For those of you who are young lawyers, you likely saw the headline and thought: Who is Harry Chapin?(Click to find out). He is a singer who inspired me early in my adult life and continues to inspire me today.

Even if you are a young lawyer who never heard of him, you probably know his most famous song: “Cat’s in the Cradle.” It is about a father who is too busy with work to be present for his son’s birth and too busy with work to play catch with his son. Later, the son has his own family and is too busy to bring the family to visit his mom and dad. The father laments:

As I hung up the phone, it occurred to me, He’d grown up just like me. My boy was just like me.

Through that song, I determined I would always make time to be with Jill and we would regularly have special father-daughter times.

I learned from another Harry Chapin song: “Dreams Go By.”  It is about a couple who has dreams while in school, but they must wait to pursue them. They get married and decide to have children first. Later when they are getting ready to pick up their grandchildren, they lament:

But I guess our dreams have come and gone. You gotta dream when you are young.

From this song, I learned to have big dreams and not to put off trying to accomplish them. After Jill was born, I decided to take control of my future. Much to the chagrin of my partners who wanted nothing more of me than to litigate their clients’ cases, I decided I would focus on construction law and issues faced by highway and bridge contractors. My career dream was to become the best transportation construction lawyer in the United States, and I developed a plan to pursue that dream.

I learned from the way Harry lived. Harry was one of the first to raise consciousness and funds to change the world. Some singers would sing at one benefit, but not Harry. It is reported that he contributed the proceeds from 130 of his more than 200 concerts each year to help the cause. He was on his way to perform a free concert in 1982 when he was killed in an automobile accident.

So, learning from Harry Chapin ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you spending quality time with your family?
  • Are you living the dream you have for yourself?
  • What are you doing to help those in need and to make the world, your country or your community a better place?

P.S. I have six copies of DVD featuring Harry Chapin in concert and his family talking about him. Here is a link to one of my favorite parts that I watched yesterday for inspiration. “Yes, we’ll all get together again and again” :

If you would like a one, let me know and I will send it on a first come first served basis.

 

  • Cordell, I have always enjoyed Harry Chapin’s music and I was also inspired by him as an artist and family man. Needless to say, I was deeply affected by his untimely death. If you have an extra copy of the DVD, I would certainly enjoy listening to it.
    Thanks for your post and have a great day.

  • Great post Cordell. Caused me to consider my own priorities. No need to send me a CD, just keep up the valuable posts.
    Bill

  • Cordell Parvin

    I never expected the reaction I received to my post about Harry Chapin. I received the two comments here, 10 emails from lawyers and even a telephone call. The connection that we share to what Harry Chapin sang about and his humanitarian efforts caused me to remember his epitaph, which is taken from his song “I Wonder What Would Happen to this World.” It is:
    Oh if a man tried
    To take his time on Earth
    And prove before he died
    What one man’s life could be worth
    I wonder what would happen
    to this world
    So, thanks to all of you who took time to let me know this post resonated with you.