Suggest a Songfact / Artistfact
Album: Songs For BeginnersReleased: 1971Charted:
This song was written in reference to the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968. The times were very violent, and riots were threatened at the Convention. The mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, basically told the police to use all necessary force to keep order. They did, with a vengeance. Civil rights and the Vietnam War were major issues, and there were many protesters at the convention. There were lots of arrests, with the police basically beating into submission anyone who had the nerve to speak out.
Some of the lyrics refer to the "Chicago 7" trial, where protesters at the convention were charged with intent to incite a riot:
Though your brother's bound and gagged
And they've chained him to a chair
Won't you please come to Chicago
Just to sing
This refers to Bobby Seale, the only black plaintiff and the eighth member, who was actually gagged and bound to a chair in the courtroom. He was later removed from the trial, leaving seven. The three most famous names from this trial are Tom Hayden, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin.
Speaking to UK newspaper The Guardian in a 2015 interview, Graham Nash said that this song contains the only ever line that he wishes he'd never written. Nash said: "We were pretty blitzed. The line, 'Regulations – who needs them?' We need regulations. You're not allowed to drive through a red light. There are certain societal rules that we have to live by. So I sing it differently now. I say: 'Some of those regulations – who needs them?'"