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Music: Harry Chapin

Harry Chapin (1942-1981) was a folk rock artist and philanthropist in the 1970s and early '80s, and creator of such famous songs as "Cat's in the Cradle" and "Taxi." He was killed in 1981 in a traffic accident while on his way to a free concert he was giving, although he may have already been dead; the autopsy and his driving patterns, which caused the accident, are consistent with him having suffered a heart attack behind the wheel.

Harry's work provides examples of:

  • Age Progression Song:
    • "Cat's in the Cradle" goes from the birth of the narrator's son to his adulthood.
    • "Dreams Go By" is about a couple who puts off their dreams until they're too old to dream anymore.
    • "The Rock" is about a man who spends his whole life averting disaster.
    • "I Don't Want to Be President" goes through the life of a person from his youth to the point where he becomes President.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: The "she" of "She Is Always Seventeen" is basically one of these for the youthful idealism of The Sixties.
  • Assimilation Academy: "Flowers Are Red" is about a young child being punished for making his flowers all red and the effect this has on him. In it, the kid is forced to sit in a corner until he believes that "Flowers are red, and green leaves are green. There's no need to see flowers any other way than the way they always have been seen."
  • Audience Participation Song: Live performances of "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" had the audience joining along in the choruses of the song.
  • Based on a True Story:
    • "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" was inspired by a real truck crash.
    • "Sniper" is loosely based on Charles Whitman's shooting spree at the University of Texas in 1966.
  • Black Comedy: "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" is a humorous song about a truck driver who loses control driving down a hill and is killed in the ensuing crash.
  • Cassandra Truth: "The Rock"
  • Caustic Critic: "Mr. Tanner"
  • Downer Ending: Most of Harry's works. It's most apparent in "The Day They Closed the Factory Down" and "Cat's in the Cradle".
  • Dying Town: "The Day They Closed the Factory Down"
  • Eagleland: "What Made America Famous?" is about the tension between type one and type two - it describes a mild type two, but ends with a plea to make the country a type one.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Sequel" is, in fact, a Sequel Song to "Taxi".
  • Generation Xerox: The narrator of "Cat's in the Cradle" laments that his son ends up just like him.
  • I Will Wait for You: "Corey's Coming" is about a man who waits his entire life for an old flame to return to him. She finally shows up—at his funeral.
  • Last Note Nightmare: "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" ends in an elongated scream.
  • Live Album: Several, most notably 1976's Greatest Stories Live.
  • Loners Are Freaks: "Sniper" deconstructs this. The titular sniper admits when we hear his thoughts that being shunned and treated like a freak for being a loner is what drove him to his rampage.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: "A Better Place to Be"
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" is a cheerful, up-tempo song and a crowd-pleasing favorite... about a real life fatal truck accident. Originally intended to be serious, until Chapin realized how hard it was to keep a straight face while singing about a man being killed by bananas.
    • Nonetheless, Chapin always refused to perform the song when playing concerts in Pennsylvania (where the actual accident took place) out of respect for the victim's memory.
  • Morality Ballad: The vast majority of Harry's songs are this.
  • Murder Ballad: The aforementioned "Sniper".
  • No, Except Yes: "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" has a revised ending that has the line "Yes, We have no bananas."
    • Which comes from an actual song that was popular in the 1920s.
  • Non-Appearing Title: The word sniper never appears in "Sniper."
  • Perspective Reversal: "Cat's in the Cradle" is all about one.
  • Reality Subtext: Harry admitted that he wrote "Cat's in the Cradle", which was based on a poem by his wife, after his son was born while he was out on the road.
  • Revised Ending: The Greatest Stories Live version of "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" has two:
    Yes, we have no bananas
    We have no bananas today
    Yes, We have no bananas
    Bananas in Scranton, P A
and
A woman walks into her room
Where her child lies sleeping
And when she sees his eyes are closed,
She sits there silently weeping
And though she lives in Scranton, Pennsylvania
She never, ever eats bananas
Not one of thirty thousand pounds of bananas

Nick CaveTropeNamers/MusicThe Clash
Vanessa CarltonMusiciansTracy Chapman
The CarsThe SeventiesCheap Trick

alternative title(s): Harry Chapin
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