Chicago, “Song of the Evergreens” from Chicago VII (1974): Saturdays in the Park

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Musically, Chicago’s “Song of the Evergreens” is brilliant; it’s haunting, spacey and atmospheric. Between Terry Kath’s guitar and Robert Lamm’s slightly out-of-tune piano/keyboard work, this Chicago VII track has the vibe of a late autumn/early winter evening as the snow starts to fall.

The “out of tune” feel of the piano actually fits “Song of the Evergreens” perfectly. I’d argue it even has a bit of a Rick Davies vibe. (Incidentally, Davies’ band Supertramp recorded Even In the Quietest Moments at the Caribou Ranch a few years later.)

Where the disconnect occurs are the vocals. This is a Terry Kath song, sung by trumpet player Lee Loughnane. Lee’s voice is uncannily similar to Terry’s and he’s not a bad singer, but he’s not nor has he ever been as good a singer as Terry was. Perhaps it was just Terry tossing a bone to a friend, but I can’t help but wonder what Terry could have done vocally on this song.

In some ways, the lyrics are a throwback to “In the Country.” Terry was born and raised a city boy; this earlier tune from Chicago II captured the wonder and awe of a lifelong city boy experiencing the joys of nature that only a walk through some of the more rural regions of America can deliver.

“Song of the Evergreens” is an extension of that wonder that Terry Kath had. While he was born and raised as that Chicago boy, both “In the Country” and “Song of the Evergreens” belie an almost childlike love of and fascination with nature, mountains, and fresh air. They suggest that, deep inside, Terry might have been more of a John Denver-type “Country Boy” than his urban upbringing would ever suggest.

‘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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