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Harry Chapin was a folk rock artist and philanthropist in the seventies and eighties, 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.
- 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: "30,000 pounds of Bananas." Its most famous version has the audience participating in the song.
- 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".
- Generation Xerox: The narrator of "Cat's in Cradle" laments that his son ends up just like him.
- 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.
- Lyrical Dissonance: "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" is a cheerful, up-tempo song and a crowd-pleasing favourite... about a real life fatal car 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.
- 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."
- 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: "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
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
- Take That: in Harry's introduction of the second ending of "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" above:
Since it was a country song, maybe I could write a country ending - something about motherhood, since the song already had a truck in it...
- When You Coming Home, Dad?: "Cat's in the Cradle" is the trope namer.