Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Video: Reminiscing on the Life of Brooklyn's Harry Chapin, Singer of Ballads, Humanitarian

We just discovered this "Behind the Music" video about the life of Brooklyn Heights songwriter/singer Harry Chapin. From his early years -- first singing in public with his brothers at Grace Church, then forming a band with them -- his career was like a luminous, super-heated shooting star.

After Harry (who attended Brooklyn Tech high school) returned from the service, his brothers had no spot for him in the band. During the Nixon recession, he had to apply for a hack license. While he was waiting for it to come through, he heard that an old girlfriend had married a rich guy.

"And here I was flying in my taxi ... and if the story sounds familiar, you know where it comes from," he said during interviews.

Before too long, "Harry got even with us for firing him," one of his brothers said. "Taxi" became a breakout hit -- despite pans from the critics.  After "Taxi" came "Cat's in the Cradle," "W*O*L*D" and others.

Harry became known as the hardest-working singer/songwriter in music, as well as the greatest humanitarian in show business. In 1976, he played 230 concerts, and 130 of them were benefits. Harry personally raised more than $6 million for charity. He traveled to Washington to fight world hunger, and talked President Carter into a World Hunger Congress.

In 1981, while driving to a meeting in Long Island, he died in a fiery crash at the age of 38. A memorial service was held at Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights, where the overflow crowd spilled out into the street. (Chapin playground was dedicated to him in the north Heights.)

His legacy is not his music but his life, friends say. He inspired We Are the World and other activities. Harry Belafonte said Harry "threw a pebble into a pond, and I saw the ripples."

"And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little Boy Blue and the Man in the Moon,
When you coming home dad? I don't know when,
But we'll get together then, son, you know we'll have a good time then."

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