Lyrics: Chicago and not Chicago

On the CTB discussion page I read with interest "Chicago's best lyrics" discussion, and noted that many of the comments seemed to reference mostly songs that were written during the '70's. Speaking for myself, I consider that era somewhat primitive in regard to my lyrics. Over the years, I have developed some skills, as I have never stopped composing both solo work and C repertoire. Risking immodesty, some of my best lyrics "Watching All the Colors, More Will Be Revealed, Naked in the Garden" were written much more recently. For sure, after 1991, as I began concentrating on solo projects,  the level of writing steadily improved and challenged me to get to something deeper.

From C's albums, Pankow's "Searching " is the most moving lyric of his work. Cetera's "If You Leave" is right on the money. Scheff's "Love Lives On" is his best so far. My earlier work, "Song for Richard, Goodbye, Hot Streets" are pretty creative work.

For the most part, I'm the composer/lyricist, except for several collaborations with Phil Galdston, Gerard Mc Mahon, Hank Linderman, Bill Gable. They are each gifted composer/lyricists as well.

As I write this, I'm traveling and without the benefit of looking thru my catalog, and I can't remember many of the songs I've written, but I've learned along the way, that each lyric leads to the next one, and it all has a value, if only to me.

An idea, this year, is to compile and create a small book, perhaps illustrated, of RL lyrics. This project may have several results:  I will discover that making a volume of the writing is of little value to anyone - or - I will discover a thread, or a few, that may run through my writing I was not conscious of. One thing I've always known ... I never, ever, sat down to write a hit. 

Before the Rock/Rap era, which has yielded amazing work lyrically, there were great songs with the greatest lyrics.

I recommend the book "Reading Lyrics" by Robert Gottlieb and Robert Kimball.

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  • Speaking from experience from the early to mid 70’s shaggy hair and beards were not the BIG PRETTY HAIR of the 80’s.  We were not into styling and pompadours, rather just growing it for the sheer protest of I can do this!

    There were the real rock bands and then there were clean cut pop bands!  Chicago was the former!

    • Yes, the 80's styles took away that inherent protest that was so evident in the looks of the 70's rock bands.  Too bad.  

  • Can't wait for the next Chicago album. Keep on writing those beautiful lyrics. No one can compare with your talent. Your are the best!

  • I myself was in a "hair band" in the 80's, and I really think some of the best composed work was in the 70's and 80's, not to knock the newer music.

    My nephew recently "pulled me out of retirement" to play piano in his new band, and I still find myself looking to the artists of that era to help my playing, especially Robert Lamm's playing.  This man is on another planet with his musicianship and his lyrics.  Mr. Lamm, it literally puts a lump in my throat when I see your performances...beyond awesome! 

    So I do my best to get my children to appreciate it, especially Chicago's music and Mr. Lamm's.


    • What is a hair band Gary?

    • Mary, I think a hair band is a band from the 80's with (yes you guessed it) BIG HAIR! You and I both know Chicago is a long way from being a Hair Band. Ha!!

    • Thanks Connie.  I have never heard that term before.  I agree that Chicago would not qualify now but they were a bit shaggy back in the 70's. :) 

    • Yes Mary. I guess you can say that they were a little shaggy back in the 70's. But, their shagginess was so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Am I right?

    • Yes, I agree.  I think Robert's best looks were in the 70's and now.  I liked the beard and long hair and I like his hair now.  In fact that was the first thing I noticed when I went to a Chicago concert two years ago.  It was my first Chicago concert and before I knew all the members of the band and I thought to myself, "Boy that piano player has nice hair".  That inspired me to investigate his music and have been enjoying it ever since.   Thank goodness for a rock star's impressive hair!  :) 

    • Yes I totally agree! I have been a Chicago Fan since the beginning. And, I have always thought they were very handsome!!!!!!! Chicago was the first concert I ever went to back in the day. And, here all these years later, I'm still attending shows. I'm going to Tulsa, Oklahoma on the 14th. I still get just as excited as I did when I was younger. It's going to be GREAT!

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