When I was very young, I caught “Taxi” on the radio one day. I loved the fact that Harry Chapin was just belting out, so loud and clear, “When I’m stoned!” That got me hooked. I bought all his previous albums, and always kept on top of his new ones.
I saw him in concert, and on T. V., but there was nothing like “The Philharmonic!” I was in the second row center. I turned around, and couldn’t believe all the seats, all full!
A man came out and there was a dead silence. He said over the microphone, “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Harry Chapin.” Harry and the band all came out in tuxedos. People clapped, but very softly. Harry kept saying how strange he felt, and the audience still lightly applauded after each song. Harry said, “I’ve never done this in a tuxedo, but screw it!” He sat on the stage, right by me, and sang “Mail Order Annie.” The crowd didn’t care for his attitude, but the song made up for it!
I did have a chance to meet him once, at Brooklyn College, because he was doing a benefit, and my brother worked back stage. I had to leave N.Y. for a new life in Colorado, after a failed marriage, and couldn’t stay. I saw him in Denver in concert, and while he was signing autographs afterwards, I asked him about “The Philharmonic,” and he laughed!
Then, I showed him a note he wrote me, and gave to my brother. I told him the circumstances behind what his note did for me, as far as motivation, with education and children, and told him he could probably write a song about it. He gave me his home address, and said to write him. After writing him, he returned my letter saying he might use bits and pieces of my story in his new material.
Shortly afterwards, I was outside a mall one day, waiting for my sister, sitting in my VW The D.J. announced Harry’s death, in a VW, then played “Taxi,” followed by “Imagine.” When my sister came out of the mall, I couldn’t drive home for hours!!
Nowadays, for fun, I do try to write story songs, but there will never be another “Harry Chapin!” Thanks, Stormin-Norman
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