Fred Penner on The Cat Came Back
New verses reinvented the song, but it dates back to 1893
The Cat Came Back may be one of Fred Penner's best-known songs, but it's not entirely his.
"I didn't write it. I have to dispel that rumour," Penner told CBC interviewer Peter Downie in 1985. "I hate to do it on national television."
It all began with Kornstock
Penner got his start in the 1970s with three other musicians in a band called called Kornstock but soon branched out on his own, releasing his first album in 1980. (Two of the other three, Bob King and Al Simmons, also had solo careers after Kornstock.)
Five years later, the Winnipeg musician's album count was up to four, and he had a new show, Fred Penner's Place, on CBC-TV.
As he discussed on Midday, he had a theory for why so many children's musicians of the era — Raffi and Sharon, Lois and Bram — were successful compared with their American counterparts.
"The whole American ethic is to take an idea and build it as big as possible," Penner said. "They don't have the grassroots people going into communities ... because nobody has ever done that, they've never gone into a community to sing for their children."