I didn’t actually know Harry Chapin or grow up with him. I was, however, lucky enough to have parents that listened to Harry while I was growing up. They found Harry’s music around 1977, when I was 10 years old. Some of the fondest memories of my childhood are laying on the floor in our family room on lazy Sundays listening to Harry’s music while my Mom and Dad read the paper. I would read the words in the album sleeves (yes, they were albums back then) while Harry sang them. I knew every song from “Greatest Stories Live” by heart (and still do).
My parents took my brother and I to see Harry in concert two times in ’78 and ’79. Once was at the old Leroy theater in Providence, RI. The other was at the Jai Lai fonton in Newport, RI. Even as an 11 year old, I remember being completely moved by the energy and emotion that Harry brought to every song he sang. And of course, getting to yell “Harry, it sucks” and not getting in trouble for it was a thrill that any kid back then could relate to.
I remember the day that Harry died. I happened to turn on the TV in my parent’s family room and there it was on the news. I was still only a kid but I grew a little older that day realizing that someone that I had felt so close to had been taken away. Thinking back on it now, it was the first real loss I had experienced in my life.
I was married three years ago. I planned for the last song at our reception to be “Circle” because it has such a beautiful take on life. At the end of the night, the most touching thing happened. When “Circle” came on, every person at our reception (about 60 – we had a small wedding) formed a circle on the dance floor and held hands. Those who knew the song sang it. Those who didn’t just shared in it’s joy. In that moment it didn’t matter if you knew the words. We were all feeling the love that Harry was all about. That remains one of the greatest memories of my life.
I’m 36 years old now. Harry’s music has stayed with me my entire life. I’ve had the pleasure of introducing many people to Harry’s music over the years.
My first child (a son) is due in June of this year. I am really looking forward to teaching him about Harry – the songs and the man. I want him to have the same opportunity I did to grow up with Harry’s music.
I’m sorry this story ended up being so long but I guess it’s like Harry’s songs were. It didn’t matter that they were often too long for conventional radio. It was the content and emotion that mattered.
Harry meant the world to me as I grew up. He still does. Thanks for giving the the chance to share my story.
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