Sadly many do not remember Harry Chapin. He was a singer/songwriter whom I first heard in the 1970s on PBS. Many of his songs were ballads — stories of people trying to face life. His story-songs ranged from one about a man running a motel to a DJ trying to reconnect with his family to a Dakota farmer awaiting his mail-order bride. His songs He also wrote a song set in my hometown of Scranton. Other singers such as Billy Joel and Bruce Springsteen acknowledge his influence. His songs enriched my journey.
Harry, however, was more than an entertainer. He became very involved in social justice long before it become better known. He dedicated much of his life and craft to fighting hunger. His Harry Chapin Food Bank continues in its quest to end hunger. It is part of Harry’s legacy. Sadly Harry Chapin died in an auto accident in 1981.
Many of Harry’s songs had a powerful impact in my life. As with many fathers of that time, his song “Cat’s In The Cradle” challenged us all to examine our priorities.
One of my other favorite songs of his tells a heart-breaking story of a singer. The story of Mr. Tanner speaks to all of us who have chased a dream only to be disappointed. It also reminds me that there is a price to be paid for trying to be “successful”.
Music remains a central part of my spiritual journey. Harry Chapin blessed me along the way.
VIEWING: There is a recent documentary titled Harry Chapin: When In Doubt, Do Something. It covers his music as well as his work against hunger. Worth your time.
REFLECTION: Are there any particular singers who have graced your spiritual journey?
Harry’s younger brother, also a songwrter, musician and civil activist gave a concert at an annual Border Issues conference that we generally attend near us…excellent. Talked about Harry. Would like to know more about how they were raised to be so empathetic. Thanks, Richard.