Column: Chicago’s ‘Dialogue (Parts I and II)’ among bands best pieces

Adam Tumino, Reporter

Hidden amongst the vast discography of the band Chicago are seemingly countless gems and mini masterpieces.

Beginning with their 1969 debut album, Chicago mixed unmatched musical ability with a surprising amount of thoughtful lyrics. These are on display numerous times, but perhaps no more impressively than in “Dialogue (Parts I and II).”

Closing out side one of Chicago’s fourth studio album, “Chicago V,” “Dialogue” stands out even on an album featuring the classic “Saturday in the Park.”

Running just over seven minutes, “Dialogue” features guitarist Terry Kath and bassist Peter Cetera as lead vocalists, each playing the part of college students talking about current issues. 

Kath, with his husky and bluesy voice, portrays a student who is world-weary and always thinking about the ills of the world.

Cetera, with his higher-pitched and pop-oriented voice, portrays a student who does not have a care in the world. He sees no reason to worry about the outside world when he can simply sit back and get high. 

As the argument intensifies, the music does as well. When Kath begins to lament over starvation and poverty, Chicago’s iconic horn section begins to play at full blast. 

By the end of the first part of the song, Kath and Cetera’s characters have changed. 

Kath is more relaxed, taking time to forget the troubles of the world. Cetera does not understand how Kath can relax with so many bad things happening every day. 

The second part of “Dialogue” is a more freeform, mostly instrumental section. The entire band vocalizes for much of the last several minutes, chanting “We can make it happen” and “We can change the world,” before being abruptly cut off to end the song. 

In addition to the lyrics, “Dialogue” has some tremendous instrumental sections. Cetera is featured on a bass solo near the end of the conversation. Though he was most well known for his vocals, Cetera exhibits here his formidable talent as a bassist. 

Kath, as always, plays several electrifying guitar solos in the second half of the song. Kath is perhaps the most underrated guitarist of all time, with even the great Jimi Hendrix saying that Kath was a better player. 

Hendrix was being humble and is the superior player, but Kath is unbelievable. 

Chicago’s unmistakable horn section does great as usual, as does drummer Danny Seraphine, playing tricky rhythms in the first half and lightning-fast fills later on.

Chicago produced many classics and lesser-known pieces. “Dialogue” is one of their best, showcasing the vast talents of one of America’s best-selling and most-creative bands. 

Adam Tumino is a junior journalism major. He can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]