Chicago, “Lowdown” from Chicago III (1971): Saturdays in the Park

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“Oh my
Life has passed me by
The country I was brought up in
Fell apart and died”

Given the results of the recent election, the opening lyrics to Chicago’s “Lowdown” feel especially true for many right now. Lyrically, “Lowdown” is quite effective. Losing one’s country, one’s love, and one’s best friend – anyone would be feeling “lowdown” under those circumstances.

Robert Lamm was/is more traditionally the go-to songwriter in Chicago for political lyrics, but there’s something to be said for Peter Cetera’s political songwriting. In both “Where Do We Go From Here” and “Lowdown,” Peter ties political issues to emotions – to a larger palette of life, if you will.

Lamm’s lyrics are exceptional at addressing the issues, but he tends to use the music to express the emotion, whereas Peter’s forays into the political speak to his politics merely being a part of his life – not as something that defines his life. Yes, he’s upset about the state of the country, but he’s also lost his love and in losing that love he has also lost his best friend.

While Chicago’s bread and butter is their horn section, the chemistry of their original rhythm section is one of the tightest I’ve ever heard from any band. And while Danny Seraphine and Terry Kath have the respect of their peers on their respective instruments, Peter is their equal on bass. Given his shift to focusing more on his vocals after leaving the band, his bass talent displayed on Chicago’s earlier material tends to be underrated. “Lowdown” features one of the tightest rhythms ever laid down by Seraphine, Kath and Cetera.

It’s easily one of the best tracks on Chicago III.

‘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.

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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