a recent album a day was a three disc set of harry chapin. it was story of a life. i listened to one disc a day.
harry chapin was an amazingly poignant singer/songwriter whose studio work is not interesting to me, but whose pure poetry and songsman-ship i totally admire. and, when i’ve seem him sing solo, he has always captivated me.
that might not sound right, but it’s true. some of his studio tracks, at least on these discs, are very overproduced and vacillate too much between the inspired and the time-filling. but when it is just harry and his guitar singing a song, it’s hard to find fault with him.
i think harry chapin was at first a poet. he was the best kind of poet – he died young. and while we no longer live in the age of poetry, he was an average musician but a true song-smith who found a way to distinguish himself with some honest storytelling.
i remember first seeing/hearing him in 9th grade or so. it must have been around 10 years after his death, because public television was running a retrospective.
i watched this guy, all alone on a stage with just a guitar, weave some stories and songs that seemed to wander and find their way. my mom was watching it and i didn’t want to let on that i found him interesting, but i made a note to check him out.
he is most remembered for the song ‘cat’s in the cradle’ but he had much more to say than that. he was elusive, wordly, curly and coy. he was funny and deep, he was sensual, base and tender. his words have much more interest to me than his music.
do you know who harry chapin is? if you don’t, spend 20 minutes you-tube-ing and listening. there’s a whole thing out there that you need to hear at least once.