Chicago, “Something in This City Changes People” from Chicago VI (1973): Saturdays in the Park

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Other than “Feelin’ Stronger Every Day” and “Just You ‘N’ Me,” 1973’s Chicago VI feels like bologna: lots of filling but the real meat is questionable at best.

“Something in this City Changes People” is an exception. I’d argue that it’s the one album cut with some substance to it. There’s an emotional honesty to this that, unlike much of the other album cuts, has some conviction to it. This song lacks the phoned in feel that much of the rest of the album had/has.

You can hear Chicago’s frustration. They were ready to leave Los Angeles. As was indicated in Chicago V’s “Goodbye,” it had worn them down a bit and Chicago welcomed the change of scenery that the Caribou Ranch provided.

It was also the first time the band visited themes of frustration with the music industry (or at least the city that was home to most of the music industry), a frustration that was later a bit more blunt on “Plaid” on the Stone of Sisyphus album. (Then again, later member Bill Champlin was never one to mince words.)

There’s a sad melancholy in the almost mournful vocals, and even the percussive touches are blunt in their frustration with L.A. If more of Chicago VI had shown this kind of naked honesty and felt a bit less superficial and phoned in, I think the album as a whole would have been looked upon and regarded better than it has been over the years.

‘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.

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