Monday, December 01, 2014

Music Monday ~ Harry Chapin

My 2009 post on Harry Chapin deserves a re-run this Music Monday, his 72nd birthday would have been coming around next weekend had he not left us far, far too soon. His essence was more than music though - much more. Here's what I wrote in 2009:

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 38.

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 from The Washington Post is well worth reading to get a flavour of this good guy who died much too soon. The link I used in 2009 is now defunct, but the obituary can still be read HERE (scroll down). 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 took 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.

Harry singing one of his best known songs:


mike said...

I've been intrigued with the astrology of accidental deaths. There is typically an astrological signature involving Mars with Saturn, Uranus, or Pluto, transits to natal aspects. We all have these aspects at some time or other, but sometimes they prove fatal, specially if a little carelessness is provided by ourselves or another individual with those aspects, too. That was true for James Dean, when I viewed his aspects for his fatality, and other individuals that have left too soon via accidents.

There are a number of obscure and famous, monetarily endowed individuals that have donated their surplus to assist their chosen cause(s). I always like the stories of working-class individuals that lived a regular, modest lifestyle, but left an outlandish endowment to a worthy cause...they accumulated their dollars over a lifetime and didn't have fancy indulgences.

Twilight said...

mike ~ Yes, that astrological factor IS something well worth noting!

I suppose beneficiaries of such generosity, whether benefactors are
famous or ordinary, gave generously throughout their lives (as did Chapin), or afterwards, would/will feel equally grateful, that is if they even realise the whos and hows of it. :-)