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   - Harry Chapin

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Home > Music > Dirt Gets Under the Fingernails

Dirt Gets Under the Fingernails
by Harry Chapin

Now he was a man who worked with his hands
Only in a motor he found peace
He could make an engine sing like a bird
He could find his only lind of release
When he was up to the elbows in the grease.


She dreamed of a time for painting
As she was cleaning up his stains from the rug
She'd play all day with their children
And try to meet him with a welcome and hug
As he came shuffling through the house with a shrug


I tell you dirt gets under the fingernails
And hate gets under the skin
But a dream got a way of getting down to the bone
and the heart of a body that it's in.


While he was making magic with his piston machines
She was cleaning up the mess he'd left behind.
She was trying to make it through to the end of the day
With a little empty time
And do the painting that meant peace of mind.


I tell you dirt gets under the fingernails
And hate gets under the skin
But a dream got a way of getting down to the bone
and the heart of a body that it's in.


Well one day she didn't bother 'bout making his bed.
She hurried all the children out the door.
And she let the bills and the marketing go.
And she went and almost bought out an art supply store.


It just so happened that day he got to thinking.
Of the grease that always covered up his skin.
So he left the garage a little early
He got a shave and a manicure and trim
Came out clean as a plaster maniquin.


He came home in a hurry
But he almost didn't recognize the place.
It looked like it'd been hit by a hurricane.
There was canvas filling every open space.
And she had paint all over her face.


I tell you dirt gets under the fingernails
And hate gets under the skin
But a dream got a way of getting down to the bone
and the heart of a body that it's in.


They both stood stunned into silence
Then their laughter exploded like a shout
And he went out to make some magic in the kitchen
The clean man learning what cooking was about.
And the dirty girl painting her messy heart out.


I tell you dirt gets under the fingernails
And hate gets under the skin
But a dream got a way of getting down to the bone
and the heart of a body that it's in.


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"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
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Chapin Music
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Cotton Patch Gospel
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Dance Band On The Titanic*
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Essentials
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Gold Medal Collection
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Greatest Stories Live*
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Harry Chapin Tribute
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Last Protest Singer
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Legends Of Lost & Found*
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Living Room Suite
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On The Road To Kingdom Come
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Portrait Gallery
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Sequel
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Short Stories
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Sniper & Other Love Songs
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Songwriter
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Story of a Life
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The Latest Release

Sniper & Other Love Songs

 
[iTunes]

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!