WOLD (song)

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"W*O*L*D"
Single by Harry Chapin
from the album Short Stories
Released 1974
Recorded 1973
Genre Folk rock
Length 5:15
Label Elektra Records
Writer(s) Harry Chapin
Producer(s) Paul Leka

"W·O·L·D" is a song written and performed by Harry Chapin. The song is about an aging disc jockey who travels the United States seeking happiness, which he believes he will find by following his passion for being a radio broadcaster, only to discover that his life, looks, and voice have passed him by, which is alluded to in the song's title. (WOLD) The song is sung through the point of view of a phone call conversation from the DJ to his ex-wife, only hearing what he has to say to her.[1] The lyrics go on to reveal that perhaps we can never change who we really are and that what he had really wanted was the love and companionship that had eluded him in a previous failed relationship.[2]

Inspiration[edit]

This hit song was inspired by radio personality Jim Connors, who is credited for discovering Chapin, and pushing his hit, "Taxi", through Boston radio station WMEX, where he was the AM Drive time host. After the debut of "Taxi", Chapin sat in on a phone conversation Connors was having with his ex-wife while in studio at WMEX. This conversation led to a deep and personal discussion during an interview both on and off the air between the men. They talked about life, the business, marriage, divorce, happiness, and all the troubles associated with being a DJ and the music business at the time.

WOLD-FM is an actual radio station in Marion, Virginia, which went on the air in 1968, five years before Chapin recorded the song.[3] Shortly after "W·O·L·D" made it on the charts, Chapin went to visit Connors at his new AM host job at WYSL in Buffalo, New York, for an interview. During this 30-minute interview, the men discussed the inspiration of the hit song "W·O·L·D", caught up on time that had passed, and Connors informed Chapin about the impact the song had on his real life.

This song was also one of the major inspirations for Hugh Wilson in creating the television series WKRP in Cincinnati, which ran on network television for 90 episodes from 1978 to 1982 and continues to this day in syndication. While Chapin would change the station call letters to suit the location when performing live, he used the WKRP call letters in a performance at Hamilton Place, Ontario, (recorded for television broadcast and released on home video as Harry Chapin: The Final Concert) which would be his final show before his death in July 1981.

Discography[edit]

From the album Short Stories, the song peaked on the US charts at #36 in March 1974[4] and at #34 in the UK.[1] However, when Chapin sings the song on the Greatest Stories Live album, he jokingly says that the song actually charted for "15 minutes".[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Lewis, Jesse (November 3, 1977). "DJ's Off Mike: Tuning In On The Radio Rodeo". Ocala Star-Banner (Ocala, FL). p. 10A. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  2. ^ "A Friend Remembers Harry Chapin". ClassicBands.com. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  3. ^ "The Facilities of AM-FM Radio". 1969 Broadcasting Yearbook. Washington, DC: Broadcasting Publications, Inc. 1969. p. B-169. 
  4. ^ "Hot 100 for Week Ending March 23, 1974" (PDF). Billboard. March 23, 1974. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Rock, Storytellers And Jazz Fill November Concert Calendar". St. Petersburg Independent (St Petersburg, FL). October 27, 1979. p. 12D. Retrieved January 27, 2011.