July 16, 1981 was the afternoon that #harrychapin physically departed.
It was a sad and shocking day for me, as a 15 year old fan. My brother had seen him in concert several times and I always planned to see him as well.
Instead I had the honor, later on, of writing for the #worldhungeryear newsletter. I spoke with his daughter #jenchapin once and wrote and self published two short stories based on Harry’s songs, “TAXI” and “Cory’s Coming.” (Available on Amazon https://www.amazon.com/dp/1480039756/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_glt_fabc_RY6XB5D21R333HAT4RKN ) shameless plug.
Like the people in Harry’s stories they were usually broken or disenfranchised, or had dreams which fell to the wayside giving way to life itself.
Like the people in Harry’s songs, although downtrodden, lonely and broken. They still found a way to keep on going. Reinventing themselves, adjusting to the life they’ve been given and most important, rather than sitting by and watching time pass by, they followed Harry’s advice to “just do something.”
In my lifetime there were times when I felt like I was part of the Harry Chapin song, unemployed, divorced and lonely, with only broken dreams laying in pieces on the floor as company.
As he sings on “the story of my life”, which is a personal declaration of love to, I like to believe his wife.
“Because she shared my life
For more than all the ghosts of glory
She makes up the story
She’s the only story
Of my life.”
Glory is fleeting and disappears quickly like a dream you try and recall upon waking up. It quickly melts away and leaves you with only echoes of excitement and shadows of a life. You lay there in solitude, despite the temporary company you keep. Until it comes to you, like an arrow through your heart, that it’s only love that lasts forever and that “far more than the ghosts of glory,” it was the love that kept you walking straight and forging ahead even in fear.
Glory is a rumor which is dispelled by truth and time. Einstein said something like, time is constant and that is why we feel so much, too much at times. Love is the only emotion that can truly light your days. Love is defined by life, giving life and sustaining life.
Harry, your words changed the world and brought comfort and strength. Your work towards ending hunger continues 40 years after your death. It’s a testament to your wife and yourself.
In this world of constant movement in a state of inertia, your advice rings loud and clear. “When in doubt, do something.”