Chicago Is Often Overlooked As A Late Sixties, Early Seventies Protest Band

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Chicago Is Often Overlooked As A Late Sixties, Early Seventies Protest Band

Post by Steve on Mon Sep 12, 2016 3:28 pm

Chicago Is Often Overlooked As A Late Sixties, Early Seventies Protest Band

When a discussion arises of protest music from the late sixties and early seventies, bands such as Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane and the Byrds are among the ones often mentioned. A group even more successful than that triumvirate should be included in the protest genre, although most people associate them with softer, love-centered, non-controversial pop songs.

Chicago, the band named after the Windy City, is best known for enduring classics like "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is", "Saturday in the Park", and "Feelin' Stronger Everyday." They are also famous for naming their albums with Roman numerals, all the way up until the thirteenth LP " Hot Streets."

When they started out, however, Chicago was indeed a politically-charged band, which was actually called Chicago Transit Authority. Their anti-war, anti-establishment song list was one of the reasons the actual entity with that name objected to its use, resulting in the band simply becoming Chicago after their debut album. You could say they dropped authority, literally.

They also went against authority in plenty of their songs, especially on their first six albums. In fact, they dedicated nearly an entire side of their debut album to a recording at the controversial 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.

The official title of the cut is "Prologue Democratic Convention, Chicago, 1968," an event noteworthy in the nation's history because of the protests. Throughout the selection, black militants and protestors can be heard shouting "God give us the blood to keep going."

On the very next track the lyrics read "Do you feel the rumblings as your head comes crumbling down?". The line comes from "Someday," which is subtitled the day after the police tried to disperse the protestors in Chicago.

The septet further reveals their rage on Chicago III, on a track called "Sing a Mean Tune." Among the radical suggestions on the song, the vocalist says, "Sock 'em in the gut."

"Mother" from that same record says, "Mama Earth is nowhere, gone from our eyes, our mother has been raped and left to die in disgrace." Also found on that third album is "When All the Laughter Dies In Sorrow," an anti-Combat song that says, "When all the wars have found a cause in human wisdom and blood."

Chicago V's "State of the Union" repeats the line "Tear the system down" as a policeman wrestles the singer to the ground and takes him to jail for saying it. "They don't permit coarse language in their city, but they did accept a large amount of bail," he states.

The biggest hit from Chicago VIII, "Harry Truman", is based solely on politics. "I know you would be mad to see what kind of men prevail upon the land you love," the singer says to the revered former President of the United States.

The band, much like American society in general, gradually turned away from the political turmoil. Most of the themes of their songs, especially after the accidental death of co-founder Terry Kath, involved romance or nostalgia.

Their roots, however, were as politically charged as any of the other famous bands of the time. They just happened to have a lot of hits that appealed to mainstream audiences, who seem to have forgotten the band's controversial beginning.

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Re: Chicago Is Often Overlooked As A Late Sixties, Early Seventies Protest Band

Post by Rashavi on Mon Sep 12, 2016 7:39 pm

Honestly, I've never cared much for this band. I never did get into their music.
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