Harry Chapin was a singer, songwriter and humanitarian. He was a tireless advocate for the elimination of world hunger and donated proceeds from numerous concerts to promote those causes. Harry Chapin was posthumously awared the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award that can be bestowed by the United States Congress. Mr. Chapin is perhaps best known as a singer/songwriter for his autobiographical 1972 song "Taxi" (on YouTube) and the ever current 1974 song "Cat's in the Cradle" (on YouTube). One would be remiss in not evaluating several other Harry Chapin gems, including: "Mr. Tanner", "WOLD", "Story of a LIfe" and "Circle".
Below is a transcript from a speech which appears in The Gold Medal Collection, a loving tribute to the memory of Harry Chapin.
My grandfather was a painter. He died at age 88.
He illustrated Robert Frost’s first two books of poetry.
And he was looking at me and he said, “Harry, there’s two kinds of tired. There’s good tired and there’s bad tired.”
He said, “Ironically enough bad tired can be a day that you… won.
But you won other people’s battles; you lived other people’s days, other people’s agendas, other people’s dreams.
And when it was all over, there was very little you in there;
and when you hit the hay at night, somehow you toss and turn, you don’t settle easy.”
He said, “Good tired, ironically enough can be a day that you lost.
But you don’t even have to tell yourself, cause you knew you fought your battles, you chased your dreams.
You lived your days. And when you hit the hay at night, you settle easy; you sleep the sleep of the just and you can say, ‘Take me away’”.
He said, “Harry, all my life I’ve wanted to be a painter… and I painted.
God, I would have loved to have been more successful.
But I painted and I painted and I am good tired. And they can take me away.”
Now, if there is a process in your and my lives, in the insecurity that we have about a prior life or an afterlife, god, I hope there is a god;
if he is, if he does exist, he has a rather weird sense of humor.
If there’s a process that will allow us to live our days,
that will allow us that degree of equanimity towards the end,
looking at that black implacable wall of death,
to allow us that degree of peace,
that degree of non fear,
I want in…
The Gold Medal Collection
©1988 Elektra Asylum Records
Harry Chapin died on July 16, 1981 in a traffic accident on the Long Island Expressway, on his way to a concert. He was 39 years young. His epitaph is taken from his song "I Wonder What Would Happen to this World" :
- Oh if a man tried
- To take his time on Earth
- And prove before he died
- What one man's life could be worth
- I wonder what would happen
- to this world
- To take his time on Earth