C is for Harry Chapin

Sunday 22nd July

‘Oh not another music blog’ do I hear you groan.  Well, yes, but this one is different.  As you know my record collection is wide and esoteric, my ambition (still unfulfilled) is to own every piece of recorded music, or at least that which I consider essential.  And what could be more essential than the honesty of Harry Chapin.  Harry was a most unlikely success story, and possibly only in the seventies, when record companies were willing to give time and space to anyone who appeared to have talent, would Harry have made it.  Not that he ever wanted success at all, except as a vehicle to engage with people and to make them think about the world, and how we live.  From the personal songs like Taxi, where Harry picks up an old sweetheart in his cab who always wanted to be an actress ‘And I hear she’s acting happy, inside her handsome home, and me, I’m flying in my taxi, taking tips and getting stoned,’ to the story-songs like Mr. Tanner the drycleaner who wanted to be an opera singer, and ‘Sniper’ about the desperate loneliness than has driven a young man to murder.  But through it all was a deep social conscience and understanding of the important things in life.  He campaigned tirelessly for solutions to world hunger, and gave away almost all his money to charity as fast as he made it.  His life was cut short by a tragic car crash in 1981.  I am not sure if he could ever be included as one of the all-time greats as a singer, but as a selfless and honest man he is second to none.