“Chicago” Legend Robert Lamm’s New Song of Hope
Robert Lamm has pretty much had the same job for 53 years, although it has been very different these past three months. Lamm is a founding member of the legendary band “Chicago.” Lamm was a guest on Friday’s 95.3 WBCK Morning Show with Tim Collins to talk about an inspirational new song, perfect for our times. It’s called "Everything's Gonna Work Out Fine".
Robert Lamm is a founding member and keyboardist, vocalist, and composer of the group, Chicago. Formed in 1967, Chicago has recorded 37 albums & sold more than 100 million records. They are one of the longest-running and best-selling music groups of all time
Lamm says he’s used to going on the road for a couple of weeks, then heading home for a week or two and then back out on the road again. He says it’s taken some getting used to staying home during the pandemic. “It’s the longest I’ve ever been home in one period. Being home all this time has shown me, first of all, that I’ve married the right woman.”
Lamm says they came up with "Everything's Gonna Work Out Fine" when COVID-19 was just a blip on the radar. Little did they know when they wrote and recorded it several weeks ago, the bigger message it would have by its release today. Lamm says he put together the music track and sent it to Chicagoan Jim Peterik, of “The Ides of March” and “Survivor”. “A couple of days later, he returns the sound file with the lyrics and guitar and vocal track on it.”
“It wasn’t specifically about the pandemic, because we didn’t even know that word at that point,” says Lamm. “It was about sharing a little hope with people, and good vibes and try to calm people’s anxieties.”
The band recorded two versions of "Everything's Gonna Work Out Fine". One is with Chicago vocalist Neil Donnell, and the other has Peterik and Donnell sharing vocals.
Lamm says he never really planned on being a performing musician. “For me, I just wanted to be a music composer.” When several Chicago musicians first put the band together, they recruited him from Roosevelt University to play keyboards and help with vocals. “I ended up the guy who’s coming up with songs to record, and I think that on that first album, I ended up writing 8 out of the 11 songs. In 1969, Chicago Transit Authority came out. The songs on the album included “25 or 6 to 4”, “Beginnings” “Colour My World” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”
That tune has a very contemporary piano solo on the album that was cut from the 45 which made it to the radio. Lamm says a lot of the influence on his playing came from listening to big band jazz records growing up in the ’50s in Brooklyn. “When I was a teenager, I was able to work part-time in a record shop, so I was able to hear a lot of jazz.” He says Thelonius Monk was one big influence on his playing.
“Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” also has a nifty 3/8 section in the right after the horn intro that was also edited from the 45. Lamm says injecting an odd time signature bar or two into the traditional 4/4 beat is something he was very proud of. It’s normally something a classical composer might do, but Lamm says he says he picked up some of those meter change ideas from the pop music of Burt Bacharach.
Lamm says Chicago had the desire of wanting to have a rock band with horns, which was more the exception in the ’60s, where he says there were a lot of “rhythm section bands.” Looking back to that era, people will list Chicago, Blood Sweat and Tears, maybe Chase or the Ides of March as “jazz-rock” bands. A lot of kids probably signed up for band because of Chicago.
“The horns gave us the opportunity to not only do new stuff but when we were starting out we were doing cover tunes. We were doing a lot of R&B, the Memphis Sound, and that helped us keep the band working early on. We did Sgt. Pepper, we did Magical Mystery Tour and all that stuff.”
The band has gone through a lot of changes, and losses over 53 years. Lamm, along with trombonist Jimmy Pankow and trumpeter Lee Loughnane are the last three original members of Chicago.
But like all great bands, Chicago always seemed to re-invent itself. What’s the secret of that and was there luck involved?
“This band has always been stocked with guys who are players. We want to play and improve as musicians and every night we try to play the songs as perfectly as possible, which is impossible. But I do think that luck has been a large factor. Timing is a large factor. But, you know the cliché, the harder you work the luckier you get.”
"Everything's Gonna Work Out Fine is available in several places, including iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube.
Chicago is scheduled to play at FireKeeper’s Casino Hotel on November 13th. Who knows if that’ll happen, but keep it on the calendar for now.