14 - Shooting Star
From 1974’s “Verities & Balderdash”. On December 7, 1987, on what would have been his 45th birthday, Harry was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his tireless charity efforts, particularly in the name of hunger. He was a key player in the creation of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger in 1977 (the only member who attended every meeting) and the inspiration for USA for Africa and Hands Across America, which were organized by Ken Kragen, who had been Chapin’s manager. “It’s hard to overestimate the amount of good he did. There are a huge number of people who probably have no idea who he is. All they know is they got fed because of him and they wouldn’t have otherwise, both in this country and abroad.” ~ Sen. Patrick Leahy A tribute concert that day brings us Pat Benatar’s wonderful cover of this song.
13 - Flowers Are Red
There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
So many colors in the flower and I see every one Special education before it was cool. Harry made 14 appearances on “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” and this one apparently garnered the most letters. From teachers mainly, but it struck a chord with parents, too. Another song left Johnny and Ed speechless … but that’s still to come ;-)
12 - Babysitter
I was much too late
To be the first to make you a woman
But you were the one
Who made my mother’s son a man Not exactly radio-friendly back then! From 1975’s “Portrait Gallery”.
What a thing to do to a young man in love
And what a thing to do to your daughter From 1976’s “On The Road To Kingdom Come”. Lying politicians, not much has changed.
10 - W*O*L*D
Sometimes I get this crazy dream
That I just drive off in my car
But you can travel on ten thousand miles and still stay where you are An aging disk jockey comes to terms with his life. From 1974’s “Short Stories”, this performance is from 1975’s PBS Soundstage. A minor success on the charts, it’s said to be one of the inspirations for the hit ’70s show, “WKRP in Cincinnati”.
9 - Story of a Life
Now sometimes words can serve me well
Sometimes words can go to hell
For all that they do Haven’t we all asked ourselves, “Where’s my magic story of a life?”. From 1980’s “Sequel”, the last album released before his death.
If you want me to come with you
Then that’s all right with me
‘Cause I know I’m going nowhere
And anywhere’s a better place to be The story of a rotund waitress and a midnight watchman that will rip your black heart out. From 1972’s “Sniper & Other Love Songs”, the video is from his last concert in Hamilton in 1981.
7 - Corey’s Coming
Can’t you see my Corey’s coming
No more sad stories coming
My midnight-moonlight-morning-glory’s coming, aren’t you girl? From 1976’s “On The Road To Kingdom Come”, the link is live audio from 1979’s “Legends of the Lost and Found”. I can’t sing-along without crying.
6 - Mr. Tanner
But music was his life, it was not his livelihood
and it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good
and he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul
he did not know how well he sang
it just made him whole The heart-breaking story of Martin Tanner, a local launderer from Dayton, Ohio, whose dreams of singing are dashed by so-called critics. Based on a review Harry read in The New York Times of Martin Tubridy.
And something’s burning somewhere
Does anybody care?!
Is anybody there?! From 1974’s “Verities & Balderdash”, the clip is from 1975’s PBS Soundstage. On the surface, it’s just a song about a fire. But, underneath, it’s a rallying call to all Americans to just stand up and give a damn.
4 - Bummer
Well he came on through like a knife through butter
Or a scythe sweeping through the grass
Or to say it like the man would have said it himself:
“Just a big black bastard kicking ass!” From 1975’s “Portrait Gallery”. A must-hear for anyone involved with the military. Some people are born for it, some have it thrust upon them. Based on the life of Dwight Johnson (with some poetic liberties).
3 - Taxi
And she said, “How are you, Harry?”
I said, “How are you, Sue?
Through the too many miles
and the too little smiles
I still remember you.” From 1972’s “Heads & Tales”, this is the original promo film for Harry’s biggest hit. His last concert in Hamilton in 1981 saw him perform this one, of course, and the newly released Sequel. BONUS: William Shatner destroyed it on the ’70s TV show “Dinah!” (with Dinah Shore).
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head, and he said, with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See ya later, can I have them please?” The anthem for dead-beat Dads. From 1974’s “Verities & Balderdash”, the clip is from 1998’s “Behind the Music” with his widow Sandy and son Josh (along with a ’70s concert performance). BONUS: Ugly Kid Joe had a hit with it in 1992. Johnny Cash recorded it. And there’s the ubiquitous Ukulele Version.
1 - Sniper
He laid out the rifles, he loaded the shotgun,
He stacked up the cartridges along the wall
He knew he would need them for his conversation
If it went as he planned, then he might use them all From 1972’s “Sniper & Other Love Songs”, the clip is from 1975’s PBS Soundstage. This is the one that left Johnny and Ed speechless when he performed it. Doc Severinsen had to announce the commercial break. Personally speaking, I think this one blows everything else he ever recorded right off the map. A brilliant look inside the mind of a madman. Played on the radio today, I’m guessing this would mark him as the genius he was.
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