I remember driving in my car during the summer of 1981 and hearing a traffic report mentioning a bad accident that closed the LIE. I thought nothing of it other than another terrible accident. On another station an hour later I made the connection as they announced that Harry Chapin had died in a car crash on the LIE. I remember pulling over to the side of the road and crying.
I didn’t know Harry, although I had the pleasure of working with Tom years later on a television program, but anyone that knew Harry’s music, knew Harry. I had a few of Harry’s albums on cassette as a kid. Sure there was Taxi but also the other greats like 30,000 pounds of bananas and all the rest that got no airplay but that touched my heart. Harry had a way of finding words that I think everyone could relate to, everyone could experience. It’s an incredible gift to be such a storyteller, and Harry Chapin was the best of the best.
I’ve always thought that the brighter the light, the shorter it would burn before being extinguished. There is something about Harry’s early demise that seems to make sense as a result. I knew him as a person who gave more than anyone and made a lot of people mad along the way because he gave too much. I know he gave me some great laughs, and helped me to shed some tears.
In the past decade of my life, Harry’s music hasn’t been in the forefront of my day, but on occasion I always took a break when one of his songs came on the radio. Then the other day a chain of events brought Harry back into my life. I was driving my car listening to Sirius and WOLD came on. Wow! I haven’t heard that song for years. And I suddenly felt like a drug addict who had long kicked a drug only to get a taste of it again. And a few days later a friend suddenly started asking me if I knew the song Cats in the Cradle. Seems he never really listened to the lyrics, but once he did, it created a new awareness in him. Harry’s bright light still affects people it seems.
I just spent the morning reliving all of Harry’s music and once again the pain of his death has me in tears. What a loss for all of us, whether we knew him or not, and what a gift he gave us.
I’ve suddenly realized how much I want to help my fellow man. Guess Harry still lives in me and all of use really… Thanks Harry for the gift!
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