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Portrait Gallery

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Customer Reviews

Sorely Missed

I don't think the world realized what it lost with Harry Chapin's death. A true story teller which is not so prevalent in today's music. I remember hearing "The Rock" as a little kid and it's vivid imagery frankly scared the crap out of me. I've been a fan ever since.


This is a really great album. From the lyrics to the sounds, Harry Chapin is really great. "Bummer" is a really powerful song that everyone should take the time to listen to, and "Dirt Gets Under The Fingernails" is really funny!


Portrait Gallery is a nice album. Harry performed many of the songs from it in the last years of his abruptly shortened life with Dreams Go By being a standout. The most affecting song however is, of course, Bummer. Listen to it hard, pay close attention and you'll hear that Mr. Chapin was describing what we all now know today as PTSD. The main character had it in a massive dose, beginning with his traumatic childhood and only made even more unbearable by having to endure fighting in Viet Nam. On this record the song is terribly over-produced. Strings and horns were really not needed here. I remember seeing Harry perform this song on TV, using only his guitar and voice and I found it to be even more powerful in that setting. The only lyrical gaff would be the idea that a soldier could recieve 6 Purple Hearts for one combat action (and be alive to boot) and the only reason I mention that is because Harry had been in the Air Force once upon a time so I would think that he would have known not to take that much poetic license with all things military. In the end though, the song does what it needed to do, showing the human damage caused by both a racially unequal society and a war that should have been stopped sooner than it was.


Born: December 7, 1942 in New York, NY

Genre: Singer/Songwriter

Years Active: '70s, '80s

Harry Chapin's career as a popular singer/songwriter was cut short by an auto accident in 1981, yet he left behind a series of recordings that his fans continue to treasure decades after his death. Chapin was never a critically acclaimed singer/songwriter. Critics accused him of over-sentimentalizing his subjects and attaching heavy-handed morals to his socially aware story-songs; the heavily orchestrated arrangements that accompanied many of his songs didn't help his case with the critics, either....
Full Bio
Portrait Gallery, Harry Chapin
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