Dialogue (Part I & II)

Album: Chicago V (1972)
Charted: 24

Songfacts®:

  • "Dialogue" is a two-part song on Chicago's album Chicago V. It was written by Chicago founder Robert Lamm. The song takes the form of a debate of sorts, with two characters discussing the state of the world and all the troubles in it in 1972, with opposite roles taken by vocalists Terry Kath and Peter Cetera. It is a very sophisticated song; the two characters have differing philosophies. Terry repeatedly asks Peter if he's worried about issues such as the war (the Vietnam one in this case) and poverty. Peter responds in the negative, saying that basically he doesn't worry about these things too much and it doesn't bother him.

    However, if you listen closely, Peter closes out his part by saying, "If you had my outlook, your feelings would be numb; you'd always think that everything was fine." In other words, Peter is being portrayed as having his head in the sand and being indifferent to the world's problems. Nevertheless, part two closes on an optimistic note, but one of a call to action to make things work out. Furthermore the second part has an abrupt stop, leaving you with your thoughts. Think of this tune the next time you hear modern complaints of the polarization of United States society!

    Now listen to it again and notice the instrumentals - Peter and Terry's bass and guitar are also having a dialog, a feat all the more remarkable for Lamm, normally a keyboardist, having written the music as well.
  • The album trivia: This is ironically Chicago's fourth studio album, and the first single album - that is, normal length - since their earlier releases were double albums and one compilation of live sets.

Comments: 6

  • E from Holland OhioI’ve heard that this was an actual interview with Terry as the journalist and Peter as a college student.
  • Bill Schichner from LodiInterestingly, live Peter adds a line responding to Terry's line: "Don't it make you angry the way war is dragging on"
    Peter: "Well, I hope the president knows what he's into, I don't know... Nixon had to go, yeah".
    Peter added this in 1974 right after Nixon resigned.
  • Steve from Homer Glen, IllActually, sounds like a conversation between a concerned but somewhat clueless wanna-be social activist (Kath) and a clueless, party-animal college student (Cetera-"I also hope to keep a steady high," "I try to mind my business which is no business at all."). Kath brings up several social issues of the time and the student (Cetera) responds in an unattached, ignorant fashion and really adds nothing to the discussion of the societal ills that Kath brings up. Kath's character shows that he is just as clueless, as after hearing Cetera's character's meaningless statements says "thank you for the talk... you really eased my mind." So after hearing Cetera's character's clueless rambling, Kath's character has had his mind eased-silly.

    Great song musically; a bit of nonsense lyrically. Still love to blast it on my stereo!!! Also great in concert!
  • Bryan from Atlanta, GaThis is my #1 favorite Chicago tune! Part II has one of the best guitar rides in rock. I grin from ear to ear every time I hear it.
  • Jon from NjThe abrupt ending is symbolic of Censorship. The Dialogue is largely about the crazy politically-driven decisions being made in the 70s. And that censorship happens when one speaks out and makes too much anti-government noise. Speak up too loud and too long? Well, you'll get Shut Down. This was written, after all, when billyclubs and teargas seemed to be wielded fairly often, in official and public fashion, to persuade the teeming masses to fall back in line. Good Times. This was / is a great "serious" song as an alternative to the silly love songs of its time.
  • Camille from Toronto, OhI always liked this song from Chicago. Two great male voices, a unique song.
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