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Verities & Balderdash

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Album Review

Verities & Balderdash is a very strange and wonderful album. "Cat's in the Cradle" was the driving force behind the album's sales, but there's a lot more to appeal to listeners, along with enough personal, topical material to make it seem a bit didactic at the time, but Chapin was cultivating a politically committed audience. Verities & Balderdash walked several fine lines, between topical songwriting and an almost (but not quite) pretentious sense of its own importance, humor and seriousness, and balladry and punditry, all intermingled with catchy, highly commercial ballads such as "I Wanna Learn a Love Song" (which is about as pretty a song as he ever wrote). Chapin is in good voice and thrives in the more commercial sound of this album, which includes lots of electric guitars and overdubbed orchestra and choruses. He still loves to tell stories — most are like little screenplays, with "Shooting Star" offering details and textures and a sense of drama akin to a finished film (in the manner of "Taxi"). The "haunt count" on this album is extremely high, boosted by gorgeous ballads like "She Sings Songs Without Words." "What Made America Famous" may be the one song that comes off as dated, a parable — perhaps reflecting the near-meltdown of politics surrounding the Nixon resignation of 1974 — about long-haired teens and crew-cutted firemen who discover a mutual dependence and respect for each other and reconciliation; it seems like ancient history and probably will be incomprehensible to anyone born after 1968. Chapin also lapses into excessive dramatics in the finale, which shamelessly borrows a couple of lines from one song out of the musical 1776. The album also offers a pair of humorous numbers on "30,000 Pounds of Bananas" and "Six String Orchestra," not the most significant songs in Chapin's repertory, but both adding balance to the mood. Producer Paul Leka (the commercial genius behind Steam's "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye") retained some elements of the relatively lean sound that characterized Chapin's debut album, embellishing it only enough to give the album some potentially wider commercial appeal. Even the cover art seems to reflect the two delightfully contradictory thrusts of this album: an image of Chapin posed like Uncle Sam on the military recruiting poster with a wry smile on his face.

Customer Reviews

"one of the greatest songs ever"

A child arrived just the other day, He came to the world in the usual way. But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay. He learned to walk while I was away. And he was talking 'fore I knew it, and as he grew, He'd say, "I'm gonna be like you, dad. You know I'm gonna be like you." And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little boy blue and the man in the moon. "When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when, But we'll get together then. You know we'll have a good time then." My son turned ten just the other day. He said, "Thanks for the ball, dad, come on let's play. Can you teach me to throw?" I said, "Not today, I got a lot to do." He said, "That's ok." And he walked away, but his smile never dimmed, Said, "I'm gonna be like him, yeah. You know I'm gonna be like him." And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little boy blue and the man in the moon. "When you coming home, dad?" "I don't know when, But we'll get together then. You know we'll have a good time then." Well, he came from college just the other day, So much like a man I just had to say, "Son, I'm proud of you. Can you sit for a while?" He shook his head, and he said with a smile, "What I'd really like, dad, is to borrow the car keys. See you later. Can I have them please?" And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little boy blue and the man in the moon. "When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when, But we'll get together then, dad. You know we'll have a good time then." I've long since retired and my son's moved away. I called him up just the other day. I said, "I'd like to see you if you don't mind." He said, "I'd love to, dad, if I could find the time. You see, my new job's a hassle, and the kid's got the flu, But it's sure nice talking to you, dad. It's been sure nice talking to you." And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me, He'd grown up just like me. My boy was just like me. And the cat's in the cradle and the silver spoon, Little boy blue and the man in the moon. "When you coming home, son?" "I don't know when, But we'll get together then, dad. You know we'll have a good time then."

Harry, Boy Do We Need You Now...

As a follow up to Sniper and Other Love Songs, this album took his popularity to the max. To date, "Cat's In the Cradle" is probably his most popular song (second being "Taxi"), and this album had even more great songs, like "She Sings a Song Without Words", and "I Wanna Learn a Love Song". I miss you Harry... They just don't make them like they used to....

Cats in the cradle, great song

this song is so great with a good message, one of my favorite songs. i went to one of his brother's concerts (tom chapin) and he sang this song right after harry died. it was so touching and i almost cried. the rest of the album isnt bad either. harry was a great singer and his death was a tragedy to the music business.

Biography

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
Verities & Balderdash, Harry Chapin
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