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