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There Only Was One Choice Lyrics

Artist: Harry Chapin
Album: Dance Band on the Titanic

There's a kid out on my corner -- hear him strumming like a fool
Shivering in his dungarees -- 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 cog

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 senile
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
America 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...


by andrewb on 6/1/2008 9:09pm
This is beyond music, it is poetry and a story of life. Wow, there are 10 songs here. It's choppy, but the more I here it, the more I am brought to tears.
by zane on 6/6/2008 10:53pm
Hands down, the best lyrics ever
by Patchcat on 3/2/2009 2:47am
This is real. Love it. As true today as when it was written.
by Amanda on 5/20/2009 11:47pm
Heard this song for the first time today...

I am changed. I hate that so few of my generation know Harry's music. I want to change that.
by Connor on 6/23/2010 10:36pm
I can't belive how Harry changes you. No mater what of his you'll listen to (-:
by Aaron on 11/30/2010 8:40am
What really gets me is the line, "And I fantasize some tragedy be soon curtailing me". He somehow knew. I miss you Harry!
by Joetheash on 2/24/2011 11:39pm
I think I first heard this song when I was 22. Now I'm 56 and they are still some of the best lyrics ever written.
by Cozmik Debris on 1/29/2012 9:51am
It's Harry Chapin.... From Taxi to Sequel and every word and note in between Harry tried to tell us how fragile life and love are and how blessed we are to have both. His message was never muddled or confused and he knew where both he and the world around him were headed and every word of every lyric was a warning to all of us... live, really live while you are able and that the only real life was helping others to a better one. If ever there actually lived a true "seer", a real visionary capable of true prognostication, it was not Nostradamus or Rasputin and certainly not Jean Dixon or 1-900- Future... It was Harry Chapin and his legacy to us all is that his music made this world "A Better Place To Be"
by Jim on 11/22/2012 6:04am
"I fantacize some tragedy be soon curtailing me". Did Harry Chapin commit suicide? I have always wondered.
What a musician, what a human being. Will always be my favorite.
by Fan on 11/30/2012 9:57pm
Harry Chapin didn't commit suicide, he was struck and killed by a drunk driver while on his way to a benefit concert.
by Yen on 1/26/2013 12:08pm
I'll never forget that day, family and friends we all morned Harry that day. (I lived on long island and remember local radio station WRCN saying it happened) my step father still has a "Harry it sucks" t shirt and I still donate money when I can to World Hunger Year
No one tells it like Harry did.
by Rob on 1/28/2013 3:57pm
Rereading the words to this incredible song brings meaning and understanding to Chapins short life. I was fortunate to see him in many concerts and miss him dearly.
by John on 2/25/2013 5:59am
This tune has haunted me for over 30 years. Poetry, philosophy, insight and common sense rolled into one epic lyric. Hard to imagine a man only 36ish could understand so much...his demons, I guess. When you experienced Harry in concert, you and everyone there were held in the palm of his hand, and you didn't want to be let go. God bless you, Harry, for the mark you left on music and humanity and your contribution to World Hunger. Sandy, thank you for sharing this incredible individual with the world. He will not be forgotten.
by tennessee on 3/25/2013 5:15am
yeah, sandy doesn't deserve thanks, unless you meant it sarcastically, which I don't think you did. she likes to act like she was at the forefront of all of Harry's business, musical, charitable, etc., when in actuality she is a mindless asshole.
by Carla on 8/9/2013 4:08pm
Harry's songs made you feel like you were there, experiencing every moment...'Cats in the Cradle','30,000 Pounds of Bananas','Corey's Coming','A Better Place to Be','The Rock' He contributed much to the world through his music and generosity. There will never be anyone quite like Harry.
by Lennis on 7/19/2017 3:41pm
Best storyteller of all time.

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