Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Wednesday Coffee House: The Greatest Story Teller

I hope that you are familiar with singing/song writer Harry Chapin, the greatest story teller. All of Harry's songs are stories, grand stories.

Born into a middle-class Jewish family in New York City's Greenwich Village, In the late 1950s he became part of the folk music scene, playing most of the songs of that genre. His first hit song was the story simply entitled Taxi., written in the early 1970s There followed more stories that I can count (even though I own all of them).

Dedicated to social activism, Harry spent much of his time raising money to combat hunger in the United States. Unfortuantely for the worild...
On Thursday, July 16, 1981, just after noon, Chapin was driving in the left lane on the Long Island Expressway at about 65 mph on the way to perform at a free concert scheduled for later that evening at Eisenhower Park in East Meadow, New York. Near exit 40 in Jericho he put on his emergency flashers, presumably because of either a mechanical or medical problem (possibly a heart attack). He then slowed to about 15 miles (24 km) per hour and veered into the center lane, nearly colliding with another car. He swerved left, then to the right again, ending up directly in the path of a tractor-trailer truck. The truck could not brake in time and rammed the rear of Chapin's blue 1975 Volkswagen Rabbit, rupturing the fuel tank by climbing its back and causing it to burst into flames.
The driver of the truck and a passerby were able to get Chapin out of the burning car through the window and by cutting the seat belts before the car was completely engulfed in flames. He was taken by police helicopter to a hospital, where ten doctors tried for 30 minutes to revive him.[citation needed] A spokesman for the Nassau County Medical Center said Chapin had suffered a heart attack and "died of cardiac arrest", but there was no way of knowing whether it occurred before or after the accident. In an interview years after his death, Chapin's daughter said "My dad didn't really sleep, and he ate badly and had a totally insane schedule."[4]
Even though Chapin was driving without a license, his driver's license having previously been revoked for a long string of traffic violations, his widow Sandy won a $12 million decision in a negligence lawsuit against Supermarkets General, the owners of the truck.
Chapin was interred in the Huntington Rural Cemetery, Huntington, New York. His epitaph is taken from his song "I Wonder What Would Happen to this World." It is:
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
~ From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Please take time to enjoy the few more of the greatest stories of Harry Chapin presented in this edition of Nick's Bytes Coffee House..

I Wanna Learn a Love Song

Mr. Tanner

30,000 Pounds of Bananas

A Better Place to Be

All of the above songs may be found on the CD
Greatest Stories Live

Want more? Below are may favorite Haryy Chapin CDs (found at

Heads and Tales

Gold Medal Collection

Short Stories

The Harry Chapin Collection

Until next time, be cool.


  1. I have always liked Chapin's songs and voice, but I didn't know about his life and death. Thanks for sharing his story, Nick!

  2. You are welcome, Carol. Harry's work to end hunger motivated me to do the same.

  3. Takk for interessant informasjon

  4. Are publishing your coffee house again? I hope so!