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Mister Tanner was a cleaner from a town in the Midwest.
And of all the cleaning shops around he'd made his the best.
But he also was a baritone who sang while hanging clothes.
He practiced scales while pressing tails and sang at local shows.
His friends and neighbors praised the voice that poured out from his throat.
They said that he should use his gift instead of cleaning coats.

But music was his life, it was not his livelihood,
And it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good.
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul.
He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole.

His friends kept working on him to try music out full time.
A big debut and rave reviews, a great career to climb.
Finally they got to him, he would take the fling.
A concert agent in New York agreed to have him sing.
And there were plane tickets, phone calls, money spent to rent the hall.
It took most of his savings but he gladly used them all.

But music was his life, it was not his livelihood,
And it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good.
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul.
He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole.

The evening came, he took the stage, his face set in a smile.
And in the half filled hall the critics sat watching on the aisle.
But the concert was a blur to him, spatters of applause.
He did not know how well he sang, he only heard the flaws.
But the critics were concise, it only took four lines.
But no one could accuse them of being over kind.

(spoken) Mr. Martin Tanner, Baritone, of Dayton, Ohio made his
Town Hall debut last night. He came well prepared, but unfortunately
His presentation was not up to contemporary professional standards.
His voice lacks the range of tonal color necessary to make it
Consistently interesting.
(sung) Full time consideration of another endeavor might be in order.

He came home to Dayton and was questioned by his friends.
Then he smiled and just said nothing and he never sang again,
Excepting very late at night when the shop was dark and closed.
He sang softly to himself as he sorted through the clothes.
Music was his life, it was not his livelihood,
And it made him feel so happy and it made him feel so good.
And he sang from his heart and he sang from his soul.
He did not know how well he sang; It just made him whole.



Lyrics taken from http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/h/harry_chapin/mr_tanner.html

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  • id_344262
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    Frankie TannerSep 12, 2014 at 1:17 am
    Harry got the idea for this song after reading about Martin Tubridy, who was a cleaner from Ohio who loved to sing. Tubridy got the chance to perform in New York City, but was panned in a review that appeared in The New York Times. The spoken part in the song is taken from that review, with some artistic license. The actual review from February 17, 1972, read: "Martin Tubridy, a bass baritone who came to Town Hall on Tuesday night to give his second New York recital, performed songs by Beethoven, Schubert, Vaughan Williams, Britten and others. He was accompanied on the piano by Mitchell Andrews. Mr. Tubridy's voice seemed quite limited in amplitude, range and flexibility, and it was probably because of this that his interpretations lacked force and strong communicative power. He was well prepared and sang conscientiously, but the results were not up to generally accepted levels of professional accomplishment."

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