I first experienced Harry Chapin (I don’t believe that anyone just ‘meets’ Harry) on Oct. 10, 1976. I was a Freshman at the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, and a DJ on the campus AM station. I had heard only the too few songs of Harrys that were played on the radio at that time (Taxi, *W*O*L*D*, and, of course, Cats in the Cradle).
After that evening, I became a Harry Chapin fan for life, not only because of the music, which ranged from the intense ‘Sniper’ to the almost comically bittersweet ‘Dancing Boy’ complete with a dancing performance by Harry’s son, Josh, but also because of the ability that Harry had to make you believe that he was singing only to you.
The next day on my radio show, I drew the ire of our station manager by playing the album ‘Verities and Balderdash’ in its entirety. I kept playing at least 2 of Harry’s songs on every show for as long as I was there.
I managed to see Harry Chapin a couple more times in concert, the last time being July 30, 1980 (thanks for the dates, Howie) at the Club Casino in Hampton Beach, N.H. Harry was about an hour late as his plane had been delayed, but everyone waited for Harry and as he made his way to the stage, he told everyone that he was now prepared to ‘sing his ass off’, and proceeded to do just that for about two hours.
I remember standing in line to get Harry to autograph my program, and when I finally got to Harry, I gave him a donation for WHY. He autographed my program, shook my hand and said “thanks for coming out tonight and waiting around to see us” That struck me as totally amazing that a performer would thank a member of the audience for being there.
That program still hangs, framed, in my house, and reminds me of the things that are truly important. ( I still hear Cats in the Cradle whenever my sons want to play with dad even after a long day at work)
My oldest son once asked me who the man in the picture was, and I told him that he was a singer who often sang only to me.
This story is perhaps a bit like some of Harry’s songs-a bit too long, but having something that needed saying. Thanks for reading.
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