Harry Chapin - Remember When The Music

First performance: 07/12/1987


Bruce played the song only once:
1987-12-07 Carnegie Hall, New York City, NY 
Played during "The Harry Chapin Tribute" in an acoustic version. Various Artists gala concert held in honour of the late singer/songwriter Harry Chapin's 45th birthday and his posthumous awarding of the Special Congressional Gold Medal. The medal was presented to his son Joshua Chapin and laid to rest on an empty stool with Harry's guitar leaning against it. The gala was hosted by Harry Belafonte and Sandy Chapin. "Remember when the music" was the only song performed by Bruce Springsteen at the event. He played it solo on acoustic guitar and harmonica, and introduced it with a humorous story about how Harry Chapin relentlessly lobbied him to become more involved in social issues. The 07 Dec 1987 concert at Carnegie Hall, including Springsteen's rendition of Remember when the music, was released in July 1990 on the various artists album Harry Chapin Tribute.
A live version is released on Harry Chapin Tribute.


"Remember When the Music" is a song written and performed by Harry Chapin. The song was included on his 1980 album, Sequel. The song is the next chronological single from his hit single, "Sequel" from the same album. The song was written as a tribute to Allard K. Lowenstein, a New York senator who was shot and killed in 1980. Chapin also states that the song became more apparent when John Lennon was killed. The song has three different versions. It consists of a reprise, which is an acoustic take on the song. The second version is the regular song, that was released as a single. The third version is very similar to the second version, with only minor differences. Bruce actually covered the "Reprise" version, The acoustic track contains an additional verse not included in the full band version of "Remember When the Music" that appears earlier in the album.

Other cover versions

Bruce on the artist

Bruce did a speech during the song (at:3:50) about the sense of music and what Harry Chapin tought him about it :
"I met Harry (Chapin) in 1978, I was in a studio, he was.....making a record in another studio....he came smiling up to me and started talking to me....and 20 minutes went by, 30 minutes went by...he talked about everything, politics, music.....nice guy....next night he came in....Harry comes (?) smiling, starts talking to me....30 minutes goes by ....so finally ....I used to try to hide from him.....I´d come in, I’d ask the secretary if Harry was in the lobby....and I’d sneak into the studio.....so we went out to California to mix and....I was standing on this balcony (?) of this motel....and I hear ‘Hey, hey !”, I looked down and it’s Harry....and he starts talking to me....so he’ll speak about 40 minutes....standing down there, looking up....he was trying to get me to do something ....he said one thing that I’ll always remembet, he said ‘Gee, you know, I play one night for me, one night for the other guy’....and later on I was trying to put my ....music to some pragmatic use, I remembered what he said....not being bent to extremism, I wasn’t as generous as he was ....but he’s probably laughing, laughing right now....I’ll do this for him...."

(...) I remember when Sandy sent me this tape I listened to it and I said ´Gee, this is a little on the corny side´...and I sat down and I tried to think.....what the song was about ....and I guess there was a time when people....felt that music....provided you with a greater...oh, a greater sense of unity....a greater sense of shared vision and purpose that it does today....and my generation we were the generation that was gonna change the world....somehow we were gonna make it a little less lonely....a little less hungry....a little more just place....but it seems that when.....when that promise slipped through our hands we didn´t replace it with nothing but....but lost faith....and now we live in, uh.... times are pretty shattered, I got my music, you´ve got yours, the guy on the street, he´s got his....and you could kind of sit back and say not cynically but truthfully: ´Well, maybe....maybe all men are not brothers....and maybe we won´t ever know who or what we really are to each other´....but I think Harry instinctively knew that it was gonna take a lot more than just love to survive, that it was gonna take a strong sense of purpose, of duty....and a good clear eye on the dirty ways of the world....so in keeping ....in keeping his promise to himself....he reminds us of our promise to ourselves....and that tonight.....alongside Harry, it´s that promise that his spirit would have us remember and honor and recommit to....so do something and may his song be sung.."
Bruce continues to tip his hat to Chapin through his ongoing support for WhyHunger, the non-profit Chapin started. 


Remember when the music
Came from wooden boxes strung with silver wire
And as we sang the words, it would set our minds on fire
For we believed in things, and so we'd sing

Remember when the music
Brought us all together to stand inside the rain
And as we'd join our hands, we'd meet in the refrain
For we had dreams to live and we had hopes to give

Don't you remember when the music
Was the best of what we dreamed of for our children's time
And as we sang we worked, for we knew time was just a line
A gift we saved, a gift the future gave

Oh, all the times I listened, and all the times I heard
All the melodies I'm missing, and all the magic words
And all those potent voices, and the choices we had then
How I'd love to find we had that kind of choice again

Remember when the music
Was a glow on the horizon of every newborn day
And as we sang, the sun came up to chase the dark away
And life was good, for we knew we could

Remember when the music
Brought the night across the valley as the day went down
And as we'd hum the melody, we'd be safe inside the sound
And so we'd sleep, for we had dreams to keep

And I dream that something's coming, and it's not just in the wind
It's more than just tomorrow, it's more than where we've been
It offers me a promise, it's telling me, "Begin"
I know we're needing something worth believing in

Remember when the music
Came from wooden boxes strung with silver wire
And as we sang the words, it would set our minds on fire
For we believed in things, and so we'd sing
And so we'd sing

(Singing through the night, ah, oh, I wanna hear their voices ringing, hear the people singing, oh
singing through the night, feel the music in your heart, whoa)