Sunday, February 12, 2017

Forgotten Music: Chicago - Vote for Me (1977)

One of the more fascinating devices Chicago's Robert Lamm employed on a few of his political songs was not taking sides. It's one of the components of the keyboard player's writing that helped make him Chicago's best composer. Nevertheless, Lamm has always possessed strong opinions and anyone who has been a fan of Chicago over the years knows which side he leans toward politically.

The best example of Lamm's seeming neutrality is the band's hit single, "Dialogue," from 1972. The song is a conversation between two college students represented by Terry Kath and Peter Cetera, each espousing a different point of view. The lyrics are more about apathy and not being involved than any specific ideology and, to his credit, Lamm never reveals his hand.

The same can be said for Lamm's 1977 album track from Chicago XI, "Vote For Me." It's an uptempo, joyous sounding, pop song featuring a gospel chorus on which a presidential candidate happily promises voters everything, including "new cars that run on beer," but deep down you know he'll never follow through with any of them.

The lyrics reveal Lamm's sense of humor while totally skewering our political process and the hypocrisy of elected officials. Again, he doesn't make his politics known thereby adding a bit of mystery to the song and it's stronger because of it.

Politics is on the minds of people more than usual these days so it's time to resurrect this long forgotten track that should have been a classic. "Vote For Me" could have been a hit if it had been released as a single just a few years earlier. Its timing just wasn't right.

This was the last song Lamm wrote with a social message until 1984 when "We Can Stop the Hurtin'" appeared on Chicago 17.

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