When I was in high school, this new song hit the radio called Cats in the Cradle. All my friends loved it, all our parents hated it. Go figure.
One day, a bunch of the guys were hanging around in the driveway at one guy’s house, when the song comes on. The guy turns it up, and a few minutes later, his father comes storming out of the house. He snaps off the radio, then turns to his son and says “if you ever play that song again, I’ll shove that radio up your a** sideways!”….So of course we all had to buy the record!
A couple of years later, I’m just starting to get into Harry’s music beyond that one song. I’m buying the records and listening to them at work on my tape player. A few more years pass, and I’m finally able to scrape together enough money for tickets to a concert, when along comes Harry.
I order tickets to a Harry Chapin show at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles. It’s late in 1970’s. There’s this girl I like, name of Linda, so I ask her if she’d like to go with me to the show. She would, so off we go.
Harry plays a great show. Linda keeps giving me funny looks because I know the words to almost all the songs (plus I can’t sing worth a slap), but I’m having a good time even if she’s not much into it.
The show ends, Harry does his usual speech about world hunger, and says he’ll be out by the concession stand for as long as people are interested in stopping by. I turn to Linda, and before I say a word, she tells me she’s tired and just wants to go home. SIGH. So we go.
A few months later, I’m at work, got the headphones on (everybody else in the office is tired of hearing my musical selections I have eclectic tastes ranging from Holst to the Muppets and I’m listening to Greatest Stories Live. One of my co-workers taps me on the shoulder and says “did you hear that?” I take off the headphones just in time to hear the radio announcer say “Harry Chapin dead at 38.”
I went to lunch and bought Legends of the Lost and Found and Sequel. Played them both over and over for the rest of the night.
Nineteen years later, I have three kids. I’m three years older than Harry made it to. My oldest is about the same age I was when I discovered Chapin music. She listens to the CDs and wonders whats wrong with the kids her age who don’t appreciate such great writing, who only want to listen to Britney Spears and Backstreet Boys crap.
I tell her about disco and say it’s always been that way. 2000 years ago, an itinerant carpenter said ‘they hated me, they’ll hate you’ and its been that way ever since. There’s a small and special minority of people who have both the intelligence and compassion to appreciate what people like that carpenter and that songwriter were trying to tell us: “do something.”
And I’m STILL ticked at Linda for dragging me away that night. We never went out again. She married some English guy. Life goes on.
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