Chicago, “Jenny” from Chicago VI (1973): Saturdays in the Park

Full disclosure: I’m not a fan of 1973’s Chicago VI. I find it to be the weakest of the Caribou albums. Maybe it was because it was the first of the projects recorded at the ranch, or it could be just a fluke. Other than the hits “Just You N’ Me” and “Feelin’ Stronger Everyday,” the album largely felt a bit phoned in. It was a substantial letdown after the brilliance of Chicago V.

There are exceptions to every rule, and “Jenny” is the exception on Chicago VI. That being said, I don’t think “Jenny” would have worked as well on any other album. The reason it works so well on VI is the whimsy of Terry Kath singing a love song to his dog, Jenny. It is an excellent counterpoint to the cloyingly crass pretentiousness of “Critic’s Choice.” (Would you like some cheese with that whine, Mr. Lamm?) And Terry even manages to inject a small dose of cynicism into the otherwise whimsical nature of the lyrics. After all, it is indeed “so sad but true, there’s always someone waiting just to shit on you.”

If anything, “Jenny” is a redemption of sorts – as is “In Terms of Two.” It’s almost as if Terry Kath was sending a message out to the listeners saying: “Hey, some of us may take ourselves far too seriously, but they don’t speak for all of us! We love to have fun too. Music is supposed to be fun.”

In an age when people would listen to Side 1 of an LP from start to finish, then flip it and do the same with Side 2, the first song would often set the tone an entire album. I can’t help but think that had Chicago VI opened with “Jenny” instead of “Critic’s Choice,” it might have been better received – and might today be held in higher regard than it is.

‘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.

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