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Remembrances of Harry Chapin, Part II

IW: . . . .  Harry’s second most famous song is “Taxi”.  It contained the painful audience participation that adorns the other t-shirt in Sandy’ shop.  The phrase ends an encounter between Harry the taxi-driver and a now-married ex-girlfriend, neither of whom seem happy with their life choices:

Harry, Keep the Change

The song actually ends with a line form wannabe pilot Harry the Taxi-driver that got it banned from radio stations back when it was released:  “And me, I’m flying in my taxi/Taking tips, and getting stoned/I go flying so high, when I’m stoned.”

As I mentioned in the first part, I saw Harry perform twice at the Huntington Arts Festivals. They took place on the grounds of the converted school that is now known for being the home of Cinema Arts Center.  I remember one show where harry brought up his then young son up on stage to demonstrate his rhythmic rocking motion that inspired the song “Dancing Boy”.


In 1981, my brother was in Denver.  He was going to college for photography, and skiing.  I was 15,  My parents drove us to Eisenhower Park to see a free concert.  At the gate, the police told us that Harry Chapin had died, and to gohome.  30 years later I still wish they had let us in to commune with his other fans who stayed there and sang his songs.  I cried all the way home.

I learned a lot about performing from watching Harry.  In a lot of ways, he is like Arlo Guthrie. Arlo is the jam band of storyteller.  There is a danger in his storytelling that you will wander so far from the song that you won’t know how to get back.  Harry was more intimate.  It was visitng an old friend.  You didn’t mind that they were the same jokes withe same old punchlines because you enjoyed visiting with him so much.

I am going to see my friend Jim Frazzitta featuring tonight at the Babylon Bean.   Jim is a fellow Chapin fan, and some one who also taught me a great deal abouyt performing.  Harry had a great influence on Long Island music.  He backed festivals, ran songwriting workshops and helped start the Long Island Philharmonic.  Jim does an excellent cover of “Cat’s in the Cradle.  I hope he does so tonight.  Maybe my t-shirt will suggest it.

The  madeleine for the reminiscences in these posts was the photo I used to illustrate the first post.  It looks very much like a photo of Harry that my photographer brother took at probably the same concert.  I don’t know how he managed to ditch his tag-a-long brother for that performance.

If you enjoyed theses posts, you might want to sign on to the drive to put Harry on a postage stamp. The purpose is to honor Harry’s work to promote social justice and end hunger.

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