Back in 1972 or 73, I was a Junior in a small-town high school. We had a young student teacher named Mr. Kolassa in our English Department; the first student teacher I’d ever experienced.
One sunny afternoon, Mr. Kolassa came into our classroom carrying an LP under his arm and a standard school-issue record player in his hand. He spoke to us that day in awed tones, as he told us of a concert he’d attended the prior evening. He spoke of a young singer (Harry Chapin) on a darkened stage, of stories of heartbreak and inspiration, of a giant of a man who sang falsetto, of a magical event. Then he opened the album, set the record on the player, placed the tone arm down, and just said, “Listen…”.
We heard guitar strings being plucked to resemble the sound of rain, then the words, “It was raining hard in Frisco…”, and we were transported. It was the first time any of us had heard Harry Chapin, and it changed the way I looked at music forever.
I don’t know what ever became of Mr. Kolassa after he finished his student teaching, but I know what happened to Harry. I hope Mr. Kolassa went on to share his vision of the world with other students.
I hope Harry Chapin will never be forgotten.
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