I found Harry Chapin during adolescence. Quite by accident, after hearing Taxi, I bought one of his albums and so began my life with him and his songs and the guys in the band. I went to one, then two , then a third concert of his and each was a memory I will cherish. Each an evening that was special beyond words. There is no way to describe the closeness one feels a part of at one of Harry’s shows. Like each and every person in that room is a special part of an elite club..for the evening, and Harry the one throwing the party.
It was the third show I attended at the Gusman Cultural Center in the Miami area, that was the most special. GCC used to be an old theatre..one of those grand old places…once deserted now converted. It lent itself to intimacy and great acoustics, and I remember being so excited about the show…I took a greyhound from Palm Beach County to Miami, where a friend picked me up.
I was only 16… We arrived and the show was outstanding as always..we had great seats. I remember Harry stepping down onto the floor…with the audience and singing “Mail Order Annie”. After the show, as the crowds were emptying out..my friend..a D.J. for the local pop station grabbed my hand and pulled me over behind him to the stage…”C’Mon Deb..let’s go backstage..” and before I could protest I was ON the stage and following him behind the curtains. Harry was packing up his guitar…saying hello to a few folks…my friend stepped forward and introduced himself and said “Harry..I want you to meet one of your BIGGEST fans….she rode for 3 hours on a bus to see you tonight!”
I remember the way he smiled at me…took my hand..said hello…and thanked me for enduring that 3 hour bus ride !!*g* He was charming..of course…and I was speechless!! Being 16 and faced with my idol. After stuttering hello I was almost relieved actually, to be leaving the theatre….gee…I could have thought of SOMETHING to say..right?!
We were standing on the corner just outside The Center waiting for the traffic to let us across and a voice said ” Hey…can you guys tell me where I can get a taxi?” I couldn’t believe it…Harry Chapin was asking for ….a taxi??!! Ha! I cracked up and turned around and sure enough..there he stood with a bottle of wine..a bouquet of flowers and his guitar. Someone had brought the wine and flowers and he was taking them back to Sandy at the hotel, he told us. My friend..quick thinking guy he was immediately asked where he was staying, and told him..”It’s on our way..if you’d like a ride”. A part of me died and went to heaven that night. Meeting your idol is one thing….having him sitting in the back of your car is another…and as we rode..they talked..and I watched..and listened..and exchanged smiles As we drove away from the hotel he waved and yelled thanks… and I never saw him again.
I still hear him. I see him..always…when I listen to the words…they take me back to those nights and I see the crowds and I hear the laughter and I feel the closeness of that elite group…and I feel a terrible loss.
Harry…. I have been inspired by your words..and so now I write… I was inspired by your love for music ….and so now I sing….I was inspired by your guys in the band..and so now I play bass….I am inspired by what you set out to do..and so now….I set out to make a difference..wherever I can. I do this for all the joy you brought us…..I do this because the joy should be shared….and the circle widened…. until everyone is a part of it. If just “one man” could inspire so much…. what might “one more” be able to do?
I can’t wait to find out.
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