Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Harry (Blogophilia 43.8)
He wasn’t that talented. He said so himself. A third rate guitar player with a knack for lyrics and the ability to transport an audience into a new world. You could tell he was happiest on stage, watching the faces rise and fall with the tenor of his scratchy voice. We laughed along with the easy banter of the band. Whether it was the prairie scenes of “Mail Order Annie” or the mind at the edge of adultery in “Halfway to Heaven”, you could forget your own foibles for a while and have sympathy for the protagonists. An experience that when it ended, you always came in with a smooth landing.
I was in my office balancing a store inventory when the news that Harry had died came over the radio. It felt like a door slamming closed on a significant part of my life. I met him at an after party at the Fox Theater in March 1978, where he invited the attendees to participate in a World Hunger Year event that was coming up. I did and it started a long association with homeless services in and around the Atlanta area. Because of this looked up to him as truly a hero.
Two of my stories are based on his lyrics: “The Deal” is “Taxi” relocated to the card rooms of South Los Angeles and “Debbie” was the lost girl in “A Better Place To Be”. I have a couple of more short story ideas that probably need to be written, but they just haven’t completely gelled. But the wide subject matter lends itself to tangential plots and bursts of imagination.
Harry’s motto was to be kind when possible, and to him it was always possible. “One concert for me and one for the other guy.” By all accounts, this caused chaotic scheduling and drove his road crew crazy. But it was his way. This philosophy drives the The Harry Chapin Foundation to this day. Sweet dreams fly unless somebody cares. And the foundation sees to it that they still do.
Sometimes I wonder how he would have morphed had he lived? Would he still be the bug in everyone’s ear on social issues? I would like to think so. Even if love and kindness seems so out of fashion, it is ultimately what is save us from utter destruction.
Topic: Trevor Clower
Pic: Nina Nixon
Pic Guesses: Rainbow, Primary People, Paint, Everyday People, Jars,