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Home > Stories > A Better Person

ME|Here's a question for discussion: How has Harry's work made you a better ME|person? Which songs affected you, and in what way?

Well, you asked .... this will be a *long* (perhaps, boring) response.

My background: I'm 50 years old and the first song of Harry I heard was Taxi. This was while I was driving in my car one summer night ('72?, '73?). It was on a station I could barely get on my car radio. As I had worked my way through university in the late 60's by driving cab, the song caught my attention. But, I did not catch the name of the singer. Harry somebody.....

As it turned out, I was watching Johnny Carson one night shortly thereafter when this guy comes out and sings WOLD and Taxi! Bingo. Went out the next day to buy his album. Discovered that he had two (then). Bought them both and played them over & over & etc...

That fall, Harry made an appearance in Toronto. Went to the show and was knocked out (and over). Maybe, 'mesmerized' by his concert.

Over the years, I saw Harry live 25 or 30 times. Got so that when a Harry Chapin Concert was announced for Toronto, I would phone his promoter and get front row seats.

Once drove to Niagara Falls, NY from Toronto just to pick up a new album (they were released in the States 3-4 weeks prior to release in Canada) and turned around & drove home.

Once drove to New York City from Toronto on a Friday, stayed over Friday night, saw Harry in his broadway show in a Saturday matinee ... and immediately drove back home.

Once, when Harry (and his brothers) were in Toronto for a concert, looked up the address of his step-grandmother (whom I knew lived in Toronto. She married his grandfather (or was it his uncle?) James, who was, apparently quite a well known American painter prior to his move to Toronto.) Anyway, introduced myself as a fan of Harry and wondered if she knew what hotel the boys were staying at. She replied that the boys were staying at her house and would I like to come over after the concert to meet him!

We did of course and, as a token of her graciousness for the invitation to my party, I had flowers sent to her house that day. Well, when Harry, Tom and Steve showed up about a half hour after the show, Mary introduced Harry to me. I told him how pleased I was to finally meet him and he replied something to the effect that on the contrary, it was he who was looking forward to meeting a fan nice enough to have sent flowers. We had a pleasant chat for a few minutes (others were waiting to meet him, too). I was euphoric!

I was on vacation when Harry died. Found out about it when I got back home when, in a conversation with my late mother, she said, "Too bad what happened about Harry Chapin a few days ago." I was in shock. I wept, as I remember.

What songs affected me. All to an extent. Have all the albums of course (even the Chapin Brothers album ). Play them often. I guess Taxi, Greyhound and Sniper (his performance of that song in his broadway show, The Night that Made America Famous, was awesome) still get to me the most.

Thanks for twigging good memories with your post. Sorry for the rambling.

Oh yes, how has he affected me? Well, I do believe "it's got to be the going ... not the getting there ... that's good" [Greyhound] is not a bad adage to live by.



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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
      [Amazon] [iTunes]
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!