Unfortunately Harry was gone by the time I discovered him, but once I did, I would listen to everyone I could tell me what he was like in concert, as a friend, or how they were simply touched by him and his stories.
I was a disc jockey at Kent State University and we were billed as a classic rock station (even though we played what we wanted) and I chose the name “A Better Place To Be.” I chose it because every week I would play a Harry Chapin song and every week we would discuss the immense kindness of the man.
I loved, and still do, the raw stories that he could play. I listened to the “stories behind the stories” and relished in all that I could when it came to hearing about Harry.
One day at a Cleveland bar I got to see a slice of Harry when his band including John Wallace came to Cleveland. I sat mesmerized while songs that I had only heard on record came alive. I did not want the night to end. I went the next night, the only two nights they were there.
Today I still play Harry’s work, talk about him as a high school teacher, and am now the “first high school storytelling teacher in the country, according to the National Storytelling Association.” I have helped start storytelling youth groups across the country.
I have watched thousands of stories told by teens and younger. However, all credit needs to be given to Harry for “remember when the music (and the stories) came from….Now they are being heard again. All because of a man who had the audacity to tell it again and again and again.
Thanks Harry, I know we are all anxious to spread the word.
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