Up here among the fields, lakes, woods and mountains of northwestern Maine, it seems especially right to drive along listening to the ballads of the late singer and composer Harry Chapin. Our son David is also good at doing his own covers of Chapin’s ballads on the porch by the lake we love not far from our farm as we sit watching magnificent sunsets.
Chapin is perhaps best known for his evocative Cat’s in the Cradle about a father who is away much of the time while his son is growing up, with its ironical refrain, “I want to be like you, Dad; you know I want to be like you.” Chapin’s songs speak of unrequited love and of dreams fulfilled and unfulfilled — or fulfilled in ways less than one had hoped when they are finally realized. From midnight watchmen to baritone tailors, his protagonists speak with poignancy, and his lyrics are as creative as they are evocative. Combined with piano, bass and cello, his guitar and voice are captivating — though his songs tend to have such long playing times, given their intricate tales, as to cause him to miss many radio-play opportunities given commercial radio’s play-time requirements.