Chicago, “Free Form Guitar” from Chicago Transit Authority (1969): Saturdays in the Park

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The list of Chicago’s great love songs – “Colour My World,” “Wishing You Were Here,” “If You Leave Me Now,” “Baby, What a Big Surprise,” among them – goes on and on. But, to me, Chicago’s best-ever love song was “Free Form Guitar” from 1969’s Chicago Transit Authority.

CTA was the only Chicago album recorded with the whole lineup in the studio at once. The story goes that after a rigorous day of recording, the rest of the band left to unwind but Terry Kath stuck around the studio and decided to cut loose a bit on guitar. The sound engineers took notice and decided to roll tape.

I’ve heard that there’s actually as much as 20-plus minutes of Terry just shredding on guitar, but James William Guercio found the best 6½ minutes or so and put that on Chicago Transit Authority.

“Free Form Guitar” isn’t for everyone. There’s no melodic structure, there’s no harmony, and there’s absolutely no polish. But what it’s lacking in melody, harmony and polish, it more than makes up for in pure unadulterated energy – and undying love – for a guitar.

That song – or clip, or whatever you prefer to call it – is a man’s expression of pure passion for his guitar. Chicago’s hits may have been more listenable by the general public, but “Free Form Guitar” is what happens when you strip away all the trappings of structure and just let a man play out of pure love and joy.

Perplexio

Perplexio

Perplexio also maintains a stand-alone blog called The Review Revue, where he explores music, movies and books. He spearheaded 'Saturdays in the Park,' our weekly multi-writer, song-by-song series focused on the music of Chicago. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelse reviews.com.
Perplexio
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