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Throwback Thursday – Chicago (Transit Authority) Debut Album

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The year is 1969. The Vietnam War continues despite campaign promises from President Nixon to end the war. NASA is on target for the first lunar landing in July. And a band named after the public transit system in America’s second largest city debuts with a double album – unheard of in the recording industry, but then this is no ordinary group.

All the years later the first Chicago album is still one of those in my collection that I listen to often.

The band’s original lineup included saxophonist Walter Parazaider, guitarist Terry Kath, drummer Danny Seraphine, trombonist Jame Pankow, trumpeter Lee Laughnane, and keyboardist/singer Robert Lamm. The band’s nucleus met in 1967 at Indiana’s DePaul University. Lamm attended  Roosevelt University. Called “The Big Thing”, playing top 40 hits, they realized they needed a tenor to complement baritone Lamm and Kath and bassist Peter Cetera. After moving to LA the band signed with Columbia Records and changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority.

Their first album sold over one million copies (platinum disc) by 1970 and included the hits Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is, Beginnings, Questions 67 and 68 and I’m A Man. Threatened with legal action for use of the Transit Authority’s name the band shortened their name to simply Chicago.

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The well engineered album featured a number of innovative recording techniques using multiple track recording to capture not only the individual instruments and vocals but also  multiple microphones on the drums to allow for a “panoramic” sound as if the listener were sitting on stage with the group. Listen to it with a great pair of headphones to receive the full effect. Although the recording method was not unique to this album it was rare for its time. Most stereo recordings were mastered featured instruments mixed to favor either the left or right channels with the vocal more or less centered if not more prominent over the instrumentation in one or the other channels. Some recording engineers attempted to recreate the experience of listening to a group from an audience perspective. Both methods are still used today to create the stereo image of the music in playback.

Chicago went on to become one of the most successful and prolific recording groups in history producing several hits in the seventies and eighties. Although there have been personnel changes over the years the band is still actively performing.

#Chicago #ChicagoTransitAuthority #70sMusic #Recording

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Interview with Emily Belden Author of the Best Selling Memoir Eightysixed: Life Lessons Learned

FINAL FRONT COVER for Amazon

Funny things happen on to way to thirty but also many problems and some downright strange situations. In Eightysixed Emily Belden tells her experiences of being a twenty-something young woman looking for love in the big city (Chicago) in a humorous yet touching way. It’s like talking to one of your best friends from high school or college.

These days Emily is a busy young lady with a lot of things going on from her successful blog http://www.totalebag.com to an online store for greeting cards directed to the LGBT community. Oh, and yes, she was the lady who tiled her bedroom floor in pennies. But she made the time to answer a few questions for me and, as always her answers are uniquely genuine and amusing.

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Me: Thanks this doing this. Let’s start with the question everyone asks about a memoir. How closely do the interactions in your books mirror your real life?

Emily: There are no made up people or situations in Eightysixed. The most that was done to futz with things was change some of the names and identifying qualities to protect “the innocent” (I use that term loosely). So, this book in many ways is a perfect mirror to my life; specifically the past and not as much the present. I’m old and boring now. The only relationships that I contend with on a daily basis are with my soon-to-be husband, Ryan Lange, and our rescue pitbulls: Mr. Jarbles and Gus.

Me: At some a point in every professional writer’s life it stops being a hobby and starts being a vocation. When did that happen for you and why did you choose to pursue this career?

Emily: I knew that the more I wrote in my “Dear Diary,” the more I was saying to myself, “This could be a book!” So I made it one. It wasn’t until I reread the final part (Part 3) that I felt what a normal reader would feel (vs. the critical eye of the author herself) and realized this thing does something for the soul and I must, MUST, share it with the world.

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Me: When writing I’m sure you hit snags where characters aren’t behaving or the plot just isn’t working. When that happens to me I play video solitaire. What do you do?

Emily: I eat. Whenever writer’s block happens, I literally fix myself a sandwich, chips, and a Diet Coke and retake my seat at the computer. Something about a little distraction coupled with the endorphins that good food releases and I am back in no time.

Me: Where would you be at this moment in your life had you never decided to write a book?

Emily: I would be a full-time copywriter at an agency in downtown Chicago making no money to come up with genius headlines that would never see the light of day. I would have a lot more free time, which would mean that I could dedicate my life to my second dream: finding the best chocolate chip cookie in the United States.

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Me: Every writer has that one story that clicked, inspiring him or her to pursue writing as a career. What was the story and what was there about it that made it influential?

Emily: For me, it was Beautiful Boy by David Sheff. He is a father who wrote about his teenage son’s nasty drug addiction. You get a front row seat to the spiral. You see an array of human darkness, truth, and mistakes. And while my book is upbeat and humorous, David Sheff gave me the courage to write like no one is watching, like no one will judge you for the mistakes you’ve made that are a part of who you are today.

I’d like to thank Emily Belden again for taking the time to answer a few question and let all of you know that she is working on another book. But in the meantime you can visit her online at:

Website:         www.totalebag.com

Facebook:       https://www.facebook.com/EmilyBeldenAuthor

Twitter:          https://twitter.com/emilybelden