Sniper

Album: Sniper & Other Love Songs (1972)

Songfacts®:

  • Harry Chapin wrote this nearly 10-minute song after reading a newspaper article about Charles Whitman, who went on a shooting rampage at the University of Texas, killing 14 people and wounding 32 before he was killed by police. Chapin's song is far from a literal account, and it was typical of his writing to use a story or an observation as a starting point for a song. "30,000 Pounds Of Bananas" is another example of a song he based on a real event, but with lots of liberties. (Read more about Harry in our interview with Sandy Chapin.)
  • Chapin's 1972 debut album Heads & Tales got a lot of attention thanks to the hit "Taxi." Sniper & Other Love Songs was his next album, released later that year. The songs were rather dark, and it sold poorly. Chapin began building his fanbase back up with his next release, Short Stories (1973), then issued his most successful album, Verities & Balderdash, in 1974.
  • This played in a dramatic scene in Chapin's 1975 Broadway musical The Night That Made America Famous, in which he performed the song on a diving board as footage from the Kennedy assassination played on a screen.

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