WASHINGTON — A Virginia woman who was the inspiration for Harry Chapin’s 1972 hit “Taxi” has reportedly died.
Clare Alden MacIntyre-Ross, 73, died March 9 from complications of a stroke, The Wall Street Journal reports. She was the daughter of the head of Eastern Airlines and went on to sell securities for Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1970s. Her career was cut short by a variety of health problems; her second husband, and widower, is Washington lawyer David A. Ross.
But in the early 1960s, she had an on-and-off romance with the aspiring songwriter Chapin, whom she met when they were both summer camp counselors, The Journal reports, adding that her family wasn’t thrilled about their being together.
Chapin’s biographer, Peter M. Coan, told The Journal that their split inspired his song about a taxi driver named Harry — at one time, a career aspiration of Chapin’s — who picks up Sue, an old flame who is now married to a wealthy man. They spend the ride reminiscing about their old aspirations — hers to be an actress; his, to fly.
“Taxi” hit number 24 in the Billboard charts in 1972. The 1980 song “Sequel” began with the last two lines of “Taxi” and reunited Harry and Sue. He’s now a successful musician; her marriage has ended and she’s lost her comfortable life, but is truly happy for the first time. The song hit number 23.
Coan tells The Journal that Chapin described “Taxi” as “60 percent accurate,” but that MacIntyre-Ross “was the love of his life,” whom he never got over.
Chapin died in 1981 in a crash on the Long Island Expressway. He was 38.