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Chicago II, Chicago

Windy City Rhythms, the Enduring Legacy of Chicago

I first heard of Chicago when I was about seven years old when my dad's cousin, who lived there, visited my grandmother and described the city in a way that made it seem like another world. Growing up, Chicago remained a distant yet fascinating place, especially during the football games my dad watched, showing a city living under snow.

When I moved to St. Joseph, Michigan, after completing my studies, I struggled to explain to people back in Mexico where St. Joe was. I always said, “A couple of hours east of Chicago,” which soon became, “I live close to Chicago.” My parents simply would say, “He lives in Chicago.” This created a sense of affinity with the city that we frequently visited, eventually leading us to move there 15 years after we left our beloved Michigan.

Chicago is an incredible city—in my opinion, the best in the continental USA. It boasts a rich history, tradition, stunning architecture, character, friendly neighborhoods, and vibrant music. I fell in love with it through my train commute from the suburbs into the city's heart at the Merchandise Mart, where my office was. I became a part of it as I once navigated MexCity'sty’s veins in the Metro. Unsurprisingly, some of the best blues musicians and rock bands originated in the Windy City*, including the iconic band named after the city, Chicago.

The band Chicago Transit Authority had to change its name to Chicago after the city claimed it could not keep it. It is a band that most people growing up in the 70s, 80s, and 90s know well from their love ballads like “If You Leave Me Now" and Peter Cetera’s soft voice, which are excellent but pale compared to the music in their early years with band leader and legendary guitar player Terry Kath - the best guitar player of the era, according to Jimi Hendrix. Not only did Terry brought incredible musical arrangements and guitar solos, but his voice and Ray Charles-singing style were also tremendous and balanced the band, as Cetera's voice was too soft and mellow. Terry tragically died playing with a gun at the height of their career.

Choosing an album from the first 11 may be challenging, but Chicago II stands out. Released in January 1970, this double album exemplifies the band's exceptional fusion of rock, jazz, and classical elements, boasting elaborate musical arrangements, intricate compositions, and thought-provoking lyrics. Notable tracks include "de "25 or 6 to 4," a renowned rock anthem renowned for its unforgettable horn section and TeKath'sth's powerful guitar solo, "and "Make Me Sm" le," a refreshing piece with a captivating melody and sophisticated horn accompaniments. The album also features "Colour My World," a stunning ballad distinguished by its piano and flute interplay, "and "It Better End Soon," a multi-part suite that delves into social and political themes, showcasing the band's commitment to contemporary issues.

Reflecting on my journey with Chicago, I realize how deeply the city and its music intertwine with my life. From the wide-eyed wonder of a child hearing tales of a distant, snowy metropolis to the adult commuting from the suburbs, discovering its vibrant pulse, Chicago has always felt like a city of dreams and possibilities. Moving here solidified my love for its rich history, stunning architecture, and unparalleled musical heritage, and now, many friends.

Like the city, the band Chicago has played a role in my life. Their evolution from the groundbreaking sounds of their early years, led by the legendary Terry Kath, to their later soft rock ballads, mirrors my journey of discovery. band's powerful blend of rock, jazz, and classical influences captured the essence of the city’s diverse spirit. Listening"to "Chicago" II," with its ambitious arrangements and socially conscious lyrics, reminds me of how art and place can shape our experiences and memories. Chicago, both the city and the band, isn't just a place; it's a living, breathing entity that continues to inspire and captivate. Like the legendary band that shares its name, the city's legacy endures, proving that great music leaves an indelible mark, much like great cities.

*The nickname originated from the city's politicians and boosters in the late 19th century. During the 1World's Columbian Exposition bid, rival towns, notably Cincinnati, accused Chicago politicians of being full of hot air—essentially, bragging and making exaggerated claims about the city's merits. This metaphor of "windy city" was said to be the true origin of the term.

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