So, Chicago’s music falls into one of two categories. There’s the rock/funk fusion Chicago of the 70’s and the pop ballad/soft rock Chicago of the 80’s. Personally, I prefer their older style, but a good friend of mine since High School will only listen to what he calls “bad Chicago”, meaning their 80’s stuff. Occasionally, we rock out in the car to “You’re the Inspiration” or “Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry”, and it’s become something of an inside joke.
When I saw a copy of Chicago 17 (from the “Bad Chicago” era) at “In Your Ear” in Cambridge a while ago, I had to buy it. The near mint condition of this record exemplifies the kind of disposable popularity that “bad Chicago” had. This record hit number 4 on the billboard charts back in its day, and two of the singles from the album also made the top 5. Despite that, classic rock stations avoid “You’re the inspiration” and “Hard Habit to Break” like the plague and beautiful copies of Chicago 17 like mine sell as low as $2. (This was no bargain bin, either.) At any rate, when I told my friend about my most recent purchase, he didn’t really say anything at first. I was a little confused but didn’t ask him why. Later I found out that he had bought the same album to give me as a gift. He and I have a sitcom-caliber telepathic connection whose hub appears to be a Chicago record from the 80’s.
A record might play for only 44 minutes, but it holds so much more. It holds sentiment. It holds personal connections. These things play for a lifetime.