The Songs We Will Sing.

#44: Harry Chapin: Taxi: 1972 & Sequel :1980

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Harry Chapin deserves just one more blog before we move on. We have already mentioned that Chapin was a story teller; his song lyrics are meaningful and timeless. Taxi is on his 1972 debut album, Heads & Tales and was released also as a single. While this song didn’t exactly “fly” at the time, making it to only 24 on the Billboard, it is an outstanding example of Chapin’s talent as a story teller/ songwriter/ singer.

It is a long and somewhat melancholy story about lost love, lost dreams and the often harsh realities of life. It is also an example of the ironic truths in life as in the closing lines of the song, both characters had actually got what they had asked for, but in a totally different way to the way they had expected. Life is often like that, we think we want something and we think we know what that someting should look like – but when it comes, it is packaged in a completely different way to what we had envisaged – but it is still actually what we had asked for.

Chapin said the lyrics of the song are about 60% true. He had been in the US Air Force for a short stint with the objective of becoming a pilot; he did drive a taxi at times in his working life when his song and play writing was going slowly and he did pick up an old girlfriend in his taxi. In the story recognition comes slowly, followed by some small talk and silences, but he notes that his old girlfriend, who had broken up with him to become an actress, is only “acting happy”. This song has no happy ending, it is simply a chance meeting – the past is exactly that, the past – and after Sue gives Harry a generous tip they go on their separate ways…

Until 1980, when Chapin releases the album Sequel, with the title track returning to the Taxi story. Sequel is probably an effort to round off, finish the Taxi story but in a way it actually spoils it for me, I actually like where Taxi finishes; a bit up in the air – not nicely tied up and boxed – because real life is like that; you can’t tie it up and put it in a box – you simply have to have the courage to live it!

I will put links to both Taxi and Sequel and you can form your own opinion. Taxi by Harry Chapin 1972 Sequel by Harry Chapin 1980

Anyhow, 10 years later the taxi driver is now successful and Sue is much happier and finds she no longer needs to act happy because she says, I finally like myself; at last I like myself.

Thank you, Harry Chapin for your music and for some good things to think upon.

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