Chicago, “Just You ‘N’ Me” from Chicago VI (1973): Saturdays in the Park

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There are very few unabashed love songs in the Chicago canon that are as great as “Just You ‘N’ Me” from 1973’s Chicago VI. The James Pankow-penned track is as straight forward as a love song gets, yet it works in spite of the smarmy sentiments.

Part of the success of “Just You ‘N’ Me” is attributed to Chicago’s stellar arrangements and James Guercio’s production. Pop/rock music rarely reached such heights in 1973. Chicago also shows the strength of its chops by pulling a lot of disparate elements together in a little over three and a half minutes.

The initial horn flourish is not unusual, but here it’s used effectively as an introduction to one of Peter Cetera’s best vocals. Cetera is pleasing yet earnest and always the consummate master of his vocal craft. Drummer Danny Seraphine provides just the right fills, and holds back the beat with his rim work. Seraphine never sounds too busy or rushed.

Robert Lamm and Terry Kath are not given too much to do, yet both make the best use of their space. Lamm’s Fender Rhodes sets the mood, providing a R&B and jazz feel touching on an Earth Wind and Fire flare. Kath proves to be the master of economy with his wah wah pedal-fueled melodic licks. Not a note is wasted and “Just You ‘N’ Me” gets a muscular push from it.

Perhaps the unsung hero is Walt Parazaider. His solos over the last two or more decades really haven’t been his, as Parazaider has been replaced with synthesized saxophone parts (“Let’s Take a Lifetime” from Stone of Sisyphus) or replaced by a ghost player (“Forever” on Chicago 18) for example. On “Just You ‘N’ Me,” Parazader’s soprano sax gives the song a flowing jazz feel previously hinted at with Lamm’s Fender Rhodes, before the song’s bridge leads to a recapitulation of the main verse.

Before you know it, “Just You ‘N’ Me” is over – but not before Chicago earned an enduring No. 4 hit.

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

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier

Preston Frazier is a bass-playing lawyer living in Atlanta. His first Steely Dan exposure was with an eight-track cassette of 'Pretzel Logic.' He can be reached at slangofages@icloud.com; follow him on Twitter: @slangofages. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Preston Frazier
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