Julie Benesh ~ Three Dates with Harry Chapin: Story Songs

December 14, 1977 Civic Center, Cedar Rapids Iowa: I Wanna Learn a Love Song

L was into Harry. I wore a cham­bray den­im shirt with black vel­veteen col­lar, cuffs and stays. We held hands in the cheap seats—You can always count on the cheap seats! We were seniors in high school, in love, although we nev­er said so.

That spring L start­ed play­ing soc­cer and quit call­ing me. Ended up mar­ry­ing one of our high school class­mates, had two daugh­ters, re-embraced reli­gion and became a paper­back writer.


June 28, 1979 Southern Illinois University Edwardsville Outdoors: A Better Place to Be

It was my idea. Hot and humid, and even­tu­al­ly a thun­der­storm passed over. I wore den­im cut-offs and a gauzy white top. My col­lege boyfriend B wait­ed with me in line in the rain for Harry to kiss me for the sake of world hunger.

Beginning of the end. A few months lat­er, I would meet R, the man I would marry.


April 24, 1980 Kiel Opera House St. Louis: Dreams Go By

My 20th birth­day. I got and paid for the tick­ets myself. I start­ed cry­ing mid-con­cert, because Harry was singing all the songs in the wrong order, and I felt respon­si­ble. I cried all over R’s short sleeve but­ton down shirt, and he said he was hon­ored. May 6, 1981 we eloped.

July 16, 1981 Harry died. I kept the mus­tard yel­low T‑shirt with the line draw­ing of a gui­tar for a long time.

Got divorced in 1992, but I still feel like a widow.


A grad­u­ate of Warren Wilson College’s Program for Writers, Julie Benesh is recip­i­ent of an Illinois Arts Council Grant and her writ­ing can be found in Bestial Noise: A Tin House Fiction Reader, Tin House Magazine (print), Crab Orchard Review, Florida Review, Gulf Stream, Cleaver, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and oth­er places. Originally from Iowa, Julie now lives in Chicago where she works as a man­age­ment con­sul­tant, pro­fes­sor of busi­ness psy­chol­o­gy, and high­er edu­ca­tion leader and teach­es cre­ative writ­ing at The Newberry Library. Reach her at juliebnsh@gmail.com