In 1969 Tom Chapin was the sound guy on a film crew that spent several months at sea in search of great white sharks. The footage resulted in the spooky nature thriller Blue Water, White Death. Director Jim Lipscomb also included footage of Chapin’s shipboard singing, from which he culled the movie’s soundtrack. Blue Water, White Death was the first time an underwater film crew went eye-to-eye with great whites and is said to have inspired Steven Spielberg during the making of Jaws. Perhaps this adventure also served to inspire Chapin, who comes from a strong musical family, to take a job later in life as host of National Geographic Explorer.
Tom Chapin started performing in the late 1950s, and since 1976 he has released 20 albums of folk music. His first shot at stardom was with his brothers Steve and Harry. Harry went on to fame and an early grave; he recorded a hit about a taxi driver and another about growing up called “Cat’s in the Cradle.” Tom Chapin came out of the Greenwich Village folk revival and tried, like many folkies, to carry the Pete Seeger flame — to lukewarm reception. But sometime during the 1980s, Chapin redefined himself and created Sesame Street–ish children’s music, for which he has received five Grammy nominations.
Simple, effective, and carefree, even Chapin’s adult music now comes off like a child’s garden of rhymes and verses: “Go away, Sarah Palin, go away/ You’ve had more airtime than Britney, you’re okay/ Your ideas were unspecific, but your outfits were terrific/ Go away, Sarah Palin, go away/ Pass the torch/ Go on watching Russia from your porch…” You get the idea.
TOM CHAPIN: AMSDconcerts, Friday, January 29, 7:30 p.m. 619-303-8176. $20.