It’s August 1972. It’s a beautiful night in the summer of my fourteenth year and I am about to embark on my very first date. I am going to Ravinia to see a group that was formed right here in Chicago and aptly named, Chicago.
That night, amidst the excitement of my date and the aura of the evening, this band and their music became what would be one that has represented the soundtrack of my life. That their music has endured and been played on repeat for the past 45 years, is a testament to it’s timeless quality.
The date, not so much.
Last night I was lucky enough to have tickets to WTTW’s Soundstage performance by Chicago. If you paid more than most of the rest of the audience (hey folks in the red section, it was worth every penny, amiright?) you could have a meet and greet.
So, what does one say to the band that has defined their lifetime musical library? You have about 2 minutes to get up on the stage with them and take a picture. How do you even speak when you feel like a nervous 10 year old about to meet Justin Bieber?
I calculated the conversation in my head all day. I wasn’t about to tell them that I loved their music, too cliche! So, I would tell them about my first date. And I did. They all smiled and they even asked questions. Robert Lamm (my band crush) asked me how the date was. I said the date was ok but that their performance was much better. Zing! Bam! He laughed. YES, I MADE ONE OF THE GREATEST ROCK STARS OF OUR GENERATION LAUGH.
How could the night get any better?
It could and it did.
There are a lot of bands from my younger days that are now resigned to playing suburban festivals. Hey, it’s a living but this band, this music! It’s as timeless as a classic novel. Hearing them play all my favorites from about 10 feet away was surreal. It’s amazing to love a song just as much nearly 50 years later than the first time you ever heard it.
The instrumentals were as polished and seasoned as ever and the voices! Oh those voices!! We all know how aging can affect a singing voice. Not here, not here. The lead singer that essentially replaced Peter Cetera (who let’s face it, had a voice like an angel) won me over as he has time and again. (You don’t think this is the first time I’ve seen them since 1972, do you?).
From Ballet for a girl in Buchannon (the medley that includes Make me Smile and Color My World) to 25 or 6 to 4, to Beginnings to I’m a Man to Dialogues Part 1 and 2 and so much more, I felt like I spent the evening in a time machine. I was at high school dances, on dates, driving around looking for trouble or making out with someone in the back seat of a car. I was at prom. I was everywhere. And it was wonderful.
I read last night that Chicago has never missed a tour date in 50 years. They all looked so happy and genuine I can see that this life they have lived, and this gift they have given has brought them joy, each of those 50 years.
It’s a night I will never, ever forget. Bucket lists are things to strive for. Last year I went to the World Series and the Cubs brought home the trophy, this year it was meeting Chicago. Next year?
Bring it on 2018, my list is ready.
Side note: WTTW is really something special. Everyone should attend a soundstage taping. It’s quite the experience! And they didn’t pay me to say that!!!