Chicago, “I Don’t Want Your Money” from Chicago III (1971): Saturdays in the Park

One of the knocks hardcore rockers always had against Chicago was that they didn’t rock hard enough, that the band’s songs were too tightly arranged, and that they weren’t grungy sounding enough to be real rockers. On “I Don’t Want Your Money” from 1971’s Chicago III, however, they proved their detractors wrong on all of those counts.

With the horns sounding darker than usual and buried a little deeper into the mix than they normally were, this Robert Lamm/Terry Kath ditty is one of the loosest and dirtiest sounding tracks Chicago ever laid down on tape. The horns are still important, but they’re more ornamental on “I Don’t Want Your Money” than on much of their better known work.

That allowed the rock instruments to come to the forefront, especially Kath’s filthy-sounding lead guitar and Lamm’s somewhat theatrical but perfect, blues man vocals. Even though Robert Lamm is not singing in his normal voice, it fits this deep track perfectly – and, in the end, it’s one of my favorite Lamm vocals of all time.

Lyrically, “I Don’t Want Your Money” is a love song that basically says “All I want is you.” It’s not the first one that said the writer doesn’t need anything but the woman of his dreams (it’s an overused theme), but what is different is some of the things Lamm and Kath say they don’t want or need, including taxes and especially Uncle Sam.

As preparation for this article, I pulled out Chicago III for the first time in a long time and was pleased with how wonderful and fresh it still sounds today. That said, it makes me angry. While listening to this song, and then the entire album, I remembered what Chicago once was and, when I realize what they became just a few short years later, I want to cry.

‘Saturdays in the Park’ is a multi-writer, song-by-song examination of the music of Chicago. Find it here on Something Else! each Saturday.

Charlie Ricci

Charlie Ricci

Charlie Ricci maintains Bloggerhythms, where he talks about music, concerts, and a wide range of other musical topics. In August 2008, his site placed at No. 87 on a list of the Top 100 music-related blogs according to Alexa, a web ranking service. Contact Something Else! at
Charlie Ricci