Here’s a video from a singer/songwriter/world changer who has left my life all marked up with fingerprints. It would be hard to come up with a single influence, living or dead, who has impacted my life more than Harry.
I saw him LIVE in concert in Spfld with my friend Baggins. It was a night I will never forget for many, many reasons. After the show, Harry was in the lobby signing autographs and selling swag in exchange for loot. If there was change left from your purchase you could say, “Harry, keep the change.” (A line from one of his most well-loved songs.) The change all went to Harry’s project to end world hunger. This was way before it was the cool rockstar thing to do but millions were starving all over the world.
I stood there, got my t-shirt, which is right behind me, right now, and when the guy behind the table offered me the change I said the line, he shouted it back to Harry and Harry made a huge deal about it. He made a huge deal about it every time it happened that night which probably was up around 200 times before the crowd was gone. While the roar of “keep the change” was still echoing in the hall I spotted my art teacher, Mr. E., who had been there with his fiance’, pull out a big, ugly, clay pitcher I’d made in art class and he asked Harry to autograph it. Harry looked at it, looked at him, shrugged and then signed the bottom of the pitcher, which is also right behind me, right now. Mr. E. handed him some loot for the cause and Harry cheered, everyone else cheered and I stood there shocked and stunned.
A couple months later Harry passed away. Which totally sucked. It got me really angry with a God I wasn’t sure I believed in and led to an angry, shouted, one-sided conversation with this God whose name I did not know. A few years later I watched a recorded version of the Cotton Patch Gospel Musical that he wrote the music and lyrics for and in that musical I heard two voices I recognized. Today there’s very little about what I do that gives me as much of a thrill as feeding a hungry person. And every time I do it feels a little like Harry and a little like Jesus and more and more it feels a little like me.
This video is from the first Harry song I ever heard and it’s probably his most famous. Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Harry Chapin…