A Better Place to Be

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"A Better Place to Be" is a song by Harry Chapin from his 1972 album, Sniper and Other Love Songs.

Released as a single, the song reached #118 on the Billboard Bubbling Under chart. A live version, from the 1976 album Greatest Stories Live, reached #86 on the Hot 100 chart.

According to Chapin, it was his favorite song that he wrote.


The song begins with "a little man" sitting at a bar, looking glum. The waitress, who is described as a "big ol' friendly girl", notices this in him and asks him what his problem is. The little man ignores the waitress at first, but after "a couple of sips" of gin, he begins to tell her his story.

The song then takes the little man's point of view as he states that he is a midnight watchman at a place called Miller's Tool & Die. One week earlier, he goes to a diner and sees a beautiful girl. Though worried that she's too good for him, the little man still attempts to "give her one good try." Stammering, he makes a fool of himself, but the girl takes his offer, saying in the song's refrain:

If you want me to come with you
then that's all right with me
Because I've been goin' nowhere
And anywhere's a better place to be

The little man takes her home and attempts to turn on the lights as he enters his room, but the girl tells him to leave the lights off because she "doesn't mind the dark". The little man cannot believe his good luck, and tries again to speak to the girl, who says only:

If you want to come here with me
then that's all right with me
because I've been oh so lonely
Loving someone is a better way to be.

The next day, the little man watches her sleep and leaves early so he can return and surprise her with breakfast. When he returns, he finds she has gone, leaving behind a "six word letter, saying 'It's time that I moved on.'"

After the little man's story, the tearful waitress tells him she wishes that she too were beautiful so she could go home with the little man. He responds to the waitress a "crooked grin", finishes his drink, and acknowledges their shared loneliness by repeating the song's first refrain, implying that he is going to take advantage of the waitress for a one-night stand.


Introducing the song on the Greatest Stories Live album, Chapin states he came up with the song while visiting Watertown, New York, claiming he "spent a week there one afternoon".

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