Mr. Tanner

Album: Short Stories (1974)
  • Harry Chapin was constantly traveling and often drew inspiration from stories he came across dealing with interesting people. He got the idea for this song after reading about Martin Tubridy, who was a cleaner from Ohio who loved to sing. Tubridy got the chance to perform in New York City, but was panned in a review that appeared in The New York Times. The spoken part in the song is taken from that review, with some artistic license. The actual review from February 17, 1972, read: "Martin Tubridy, a bass baritone who came to Town Hall on Tuesday night to give his second New York recital, performed songs by Beethoven, Schubert, Vaughan Williams, Britten and others. He was accompanied on the piano by Mitchell Andrews. Mr. Tubridy's voice seemed quite limited in amplitude, range and flexibility, and it was probably because of this that his interpretations lacked force and strong communicative power. He was well prepared and sang conscientiously, but the results were not up to generally accepted levels of professional accomplishment." (Read more about Harry in our interview with Sandy Chapin.)

Comments: 1

  • Jon from Rancho Cucamonga, CaIn the interview with Mrs. Chapin she explains how he connected so immensely with this singer's plight because Harry had gone thru an almost identical situation before he became successful. This is my favorite Chapin song and a huge shout out to BIG JOHN!
see more comments

Paul WilliamsSongwriter Interviews

He's a singer and an actor, but as a songwriter Paul helped make Kermit a cultured frog, turned a bank commercial into a huge hit and made love both "exciting and new" and "soft as an easy chair."

David Clayton-Thomas of Blood, Sweat & TearsSongwriter Interviews

The longtime BS&T frontman tells the "Spinning Wheel" story, including the line he got from Joni Mitchell.

80s Video Director Jay DubinSong Writing

Billy Joel and Hall & Oates hated making videos, so they chose a director with similar contempt for the medium. That was Jay Dubin, and he has a lot to say on the subject.

Susanna Hoffs - "Eternal Flame"They're Playing My Song

The Prince-penned "Manic Monday" was the first song The Bangles heard coming from a car radio, but "Eternal Flame" is closest to Susanna's heart, perhaps because she sang it in "various states of undress."

Vanessa CarltonSongwriter Interviews

The "A Thousand Miles" singer on what she thinks of her song being used in White Chicks and how she captured a song from a dream.

Ben Kowalewicz of Billy TalentSongwriter Interviews

The frontman for one of Canada's most well-known punk rock bands talks about his Eddie Vedder encounter, Billy Talent's new album, and the importance of rock and roll.