There Only Was One Choice

Harry ChapinBuy this song

Harry Chapin

Harry Forster Chapin (December 7, 1942 – July 16, 1981) was an American singer-songwriter best known for his folk rock songs including "Taxi", "W*O*L*D", and the No. 1 hit "Cat's in the Cradle". Chapin was also a dedicated humanitarian who fought to end world hunger; he was a key player in the cr… more »

There's a kid out on my corner, hear him strumming like a fool
 Shivering in his dungerees, but still he's going to school 
His cheeks are made of peach fuzz -- his hopes may be the same 
But he's signed up as a soldier out to play the music game 

 There are fake patches on his jacket -- he's used bleach to fade his jeans 
With a brand new stay pressed shirt -- and some creased and wrinkled dreams 
His face a blemish garden -- but his eyes are virgin clear 
His voice is Chicken Little's -- But he's hearing Paul Revere 

When he catches himself giggling -- he forces up a sneer 
 Though he'd rather have a milk shake -- he keeps forcing down the beer 
Just another folkie -- late in coming down the pike 
 Riding his guitar -- he left Kid brother with his bike 

And he's got Guthrie running in his bones 
He's the hobo kid who's left his home 
And his Beatles records and the Rolling Stones 
This boy is staying acoustic 

There's Seeger singing in his heart 
He hopes his songs will somehow start 
To heal the cracks that split apart 
 America gone plastic 

And now there's Dylan dripping from his mouth 
He's hitching himself way down south 
To learn a little black and blues 
From old street men who paid their dues 

'Cause they knew they had nothing to lose 
They knew it 
So they just got to it 
With cracked old Gibsons and red clay shoes 

 Playing 1-4-5 chords like good news 
And cursed with skin that calls for blood 
They put their face and feet in mud 
But oh they learned the music from way down there 

The real ones learn it somewhere 
 Strum your guitar -- sing it kid 
Just write about your feelings -- not the things you never did 
 Inexperience -- it once had cursed me 

But your youth is no handicap -- it's what makes you thirsty 
Hey, kid you know you can hear your footsteps as you're kicking up the dust 
And the rustling in the shadows tells you secrets you can trust 
The capturing of whispers is the way to write a song 

It's when you get to microphones the music can go wrong 
You can't see the audience with spotlights in your eyes 
Your feet can't feel the highway from where the Lear jet flies 
When you glide in silent splendor in your padded limousines 

Only you are crying there behind the silver screen 
Now you battle dragons -- but they'll all turn into frogs 
When you grab the wheel of fortune -- you get caught up in the cogs 
 First your art turns into craft -- then the yahoos start to laugh 

Then you'll hear the jackals howl 'cause they love to watch the fall 
They're the lost ones out there feeding on the wounded and the bleeding 
They always are the first to see the cracks upon the walls 
When I started this song I was still thirty-three 

The age that Mozart died and sweet Jesus was set free 
 Keats and Shelley too soon finished, Charley Parker would be 
And I fantasized some tragedy'd be soon curtailing me 
Well just today I had my birthday -- I made it thirty-four 

Mere mortal, not immortal, not star-crossed anymore 
I've got this problem with my aging I no longer can ignore 
A tame and toothless tabby can't produce a lion's roar 
And I can't help being frightened on these midnight afternoons 

When I ask the loaded questions -- Why does winter come so soon? 
And where are all the golden girls that I was singing for 
The daybreak chorus of my dreams serenades no more 
Yeah the minute man is going soft -- the mirror's on the shelf 

Only when the truth's up there -- can you fool yourself 
I am the aged jester -- who won't gracefully retire 
A clumsy clown without a net caught staggering on the high wire 
Yesterday's a collar that has settled round my waist 

 Today keeps slipping by me, it leaves no aftertaste 
 Tomorrow is a daydream, the future's never true 
Am I just a fading fire or a breeze passing through? 
 Hello my Country 

I once came to tell everyone your story 
Your passion was my poetry 
And your past my most potent glory 
Your promise was my prayer 

Your hypocrisy my nightmare 
And your problems fill my present 
Are we both going somewhere? 
Step right up young lady -- Your two hundred birthdays make you old if not

And we see the symptoms there in your rigor mortis smile 
With your old folks eating dog food and your children eating paint 
 While the pirates own the flag and sell us sermons on restraint 

And while blood's the only language that your deaf old ears can hear 
And still you will not answer with that message coming clear 
Does it mean there's no more ripples in your tired old glory stream 
And the buzzards own the carcass of your dream? 

B*U*Y Centennial 
Sell 'em pre-canned laughter 
 American Perennial 
Sing happy ever after 

There's a Dance Band on the Titanic 
 Singing Nearer My God to Thee 
And the iceberg's on the starboard bow 
Won't you dance with me 

Yes I read it in the New York Times 
That was on the stands today 
It said that dreams were out of fashion 
We'll hear no more empty promises 

There'll be no more wasted passions 
To clutter up our play 
It really was a good sign 
The words went on to say 

It shows that we are growing up 
In oh so many healthy ways 
And I told myself this is 
 Exactly where I'm at 

But I don't much like thinking about that 
 Harry -- are you really so naive 
You can honestly believe 
That the country's getting better 

When all you do is let her alone 
 Harry -- Can you really be surprised 
When it's there before your eyes 
When you hold the knife that carves her 

You live the life that starves her to the bone 
Good dreams don't come cheap 
You've got to pay for them 
If you just dream when you're asleep 

 There is no way for them 
To come alive 
To survive 
It's not enough to listen -- it's not enough to see 

When the hurricane is coming on it's not enough to flee 
It's not enough to be in love -- we hide behind that word 
It's not enough to be alive when your future's been deferred 
What I've run through my body, what I've run through my mind 

My breath's the only rhythm -- and the tempo is my time 
My enemy is hopelessness -- my ally honest doubt 
The answer is a question that I never will find out 
Is music propaganda -- should I boogie, Rock and Roll 

Or just an early warning system hitched up to my soul 
Am I observer or participant or huckster of belief 
 Making too much of a life so mercifully brief? 
So I stride down sunny streets and the band plays back my song 

They're applauding at my shadow long after I am gone 
 Should I hold this wistful notion that the journey is worthwhile 
Or tiptoe cross the chasm with a song and a smile 
Well I got up this morning -- I don't need to know no more 

It evaporated nightmares that had boiled the night before 
With every new day's dawning my kid climbs in my bed 
And tells the cynics of the board room your language is dead 
And as I wander with my music through the jungles of despair 

My kid will learn guitar and find his street corner somewhere 
 There he'll make the silence listen to the dream behind the voice 
And show his minstrel Hamlet daddy that there only was one choice 
 Strum your guitar -- sing it kid 

Just write about your feelings -- not the things you never did 
 Inexperience -- it once had cursed me 
But your youth is no handicap -- it's what makes you thirsty, hey kid
 Strum your guitar -- sing it kid 

Just write about your feelings -- not the things you never did 
 Dance Band...

Written by: HARRY F. CHAPIN

Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Lyrics Licensed & Provided by LyricFind

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There Only Was One Choice