Singer-songwriter Chapin entertains, educatesWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
“Zombie Bank.” “Yo-Yo’s Ma.” “Go Away, Sarah Palin.” “Billy the Squid.” “Econo-Me-Oh-My.”
It’s clear Tom Chapin has fun whether he’s singing for kids or adults.
Consider his latest release, “Give Peas a Chance.” There’s an ode to picky eaters: “Don’t Try It on Me.”
“I’ve had picky eaters in my kids and my grandchildren; I’ve been on the other side of it,” he said during a call from his home in Rockingham County, N.Y.. “We had great fun with some of the words: tried calamari, tried couscous, ratatouille and baba ganoush.”
Released in June, Chapin’s 12th disc for families is billed as “whole grain music for free-ranging earthlings.”
“I’ve been a board member for WhyHunger, the organization that my late brother, Harry, started 36 years ago. And I’ve become very aware that when you start talking about hunger and poverty, you inevitably begin to talk about food and where it comes from and who grows it and what they grow and why, and who controls the land,” Chapin said.
“I thought this would be really a good thing to talk to the family about in a nonpolemic way, just write songs in the Tom Chapin canon, try to write delightful songs that are really singable and yet have some information in them for parents and kids.”
Chapin also finds amusement writing for adults. National Public Radio (NPR) asked if he’d be interested in penning some political, news-related songs.
“I got together with John Forster, who I’ve been writing the kids stuff with, and Michael Mark, and over the years we’ve written a bunch of songs that we tried to get on NPR; it’s a specific kind of writing, which John Forster calls ‘musical op-eds,’ ” he said and laughed.
“One got on about testing called ‘Not on the Test,’ which is now actually a website, and we did a video for it because it got such a response, and one about when Oprah started her magazine,” the Grammy Award winner said.
In 2010, Chapin and Forster released “Broadsides,” a collection of songs written for NPR.
Another song, “This Pretty Planet,” was played by NASA in 1998 to wake up the space shuttle Discovery crew.
Millions woke up to the Emmy and Peabody award-winning “Make a Wish,” a TV show the formerly mustachioed musician hosted from 1971-76.
These days, the singer-songwriter provokes thought — and laughter.
There’s that Internet hit about the former vice presidential candidate.
“It was my band and myself riffing on how much publicity she got even after the election, so we wrote this silly little song,” he said and then sang, “Go away, Sarah Palin, go away/ You had more airtime than Britney or O.J./ Your ideas were unspecific/ But your outfits were terrific/ Go away, Sarah Palin, go away.”
“The first time we sang it, someone in the audience at this little club in Piermont, N.Y., videotaped it and put it up on YouTube, and that got a huge life.”
Chapin will play at 8 p.m. Nov. 3 at the Ark in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $22.50. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
“I’ll probably do [Harry’s] ‘Cats in the Cradle’ and I’ll certainly do ‘Circle,’ ” he said. “We have a request line on the website [tomchapin.com], so people can request songs. It’s a nice way of connecting.”