I was watching Chicago Live in Japan 1993 last night with my daughter. I used to dig that set. Heck I used to eat, sleep, and breathe Chicago's music. I don't know if I've been spoiled or what but for some reason it just wasn't grabbing me like it used to. I got to thinking about it and for a large chunk of my life I've listened to a substantial share of Chicago and related music and back when I was younger it was almost exclusively Chicago at the expense of a lot of other bands. I lacked perspective. It's almost like a deaf person getting their hearing back for the first time. Back when I loved absolutely everything the band touched and believed they could do no wrong I didn't listen to anything else or didn't listen to enough of anything else to have any sense of musical perspective. It wasn't until I started opening my ears outside my comfort zone that my ears grew a bit more discerning and objective.
I listen to Toto Live in Poland and I not only hear the music... I feel it. I listen to stuff like Nathan East's latest solo album, or Steve Hackett's "Out of the Tunnel's Mouth", or The Weather Report's "Heavy Weather" and I'm WoWed! and then I go back and try to listen to Chicago... and I just don't feel it the way I once used to. Bill Champlin's vocal chemistry with Peter Cetera was the reason I became a fan of Chicago-- It wasn't Peter's voice alone and it wasn't Bill's voice alone it's the way their voices came together so perfectly. When Bill was fired back in 2009 my enjoyment of the band took a serious hit even though I will concede towards the end of his tenure in the band Bill was oversinging the hell out of everything and it generally didn't sound that good any more. He was still a link to that golden vocal chemistry of the early 80s. Once that link was gone along with it was a substantial chunk of my enjoyment of Chicago.
My father and I went to see Chicago live in Latham, NY in 1993 and 1994. It was a 3 hour drive each way. I was a teenager (16 and 17 respectively) but those were the first 2 times I saw Chicago live and even though I saw them another 7 times or so after that, those first 2 concerts I look back at the most fondly because of who I shared those experiences with. I know I'll always have THAT. And for that reason I know that even after Chicago eventually bids their final adieu (although coming up on their 50th anniversary, God only knows when that will happen) I'll still have those special memories of seeing them live with my Dad... Those long drives on the Northway (the stretch of I-87 North of Albany, NY) to and from Latham. I'll always hold those memories very close in my heart.
So last night when I tried to share that experience with my daughter... albeit on video instead of live, the odd thing was, it was almost jarring to me. This music which once gave me so much enjoyment and such a staple of my life, that was a constant at times in my life when nothing else was, that was my security blanket, that was what I clung to when times were tough because for better or worse it always reminded me that when I was muddling through some of life's muckier mires that times had been better in the past and that they would get better once again... But now some of this music which has been such a staple of my life has started falling flat with me. The love of this music that I wanted to pass along to my children, I really can't, with that same level of conviction because my heart's not in it the way it once was.