I am so grateful that I discovered Harry Chapin in time to experience his presence before his tragic death. I had heard Taxi, Cat’s Cradle and I Want to Learn a Love Song and I was mildly fond of them, when one day, on impulse I bought Greatest Stories Live.

I wore that tape out, and had to buy another one in a few months. Then I started to collect the other albums. I never managed to find them all, and after his death, I stopped trying because I didn’t want to have to go the rest of my life without ever hearing another Harry Chapin song for the first time.

Harry played at Pine Knob in Detroit every summer, and I saw him the last 3 summers before he died. Every year, I invited people who had never seen him play to go with me, and every year our group got larger, as everyone who had been in previous years wanted to go every year. It was such a great joy to see unsuspecting people so moved by Harry’s power.

My great regret is that I always let myself get talked into leaving after the concert, always believing that I could go back next year and buy a poetry book and tell Harry how much I admired him, and maybe shake his hand.

Today, I am a Youth Services Librarian, and one of the things I do is storytelling, and many of Harry’s stories are perfect for oral storytelling. The youngest school age children understand and appreciate Flowers are Red.

The most hardened cynical teenagers are moved by What Made America Famous and The Shortest Story. Mr. Tanner, music was HIS LIFE, what a lesson in that story for anybody who will never be the best at what they love to do. A Better Place to Be, that’s a whole different story in the age of deadly STD’s. Sniper, Taxi, Love Song … I want Harry’s fans to know that even today’s kids who never heard of Harry are still being influenced by his work.

I want to thank all the other people whose stories are on this page.

Harry touched me in ways that I had never otherwise been touched. Reading your stories and sharing that feeling with you all is the closest to being touched by Harry that I have experienced since God took Harry to tour in Heaven.

Gordon Riley…….gdriley at hotmail.com

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