A Better Place To Be Lyrics - Harry Chapin

Review The Song (10)



It was an early morning bar room,
And the place just opened up.
And the little man came in so fast and
he Started at his cups.
And the broad who served the whisky
She was a big old friendly girl.
Who tried to fight her empty nights
By smilin' at the world.

And she said "Hey Bub, It's, It's been awhile
Since you been around.
Where the hell you been hidin'?
And why you look so down?"

Well the little man just sat there
like he'd never heard a sound.

The waitress she gave out with a cough,
And acting not the least put off,
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She spoke once again.

She said, "I don't want to bother you,
Consider it's understood.
I know I'm not no beauty queen,
But I sure can listen good."

And the little man took his drink in his hand
And he raised it to his lips.
He took a couple of sips.
And then he told the waitress this story.

"I am the midnight watchman down at Miller's Tool and Die.
And I watch the metal rusting, I watch the time go by.
A week ago at the diner I stopped to get a bite.
And this here lovely lady she sat two seats from my right.
And Lord, Lord, Lord she was alright.

You see, she was so damned beautiful that she could warm a winter frost.
But she looked long past lonely, and well nigh on to lost.
Now I'm not much of a mover, or a pick-em-up easy guy,
But I decided to glide on over, and give her one good try.
And Lord, Lord, Lord she was worth a try.

Well I was "Tongued-tied like a school boy, I stammered out some words.
It did not seem to matter much, 'cause I don't think she heard.
She just looked clear on through me to a space back in my head.
It shamed me into silence, as quietly she said,
'If you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me.
Cause I know I'm going nowhere, and anywhere's a better place to be.
Anywhere's a better place to be.'

Well I drove her to my boarding house, and I took her up to my room.
And I went to turn on the only light to brighten up the gloom.
But she said, 'Please leave the light off, oh I don't mind the dark.'
And as her clothes all tumbled 'round her, I could hear my heart.
The moonlight shone upon her as she lay back in my bed.
It was the kind of scene I only had imagined in my head.
I just could not believe it, to think that she was real.
And as I tried to tell her she said 'Shhh.. I know just how you feel.
And if you want to come here with me, then that's all right with me.
'Cause I've been oh so lonely, lovin' someone is a better way to be.
anywhere's a better place to be.'

Well The morning come so swiftly I held her in my arms.
And she slept like a baby, snug and safe from harm.
I did not want to share her with the world or break the mood,
So before she woke I went out to buy us both some food.

"I came back with my paper bag, to find that she was gone.
She'd left a six word letter saying 'It's time that I moved on.'"

You know The waitress she took her bar rag, and she wiped it across her eyes. And as she spoke her voice came out as something like a sigh.
She said "I wish that I was beautiful, or that you were halfway blind.
And I wish I weren't so goddamn fat, I wish that you were mine.
And I wish that you'd come with me, when I leave for home.
For we both know all about emptiness, and livin' all alone."

And the little man, Looked at the empty glass in his hand.
And he smiled a crooked grin, He said, "I, I guess I'm out of gin.
And I know we both have been, so lonely. And if you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me. 'Cause I know I'm goin' nowhere and anywhere's a better place to be."



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The Day The Music Died | Reviewer: WhistleBerries | 7/30/12

For me, The Day The Music Died, was July 16, 1981, shortly after noon Eastern Time. That is when Harry Forster Chapin died as a result of a vehicle collision on the Long Island Expressway. Some speculate that Harry suffered a heart attack while driving, resulting in his car swerving and crossing traffic lanes and being hit by a truck...

Ten years earlier, in 1971, Don McLean wrote and sang a song, American Pie, wherein he mentions “The Day The Music Died.” More likely than not, (no one really knows for sure), Don McLean was paying homage to Buddy Holly, Jiles Perry Richardson, Jr. aka “The Big Bopper,” and Ritchie Valens, all of whom died in a plane crash on February 3, 1959. However, for me, The Day The Music Died happened with the death of Harry Chapin.

Harry and I had three things in common. Both of us were born in 1942, me in October, and Harry in December. Both of us graduated from different high schools in 1960. Both of us served in the U.S. Air Force. It was a brief U.S. Air Force Academy stint for Harry, while I served for almost four years. (I received a 31 day “early out” so I could return to college.)

It was sometime on a Sunday afternoon, during July or August of 1976, when I was driving from San Jose to Monterey, CA on HWY 101. I had the radio tuned to a radio station playing “soft rock” music. As I was driving and listening, a song was making me so sad, I found myself pouring tears. Not just a few tears, but lots and lots of tears. The only other time that had ever happened to me was once when I heard Kate Smith sing, God Bless America.

I have always had the ability to read words, or hear words, and get pictures in my mind. The song I had just listened to gave me a short story, a movie if you will, in my mind. It ended with the haunting verse of “…And if you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me. 'Cause I know I'm goin' nowhere and anywhere's a better place to be."

I waited for the DJ to mention the song title and singer, but that never happened. The next day, I called the radio station to learn that it was Harry Chapin singing, “A Better Place To Be.”

Several months later, my wife Sue Ann, and I got to meet Harry Chapin. We made the choice to make a small donation to the campaign of Leon Panetta, who was running for congress. On the Monterey Peninsula, Leon Panetta had an outstanding reputation, and was considered one of the good guys of politician wannabes. We wanted to help him in some way.

We received an invitation to a performance by Harry Chapin in Santa Cruz, across the bay from Monterey. At the Santa Cruz Auditorium, Harry sat in a chair on the stage, played his guitar and sang his stories for quite some time. In fact, Harry Chapin stopped only when his voice became very raspy.

Afterward, there was a small gathering for wine and cheese, to meet the candidate and performer, at a home in Santa Cruz. It was both interesting and fun to meet Leon Panetta and Harry Chapin. Sue and I bought Harry Chapin’s poetry book and he signed it for us. In talking with Harry Chapin, he seemed like a regular guy, who had a focus on ending hunger, and supporting “good guys” who were running for congress.

Harry Chapin left us far too early, but with many good memories. “Cats in the Cradle,” written by Harry's wife, was his only #1 big hit. Yet there were many other memorable stories that Harry Chapin wrote and sang, including, Taxi, Sequel, Mr.Tanner, All My Life’s A Circle, and dozens of other folk rock songs.

Most people do not know it, but Harry Chapin gave away most of the money he earned, so he could support various causes, and to try to end world hunger, and hunger within the U.S. Harry Chapin was a humanitarian who believed that actions meant far more than words. In other words, Harry Chapin was not an “ATNA.” He was not a person who was “All Talk, No Action.” Harry Chapin saw things that needed some help and he took action to do something about it.

31 years after his death, July 16, 2012, passed without any mention of Harry. It could be better, it if everyone who reads this would give a small donation to his or her local food bank, in memory of Harry Chapin. I am planning to do that, with a bag of groceries I will buy just for that purpose. If “sharing is caring,” Harry Chapin set an outstanding example for all of us to follow.


It's time that i moved on | Reviewer: kevatcairns | 10/16/11

I was introduced to Harry with the 'Live'album .
Late 70's I think ! Insightful lyrics,performed with passion ! Have you noticed how words diminish important things ? Though they are the hardest to say ,words shrink things that seemed limitless when they were in your head,to no more than living size when they are brought to the surface.you somehow get ashamed of them.You may reveal things that cost you dearly,only to have people look at you in that funny way,not understanding why you thought it was so important that you almost cried in the telling,That's maybe the worst---when the secret stays locked within--not for the want of a teller---but for the want of an understanding ear! Somehow Harry captures those important thoughts---puts them on paper--puts them to music---and finds that understanding ear !Few of his songs epitomise this more than 'A Better Place To Be'

Growing up with Harry | Reviewer: Todd Davis | 2/7/11

I was born in 1969 and my parents were big Harry fans - they went to several concerts in Lincoln and Omaha, NE whenever he came to the area. I heard this song several times over as a kid and while I think I understood the gist of it, it resonates so much more as an adult. I'm sad I never got a chance to enjoy one of his shows, and that the world lost a true troubadour so early.

A Better Place to Be | Reviewer: Dave | 8/11/10

I remember in 1979 or 1980 I was in a little bar in upstate NY and when I walked in there was Harry Chapin. It was a little hole in the wall. My friend and I chatted with him for a few hours while he played all by himself to about 15 of us in this bar. What a magical moment. I see he has touched several others. He was just a great down to earth guy who would talk and hang out with anybody. He wasn't caught up in being a star. He sang this song for me that night because it is my favorite song. The world truly lost a great guy. RIP Harry. You have touched me deeply.

chapin's | Reviewer: David | 3/8/10

Like everyone, I grew up listening to the chapin's, first it was tom, on sunday morning, his music touched me deeply, never knew he had a brother that made music until much later, I fist heard taxi when I go home from vietnam in 1973, listened to it over, and over, been listening ever since, and before, but a better place to be touches all of me, I make sure I listen to it in good times, and bad, for either way it lifts me up, I was fortunate to see tom,harry, and the band in nc some time before his death, and like many others, got to meet them, and spoke for a few minutes about their food program, and their music, nicest 2 people I have ever meet before, and since, sorry we lost harry, glad we still have tom, they live, and so do we, thank you for such wonderful music, and such lives of love..

Unforgettable evening | Reviewer: Scott Sramek | 11/28/09

In 1973, as a Junior in college at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, I had the privilege to not only see Harry Chapin perform in concert, but to later hang out for several hours with him and his band after the show. His performance of A Better Place to Be remains one of the fondest memories of any concert I have ever attended. It was absolutely captivating, you literally could have heard a pin drop in the auditorium. I consider it to be the best "story" song I have ever heard. He was a true artist, gentleman and one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met.

Painting pictures with words | Reviewer: Rev Mr Black | 11/16/09

I don't know how many times I've heard this song - or how many times I've sang it to myself - but each time is an emotional first. The song cuts to the common level that everyone exists on - no matter how connected we are with others, each of us shares the level of emptiness this song touches. I, for one, find it cathartic.

A Better Place to Be | Reviewer: Forrest Ward | 10/10/09

In was '73, I was teaching school in AustinTX when a student gave me the LP of Harry's "Sniper & Other Love Songs". I played it until the grooves were inches deep ... going through all the emotions all those songs were about, especially this one song. In '81, I got to meet Harry when he came to Austin to do a fundraiser for "World Hunger Now", his organization. In '85, I was at the Kerrvile Folk Festival & had the pleasure of meeting Tom Chapin. I even got to sing with Tom Chapin when he sang "Circles" at the Sunday morning non-denominational church service (thank goodness someone videoed it).
The impact of both Harry & Tom has been indelible on my life. (I used to watch "Make a Wish" on PBS with Tom hosting Harry's work for children.)
But "A Better Place To Be" hits a tapestry in all of our lives. It is a movie, vividly told. It is raw emotions, which are strongly brought out when just reading the lyrics, but even more intense when Harry sings it with John's incredible cello & tenor voice accompanying him.
Every song of his is intense. If a person is not willing to be moved by Harry's creativity would do well to listen anyway. Hopefully, you will get past anything that stops you & you will join the human race. Harry pointed the way. Tom is still here to share with, too. I am better for it all. You will be, too.

Like Standing in a Movie | Reviewer: June Starshine | 6/30/08

a make-shift walkman on my head and my five year old daughter sleeping at my side, I traveled 'cross the countryside with Harry Chapin singing in my ear in 1983. It was after Harry's untimely death that I had my awareness of his incredible storytelling within his music. "A Better Place to Be" played in my ear as I gazed at the countryside from the window of the Greyhound bus. I was standing in a movie, experiencing heartfelt genius put to music. I've since met Tom Chapin on several occasions and I feel a great endearment to the Chapin family and a deep gratitude to each of them for their contribution to this world. Thanks for making our world a BETTER PLACE TO BE.

A masterful job | Reviewer: Anonymous | 5/6/07

Happry Chapin died much too soon. His ability to weave a tale is sorely missed. And man o man, that little man was sure slick as hell.



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------ Performed by Harry Chapin

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------ 10/24/2014

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