Chicago, “Mongonucleosis” from Chicago VII (1974): Saturdays in the Park

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After the seriousness and maturity of Chicago VII‘s “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” it’s time to party! With “Mongonucleosis,” James Pankow turns the bass riff of his previous song into a salsa-inspired instrumental jam that could persuade even the most lead-footed among us to get up and dance.

Well, it’s mostly an instrumental. There’s a brief section at :38 where Chicago chants “Que belleza” (“what beauty” or “how beautiful” in Spanish), providing one of the most famous mondegreens in the the band’s catalogue. My 13-year-old ears in 1979 heard “get that jazz out.” Others have heard “hit the jackpot,” “paper chaser,” “get the chainsaw,” “it’s James Pankow,” or “get that jazz rock.” What did you think it was?

Following a percussion-heavy introduction, the “Searchin’” riff, and the singing, comes a short major-key instrumental that sounds a little unusual to Chicago fans. Where’s the lower end in the horns? Pankow arranged this section without the trombone, giving him the chance to play timbales on the track and in concerts like the one at Caribou Ranch in 1973. He returns to his regular instrument in a bit, adding a counter-melody under the trumpet and alto sax main theme, that sounds a little like a minor-key version of …

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… until everyone goes conga-dancing off into the sunset.

Those of you who want to keep up the fun would do best to flip the record over and continue with “Call On Me.” There’s some unpleasantness ahead. For now, however, let’s join Chicago, the Beach Boys, and Olivia Newton-John for an extended version of “Mongonucleosis” and get that jazz out!

‘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.



CelticGal grew up in northern Indiana and now lives on the back cover of the 'Chicago XI' album. A fan of Chicago (the Good Parts Version, e.g. the lineups with Peter Cetera) since 1978, she is the author of 'The Famous Becky's Island Chicago Reviews' and 'Becky's Island Music Trivia Quizzes,' found at Contact Something Else! at
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  • lnh

    “get that jazz out!” – too funny! according to Pankow it’s “que be jesa” which, loosely translated, means “what’s happening, let’s party” in Spanish. while the song doesn’t make me want to join the ONJ conga line, it does make me want to shake my hips! it’s a fun, infectious tune; a different sound for them.
    “….. unpleasantness ahead”… true, unfortunately.