Monday, December 14, 2009

Music Monday ~ Harry Chapin

There are many other singers with Sun in Sagittarius I could have featured today: Sinatra, Tina Turner, Dionne Warwick, Bette Midler, Charlie Rich, the list goes on. In spite of the fact that two of my favourites are in that list, I've chosen to write about a different Sun Sagittarian - an artist who may be lurking at the back of some people's memory banks, or may be totally unknown. He ought to be remembered though.

Harry Chapin, singer-songwriter, his style that of a troubadour. A storyteller in song, but so much more. He was a humanitarian and social activist, posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his humanitarian work. He died tragically in a car accident in 1981, possibly following a heart attack at the wheel, or perhaps due to mechanical failure, the car then slamming into a truck and exploding. Harry was only 38 at the time.

From Wikipedia

In the mid-1970s, Chapin focused on his social activism, including raising money to combat hunger in the United States. His daughter Jen said: "He saw hunger and poverty as an insult to America". He co-founded the organization World Hunger Year with legendary radio DJ Bill Ayres. A large proportion of Chapin's concerts were benefit performances .
Chapin's social causes at times caused friction among his band members and then-manager Fred Kewley. Chapin donated an estimated third of his paid concerts to charitable causes, often performing alone with his guitar to reduce costs.
One report quotes his widow saying soon after his death — "only with slight exaggeration" — that "Harry was supporting 17 relatives, 14 associations, seven foundations and 82 charities. Harry wasn't interested in saving money. He always said, 'Money is for people,' so he gave it away." Despite his success as a musician, he left little money and it was difficult to maintain the causes for which he raised more than $3 million in the last six years of his life . The Harry Chapin Foundation was the result.

An obituary at The Washington Post is well worth reading to get a flavour of this good guy who died way, way too soon. The author, Tony Kornheiser, tells of one winter night when he met Harry after a concert:

"That night, a sleeting, crummy winter night, I remember him telling me that it was about time I stopped fooling around writing about celebrities and started writing about the people who really controlled the world.
I remember me telling him that it was about time he stopped trying to save the world and started selling out so he could become a rock star. And I remember exactly what he said about that. He said, "Being a rock star is pointless. It's garbage. It's the most self-indulgent thing I can think of. I've got nothing against selling out. But let me sell out for something that counts. Not so Harry Chapin can be No. 1 with a bullet, but so I can leave here thinking I mattered.""

Harry Chapin was born on 7 December 1942 in Brooklyn, New York at 11.22 AM (Astrodatabank).

His natal Sun, Moon, Mercury and Venus were all in Sagittarius - the 4 most personal planets of the bunch in the sign of the philosopher, with Aquarius rising - sign of the humanitarian and potential rebel. Mars in Scorpio adds a hint of aggressive energy and intensity to his nature, and Mars trines Jupiter in sensitive Cancer which would have tended to calm and smooth Scorpio's intensity.

Uranus and Saturn are 6 degrees apart in Gemini and opposing his natal Moon. This is a kind of "seconding" of Aquarius rising, Uranus being Aquarius's ruler, and push-pulling on a Sagittarius Moon from communicative Gemini: he just had to let his feelings out!

I had a quick look at transits on the day of his accident and death, just after noon on 16 July 1981. Transiting Uranus, planet of the unexpected (including accidents I guess) was just two degrees from his natal Mars in Scorpio.

Two of Harry's best known songs: Cat's in the Cradle and W.O.L.D.


Wisewebwoman said...

Summer 1980. Exhibition Grounds Toronto. Harry Chapin with his back to the audience, saying: "I can't hear you!" until we sang louder and louder:

You see, she was gonna be an actress
And I was gonna learn to fly.
She took off to find the footlights,
And I took off for the sky.

I loved that man.

anyjazz said...

Thanks for doing this. He got far too little credit for his life of contribution.

Shawn Carson said...

nice story twilight!
mars at the midheaven certainly shows that chapin went his own way, and was a very heavy dude, as implied by the moon in aspect to saturn and pluto.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ I can understand why! ;-)

anyjazz~~~ It's often the way. :-)

Shawn ~~~ Yes. He was a guy who would have been a power for good in current circumstances, in so many ways.