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Home > Music > I Miss America

I Miss America
by Harry Chapin

By the time I was thirteen
I started taking shape.
At eighteen I was so beautiful
That the strangers started to gape.
They said "Enter the ultimate contest
If you're as gorgeous as you seem."
They said "Please, please, please
Be our American dream."
But late that night beneath the grieving moon
There's a dazzling sight in my motel room
For a grunting judge with his bulging eyes
I give my all for his cherished prize.

Oh why, oh why?
I'm Miss America
Crying on TV
Silver clad in satin rags,
But everything's where it should be
Oh say can you see, ah say can you see.

After they showed me the game ball
They told me put on weight.
They told me I'd be powerful
They told me I'd be great.
And my Uncle Sam he would coach me
His helmet on my head
And they said "Please, please please, please
Please win and beat the spread."
But the new game plan that the owners had made
Meant that win or lose there would be a trade.
For the team's become a real gold mine
And the kid's sold off for the bottom line.

Oh why, oh why?
Mr. America
Sweating on TV
The winner's joy from the battered boy
For everything's where it should be
Oh say can you see, ah say can you see.

At last we've come together
Call it marriage or civil war.
If it brings us to battle, babe
It must be worth our fighting for.
Though today came up cloudy
There will be other days.
"Ah, please, please, please, please
What else is there to say?"
But in plywood spread
By a plastic stream
And in separate beds with a borrowed dream
And with questions wide and the silence deep
We take two pills so at last we'll sleep.

Oh why, oh why?
Mr. and Mrs. America
Our story's on TV
Can you hear canned laughter
For everything's where it should be
Oh say can you see, ah say can you see.

Well, my little boy he told me something
Just the other night.
He whispered it as I kissed him
Before I turned out the light.
And of course he said it simple
As only children can
He said "Daddy, daddy, daddy, please
I'm ready to dream again."

Layout, design, images, and user-contributed text are © Copyright 1996-2017 The Harry Chapin Archive.

"Oh, if a man tried to take his time on earth and prove before he died what one man's life could be worth, I wonder what would happen to this world?" -- Harry Chapin, 1942-1981.



Harry's Music
Bottom Line Encore Collection
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Chapin Music
Cotton Patch Gospel
Dance Band On The Titanic*
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Gold Medal Collection
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Greatest Stories Live*
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Harry Chapin Tribute
Heads & Tales
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Last Protest Singer
Legends Of Lost & Found*
Living Room Suite
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
On The Road To Kingdom Come
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Portrait Gallery
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Short Stories
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Sniper & Other Love Songs
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
Story of a Life
Verities & Balderdash
      [Amazon] [iTunes]

* = Highly Recommended

The Latest Release

Sniper & Other Love Songs


In 1972, Harry released Sniper & Other Love Songs. Thirty years would pass before the album would ever reach the CD format. Sniper was finally re-released in June, 2002.

Originally given a working title of Sweet City Suite, the album tells the story of various characters one might run into in a city. The album features the original studio versions of Chapin classics "A Better Place to Be" and "Circle." But perhaps more importantly (as those songs are already well-distributed on compilation CDs), the album features seemingly lost Chapin stories, including "And the Baby Never Cries," "Burning Herself," "Barefoot Boy," and "Woman Child."

Sniper is for the seasoned Chapin fan. New fans would do better to check out Greatest Stories Live. But for Chapin fans who have reached the level of the Dance Band on the Titanic album, this is the next step. Slightly over-produced and having a little of the "forced" feel that some of Harry's studio albums possess, this album does not capture the powerfully live Harry Chapin. Nonetheless, it captures Harry's great iconoclastic songwriting--Harry takes the story song to new heights here. But the album works best for those ready for it; don't buy it until you are ready to appreciate it!