Caulfield South, 2014
I’m driving my son to his mate’s house and he’s flicking through stations on the car radio, trying to find a decent pop song to listen to – something that doesn’t sound like it was composed using sampled microwave keypad beeps. Something that doesn’t have lyrics that rhyme the word “girl” with “world”, and the word “ohhhhhhhh” with both “whoaahhhhh and “youza ho”.
Then he’s accidentally flicked onto a golden oldies station. He’s keen to flick off, but I tell him to wait a sec. A song I know is playing…
And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon….
Cats in the Cradle. The Harry Chapin song that makes grown men knot-up around the neck-muscle, that makes rugged blokes seep from the eyeball-glands, that makes dads and sons everywhere do that stifled painful ACHHH ACHHH throat-noise like they just bit into a cardamon pod.
Instantly I’ve got that cardamon-burn in the throat, eyes misting up. I turn to my boy and say “Do you know what this song’s about? It’s an incredible song about a dad who’s always too busy to hang out with his son, then time passes and when he’s old, he finds his son is too busy to hang out with him, and it’s got this killer punchline where the dad sings “He’d grown