Thursday, March 1, 2012

Saturday In The Park

In eighth grade I had to do a project in my music class that explored a band from our parents era as an attempt to broaden our horizons. I immediately turned to my parents for suggestions. They brought up the band Chicago, saying they had a unique sound and that I would probably enjoy it. After hearing "Saturday In The Park," I was sold.

Chicago's signature sound can be attributed to something not many other bands in the mainstream were doing at that time. They took the rock 'n' roll that was the popular music of the time and added horns. This may seem like a weird combination but it worked. While the Beach Boys reigned as greatest American rock n' roll band at that time this jazzed up version of pop Chicago was playing was novel and unique. The depth of their sound and lyrics greatly contrasted those of the Beach Boys. Eventually, their popularity grew until they too, were recognized as one of the greatest American rock 'n' roll bands.

Originally called The Big Thing, then Chicago Transit Authority and lastly Chicago, the band was compiled of DePaul University Students and a Roosevelt University music major, Robert Lamm. Lamm is responsible for hits such as "Saturday in the Park," "Does anyone really know what time it is" and "25 or 6 to 4." In my opinion, these are some of Chicago's most creative pieces and Lamm was the mastermind behind them. Throughout his childhood, Lamm always had a compilation of jazz records. These early influences, were ultimately instrumental in defining Chicago's sound. In high school, Lamm explored the visual arts and it was not until college that he began to truly explore music.

Not only were his musical skills and jazz background an asset, but also, he saw his music as a way to portray his social conscience. At a time when lyrics were revolving around having "fun, fun, fun until her daddy took the T-bird away," this was a risky move on Lamm's part. Like Danielson and Family, it was taking this risky move, incorporating his own beliefs into his work that set him apart. It was unique and not often done, but in the end, it was well received.

After Cetera started to steal the spotlight, Lamm's creativity was challenged. However, it was from this time that Lamm started to explore solo projects and collaborations. Although still committed to Chicago, he could not resist the need to create.

Like many other creatives we have studied, his relationships were not always successful. Two marriages ended in divorce until his last marriage to art director, Joy Kopko. It seems as if, her own creative nature allowed him to enhance his without taking a toll on their relationship.

As we have seen in the Z-boys movie, what made Lamm's work creative was the way in which he incorporated his past with his present. He saw rock 'n' roll and jazz and put them together making a sound completely novel. I believe this is what makes creative individuals creative. They see the same things others see but they see them in a different way. One may appreciate jazz and appreciated rock but Lamm was the one who saw that they could be put together. To this day, musicians have followed suit. He paved the way for artists such a Jason Mraz or John Mayer who seamlessly incorporate jazz into their interpretation of pop. Through Lamm's creative work, he forever changed his field. Despite his influence on modern musicians, Chicago's sound is still signature. Each individual, has unique experiences throughout their lives. Lamm used these unique experiences to create a product that was completely unique.

1 comment:

  1. My parents were/are Chicago fans, and I must admit that I have never been particularly partial to their music. As someone who is not a music major, or even a musician, I had never before considered the different pieces that made Chicago's music creative. Listening to the songs you included after reading more about what made the music so enduring gave me a much deeper appreciation for the band!


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