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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  • And this is why I'm puzzled when you receive such rave reviews about your songs from the 70s, you do not like it when your fans want to include those memories here.  You certainly have many more fans on this site that love your work as a solo composer, but I think there's room enough for all of us to share.

    Why not have your moderators include an area for people to reminisce about your earlier accomplishments here as well. It might be a kick for everyone to visit...maybe even you.

  • Primitive perhaps, but simple enough for many to relate to, personal..

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    • That is an interesting post Deborah.  When I became aware of Robert as an individual, as opposed to an anonymous member of a band, I thought it would be interesting if he would write a book about his life.  Fifty years in a successful band along with all the personal stuff would make an fascinating  tale.  Then I became aware of his solo work and realized he had written about his life. It is all in his lyrics. In so saying that, I believe when he says his early lyrics were primitive I think he means as he aged and experienced life his lyrics reflected deeper content.  If a listener were to only gauge a lyricist's life experiences from their words written in their twentys and thirties, they would think all there was to life was attraction, falling in love, and losing love.  Primitive stuff.  Robert's lyrics written when he is much older reflect life's more difficult terrain.  At the same time, I think you are correct in saying that simplicity can say it all.  After all, what is more important in life than love.  

    • I read with interest this post that, surprisingly, is very accurate vis a vis 'my life' rather than 'my autobiog book'.

      I hadn't thought of my lyrics this way, but you are so perceptive! 

      The writing instuctors have always told flegelings "write what you know".  Voila!


    • Voila, indeed!  As I started listening to your solo work I noticed something unique.  Each song usually relayed a personal life event as well as your internal feelings and struggles.  With each new song the story of your life unfolded.  I have to admit it was a bit of a jigsaw puzzle since I did not obtain the songs in chronological order and I had no idea when the lyrics were composed regardless of when the song was released.  Not to mention you seem to be a particularly private person revealing little of your life. (Which, BTW, is how it should be.)  I admire and appreciate your willingness to expose your most intimate thoughts and feelings through your lyrics.  It seems quite courageous of you but I suspect you don't do this for the benefit of others but for what you discover about yourself.  

    • Hi Mary! I was just wondering if you got my message? i sent it a couple of days ago. I saw your response to Deborah. You always post such wonderful words. And, I totally agree with what you wrote. Hope to hear from you soon.


    • Connie, did you get my response to your post?  I sent it May 14th?  

    • Hi Mary! No, I didn't receive your response. Maybe something went haywire. Like I said before. I'm still learning how to do this stuff. I might have pushed the wrong thing. At least you responded. That means I am doing something right. HA! HA!

    • Deborah, I totally agree with you. These songs are what made us fall in love with Chicago in the first place. (Or they did me anyway). I too have been a fan since the beginning and nobody can "Make Me Smile" like they do when I go to see them in concert. 

      Chicago Fan From Arkansas--Connie Allen

  • 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!

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