Chicago, “Old Days” from Chicago VIII (1975): Saturdays in the Park

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Sooner or later, almost every artist records a song about an adult looking back on his or her younger years. The Beatles had “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”; Stevie Wonder took us back to his childhood in “I Wish”; and Bob Seger had more hits with this theme than anyone. “Old Days” is Chicago’s – and specifically James Pankow’s – take on remembering childhood.

Pankow, who was around 27 years old when Chicago recorded “Old Days,” closes out the nostalgia-concept second side of 1975’s Chicago VIII with this upbeat, enjoyable catalog of his “boyhood memories” that “seem like yesterday.” His experiences were almost universal for a boy in the 1950s: reading comic books, trading baseball cards, sneaking into drive-in movies on summer nights, and enjoying children’s black-and-white television shows.

The line about Howdy Doody was controversial within Chicago. Peter Cetera thought it unnecessarily dated the song, and didn’t like to sing it live.

I agree with Peter: Howdy Doody was something my parents watched as children, and they would often reference the theme song and characters, but it means nothing to my generation and those after – or those who didn’t grow up in the United States. That didn’t, however, prevent Leonid and Friends, a very good Chicago tribute band from Russia, from recording this excellent cover. And this is from some guys whose 1950s memories would have included Stalin and Khrushchev!

Always Chicago’s best arranger, James Pankow begins the song in a major key, but switches to minor as he sings of “a world gone away.” He also adds a string section at 1:41, maybe in an effort to bring us back to adulthood. We’ve grown up now – but we’ll always have memories, in our hearts to stay.

‘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

CelticGal

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 www.beckysisland.com. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com
CelticGal
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