Harry Chapin is one of the all-time great singer-songwriters who died way too young. One of my first blog posts five years ago ever was about Harry, and it remains one of my favorite posts. If you don’t know much about Harry, that post can get you up to speed.
It was my future wife who introduced me to the music of Harry, and we were lucky enough to see him in concert. The highlight of the show, at least for my wife, was getting a kiss from Harry after the performance. If cell phones were around back then, I’m sure that moment would still be her profile picture on social media 40 years later.
I’m writing about Harry again because I came across a set of videos of intimate performances Harry gave at the Soundstage. One of the videos was a brief Q&A session Harry had with the audience.
In the video, Harry talks about how much of him is in the songs, the importance of taking risks, and his love of writing and performing. I think one of the interesting items to note during the interview is catchi!ng a couple of the band members smoking on stage. I don’t think you’d see this today!
And if you don’t know any of Harry’s music, here are some of his classics, from his performance at the PBS Soundstage in 1975. By the way, many of Harry’s songs are referred to as stories, and they tend to be a bit longer than traditional songs.
Heres the one that got things started, Taxi:
Mail Order Annie:
Showing some of his humor in Six-String Orchestra:
the classic Mr. Tanner, including band intros:
and I’ll close with another one of his most well-known songs, Cat’s in the Cradle:
But perhaps even better than Harry’s music was his commitment to social causes, particularly World Hunger. He was known for playing “one night for himself, and one night for the other guy”, giving half of his concert proceeds to causes that were important to him.
We need more people like Harry, and as Bruce Springsteen says in a tribute concert to Harry, “Do something, and may his song be sung.”
*image from Ultimate Classic Rock