Harry Chapin discography

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Harry Chapin discography
Harry Chapin with guitar in concert.gif
Studio albums9
Live albums2
Compilation albums14
Sales16,750,000 +

This page is a discography for the singer and songwriter Harry Chapin. Chapin was among the most popular singers in the 1970s and 1980s. He achieved international success with a string of hits throughout the 70s and 80s. Chapin's career was cut short at its peak, when he was killed in a car accident in 1981. Shortly after his career debut in 1972, he became one of the highest paid artists in the world. All of his single releases managed to chart on at least one international chart.


In 1972, Chapin switched his career focus to music. After a bidding war broke out over him, he signed a recording contract with Elektra Records. The contract was unprecedented as it granted him free recording time.

His 1972 debut album, Heads & Tales was an international success. It sold 1.1 million units. It was boosted by the Billboard Hot 100 top 20 single, Taxi. The song was also a top 5 hit in Canada. The song is based on Chapin's ex-girlfriend, who wanted to be an actress, selling out her dreams and marrying a rich man. While Chapin originally wanted to be a pilot, and he is now "flying" in his taxi. The story-line, however, is from a dream he had the weekend before he was supposed to start driving a taxi. He got a film job and didn't have to drive the taxi.

The follow-up album, Sniper and Other Love Songs was released the same year. The single, Sunday Morning Sunshine became a top 30 Billboard Adult Contemporary hit. The album's signature song, Sniper, is an almost 10 minute long ballad about the University of Texas tower shooting. The album also contained the Chapin anthem, Circle. The album sold 350,000 units.

His next album, Short Stories was released in 1973. It sold 1 million units. The album produced another worldwide hit, W*O*L*D*. The single became a top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, a top 10 in Canada, and top 10 and 20 in various other countries. The song is about an aging disc jockey who has given up his entire life to continue his career. The song is sung in the point of view of the jockey to his ex-wife. The song was inspired by Jim Connors when Chapin listened to him during a phone call to his ex-wife while at the WMEX studio. WOLD is an actual radio station in Marion, Virginia but there is no relation. The name simply comes from getting old, hence the "O*L*D*".

In 1974, he released his most successful album, Verities and Balderdash. It sold 2.5 million units. It was boosted by the #1 hit, Cat's in the Cradle. The single itself sold 1.3 million units. The song is about a dad who didn't have time for his son during his childhood, and then quickly turns into his son not having time for him. The song is from a poem his wife, Sandra Chapin, wrote. A second single from the album, I Wanna Learn a Love Song, was a top 10 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary. The song is based on how he met his wife. Another notable song from the album is 30,000 Pounds of Bananas. Although not released as a single, the song was extremely popular. It is based on a real truck crash in Scranton, Pennsylvania that was hauling bananas.

In 1975, he released his fifth studio album, Portrait Gallery. The album was less successful than the last, but contained the top 40 Billboard Adult Contemporary hit, Dreams Go By. The album sold 350,000 units. However, he was working on a Broadway play, The Night That Made America Famous. The play earned a total of 4 award nominations.

In 1976, he released two albums. The first was Greatest Stories Live. The album sold 2.1 million units. It was his first live album featuring a select number of songs from the previous albums. He also released On the Road to Kingdom Come. The album had no single release, but contained two popular songs, Corey's Coming and The Mayor of Candor Lied. The album sold 350,000 units.

In 1977, he released his seventh studio album, Dance Band on the Titanic. The album had no single release, but was named London's album of the year. The album sold 500,000 units.

In 1978, he released his ninth studio album, Living Room Suite. Despite the economic recession, the top 20 Irish hit, Flowers Are Red, was produced. The album sold 350,000 units.

In 1979, he released his second live album, Legends of the Lost and Found. Still in the economic recession, the album sold 250,000 units.

In 1980, his recording contract was up. He signed a new one-album deal with Boardwalk Records. He released the final album of his lifetime, Sequel. The single release, Sequel, was a follow up to his first hit single, Taxi. The song was a top 20 near miss on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #23. It is considered to be his fastest breaking album. The album sold 500,000 units.

In 1981, Chapin was killed in a car crash on the Long Island Expressway. He was buried at the Huntington Rural Cemetery. Millions of fans throughout the world mourned him following the news of his death.

On December 7, 1987, on what would have been his 45th birthday, Chapin was posthumously awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his campaigning on social issues, particularly his highlighting of hunger around the world and in the United States. His work on hunger included being widely recognized as a key player in the creation of the Presidential Commission on World Hunger (under 39th President Jimmy Carter) in 1977. There was also a tribute concert held at the Carnegie Hall to commemorate his 45th birthday if he were alive, and also to award him the Congressional Gold Medal which was presented to his son Joshua Chapin and laid to rest on an empty stool with Harry's guitar leaning against it. Various artists contributed, including Bruce Springsteen, Richie Havens, and Pat Benatar, whom Harry taught to sing rock & roll. It was hosted by Harry Belafonte.

TV appearances and credits[edit]

Harry Chapin was featured on many TV shows throughout his career. Most notably on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He was on the show a total of 14 times. He made history as the first performer to be called back the next night to perform on the show. This was due to performance of Taxi.

He became friends with fellow songwriter, John Denver, often appearing on TV with him. John said that he wished he had written the songs Harry did. Denver hosted the pilot episode of The Midnight Special in which Harry was one of the first performers on the show.

− The following are all the currently known TV shows and movies Harry Chapin was on or has songwriting credits on:[1]


Studio albums[edit]

Year Album Chart Positions Certifications Sales
1972 Heads & Tales 60[2] 57 Gold (US)

Platinum (CA)

1972 Sniper and Other Love Songs 160[3] 350,000
1973 Short Stories 61[4] 39 Gold (US)

Platinum (CA)

1974 Verities & Balderdash 4[5] 4 2x Platinum (US)

2x Platinum (CA)

1975 Portrait Gallery 53[6] 350,000
1976 On the Road to Kingdom Come 87[7] 66 350,000
1977 Dance Band on the Titanic 58[8] 91 Gold (US) [9] 500,000
1978 Living Room Suite 133[10] 350,000
1980 Sequel 58[11] 72 Gold (US) 500,000

Live Albums[edit]

Year Album Charts Certifications Sales
1976 Greatest Stories Live 48[12] 71 2x Platinum (US)

Platinum (CA)

1979 Legends of the Lost and Found 163[13] 72 250,000

Compilation and specialty albums[edit]

Year Album Charts Certifications Sales
1985 Anthology of Harry Chapin
  • Released: 1985
  • Label: Elektra/Asylum Records
1987 Remember When the Music
  • Released: 1987
  • Label: Dunhill Compact Classics
1988 The Gold Medal Collection
  • Released: September 13, 1988
  • Label: Elektra/Asylum Records
Platinum (US) 1,000,000
1988 The Last Protest Singer
  • Released: November 30, 1988
  • Label: DCC Compact Classics
1990 Harry Chapin Tribute N/A
1998 The Bottom Line Encore Collection
  • Released: March 10, 1998
  • Label: The Bottom Line Record Company
1999 Story of a Life N/A
1999 Storyteller
  • Released: 1999
  • Label: BOA Records
2000 Onwards and Upwards
  • Released: 2000
  • Label: Harry Chapin Foundation
2001 VH1 Behind the Music: The Harry Chapin Collection N/A
2002 The Essentials N/A
2003 Classics
  • Released: 2003
  • Label: Warner Special Products
2006 Introducing... Harry Chapin
  • Released: August 1, 2006
  • Label: Rhino Records
2015 Bottom Line Archive Series: Live 1981
  • Released: June 30, 2015
  • Label: The Bottom Line Record Company
2019 The Singles A's & B's
  • Released: March 01, 2019
  • Label: Wounded Bird Records

Other appearances[edit]

  • Chapin Music! (1966, Rock-Land Records) – by The Chapin Brothers (Harry, Tom and Steve along with their father Jim)


  • Sales figures with a * are estimated based on album sales.
Year Song Title US
Billboard Hot 100
Cash Box Top 100
Adult Contemporary
Easy Listening
RPM (magazine)
Adult Contemporary
IE Certifications Sales
1972 "Taxi" 24 20 5 19 30 Platinum 1,000,000
1972 "Could You Put Your Light On, Please" 81 N/A 50,000*
1972 "Sunday Morning Sunshine" 75 77 30 N/A 50,000*
1972 "Better Place to Be" 118 51 N/A 50,000*
1973 "W*O*L*D" 36 26 37 14 9 16 21 34 Platinum 1,000,000
1974 "Cat's in the Cradle" 1 1 6 6 3 7 6 53 Platinum 1,500,000
1974 "I Wanna Learn a Love Song" 44 40 7 36 75 N/A 100,000*
1974 "What Made America Famous?" 87 N/A 50,000*
1975 "Dreams Go By" 33 31 81 N/A 100,000*
1976 "A Better Place to Be" (live) 86 76 80 N/A 200,000*
1977 "Dance Band on the Titanic" 87 N/A 50,000*
1978 "Flowers Are Red" 19 N/A 50,000*
1980 "Sequel" 23 34 37 Platinum 1,000,000
1980 "Remember When The Music" 47 100,000
1980 "Story of a Life" 105 N/A 100,000*



  1. ^ "Harry Chapin IMDB".
  2. ^ "allmusic ((( Heads & Tales > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  3. ^ "allmusic ((( Sniper & Other Love Songs > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  4. ^ "allmusic ((( Short Stories > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  5. ^ "allmusic ((( Verities & Balderdash > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  6. ^ "allmusic ((( Portrait Gallery > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  7. ^ "allmusic ((( On the Road to Kingdom Come > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  8. ^ "allmusic ((( Dance Band on the Titanic > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  9. ^ "Rock Obituaries".
  10. ^ "allmusic ((( Living Room Suite > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  11. ^ "allmusic ((( Sequel > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  12. ^ "allmusic ((( Greatest Stories Live > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"
  13. ^ "allmusic ((( Legends of the Lost & Found > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))"