# E But we'll get to-ge-ther then dad___ We're gon-na have a good time then Outro: 2/4 4/4 Fermata Symbol | E | E | E | Bm | E |

E Major

Fingers 1, 2, 3, 4 : Notes played
A column of 1's: Barre 1st finger over marked strings
Unmarked strings: Play open 
x: Don't play string

Right-Handed Chord Tabs   
            E                  Bm                 Bm/A                  A                   C 
    e |---|---|---|     e |-1-|---|---|     e |-1-|---|---|     e |---|---|---|     e |---|---|---|
    B |---|---|---|     B |-1-|-2-|---|     B |---|-2-|---|     B |---|-3-|---|     B |-1-|---|---|
    G |-1-|---|---|     G |-1-|---|-4-|     G |---|---|-4-|     G |---|-2-|---|     G |---|---|---|
    D |---|-3-|---|     D |-1-|---|-3-|     D |---|---|-3-|     D |---|-1-|---|     D |---|-2-|---|
    A |---|-2-|---|     A |-1-|---|---|     A |---|---|---|     A |---|---|---|     A |---|---|-3-|
    E |---|---|---|     E |---|---|---|     E |---|---|---|x    E |---|---|---|x    E |---|---|---|x
Frets   1   2   3           2   3   4           2   3   4           1   2   3           1   2   3  

            D                    D/C#                   G                  G/F#
    e |---|-2-|---|     e |---|-2-|---|---|     e |---|---|-3-|     e |---|---|-3-|
    B |---|---|-3-|     B |---|---|-3-|---|     B |---|---|---|     B |---|---|---|
    G |---|-1-|---|     G |---|-1-|---|---|     G |---|---|---|     G |---|---|---|
    D |---|---|---|     D |---|---|---|---|     D |---|---|---|     D |---|---|---|
    A |---|---|---|x    A |---|---|---|-4-|     A |---|-1-|---|     A |---|-1-|---|
    E |---|---|---|x    E |---|---|---|---|x    E |---|---|-2-|     E |---|-1-|---|
Frets   1   2   3           1   2   3   4           1   2   3           1   2   3 

Left-Handed Chord Tabs 
          E                  Bm                 Bm/A                  A                   C
    |---|---|---| e     |---|---|-1-| e     |---|---|-1-| e     |---|---|---| e     |---|---|---| e
    |---|---|---| B     |---|-2-|-1-| B     |---|-2-|---| B     |---|-3-|---| B     |---|---|-1-| B
    |---|---|-1-| G     |-4-|---|-1-| G     |-4-|---|---| G     |---|-2-|---| G     |---|---|---| G
    |---|-3-|---| D     |-3-|---|-1-| D     |-3-|---|---| D     |---|-1-|---| D     |---|-2-|---| D
    |---|-2-|---| A     |---|---|-1-| A     |---|---|---| A     |---|---|---| A     |-3-|---|---| A
    |---|---|---| E     |---|---|---| E    x|---|---|---| E    x|---|---|---| E    x|---|---|---| E
      3   2   1           4   3   2           4   3   2           3   2   1           3   2   1   Frets
      
          D                    D/C#                   G                  G/F#
    |---|-2-|---| e     |---|---|-2-|---| e     |-3-|---|---| e     |-3-|---|---| e
    |-3-|---|---| B     |---|-3-|---|---| B     |---|---|---| B     |---|---|---| B
    |---|-1-|---| G     |---|---|-1-|---| G     |---|---|---| G     |---|---|---| G
    |---|---|---| D     |---|---|---|---| D     |---|---|---| D     |---|---|---| D
   x|---|---|---| A     |-4-|---|---|---| A     |---|-1-|---| A     |---|-1-|---| A
   x|---|---|---| E    x|---|---|---|---| E     |-2-|---|---| E     |---|-1-|---| E
      3   2   1           4   3   2   1           3   2   1           3   2   1   Frets

Notes

  • The song is pretty straightforward once you get the run of chords with bass notes under your belt. The bass note is the chord following the forward slash, therefore D/C# means a D chord leading with a C# bass note, etc. The following is verse 1 with the chords for each line:
    Line 1: | E | G | D | E |
    Line 2: | E | G | D | E |
    Line 3: | D - D/C# | Bm - Bm/A |
    Line 4: | G - G/F# | E | G - G/F | E | E |
  • You don't have to play the bass notes, but if you are playing solo, it does add a nice touch... it's also a good exercise in playing bass notes with specific chords. If you do omit the bass note, just continue to play the main chord for that particular bar.
  • The last line of each chorus uses the same bass run as the last line of each verse
  • Verse 4 is slightly different with the addition of 2 extra lines which are basically a repeat of the previous 2 lines.
  • 2 chords separated by a hyphen means the beat count of the bar is shared evenly by the 2 chords, therefore you play 2 beats for each chord as the song is in 4/4 time, e.g., | D - D/C# | ... you play D for 2 beats and D/C# for 2 beats. If you don't play the bass notes, simply play D for the whole bar.
  • In a live version of the song Harry uses a Capo on the 7th fret and plays in the key of A major which audibly is the key of E major. He does this, so that he can pick out the 'signature' melody that runs through each insrumental section of the song including the intro and outro. If you want to try this, the key transposition is as follows:
Key: E Major E G A C D D/C# G G/F# Bm Bm/A
Capo on fret 7: AMajor A C D F G G/F# C C/B Em Em/D
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