Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Beautifully Mysterious Thing

On Chicago's best song, "Questions 67 and 68," the singer asks, by my count, just eight questions, and that's counting the sole question in the song's chorus - "Can you tell me?" - three separate times. So what were the first 66 questions? And which of the song's questions constitute the next two?

It turns out we're approaching this problem wrongly. The song's writer, Robert Lamm, dated a girl for two years, 1967 and 1968, during which she fostered many questions for him to think about, as girls tend to do. The year after their breakup, he had crystallized some of these questions into a song, and the song charted in Billboard's Hot 100 at Number 71.

Two years later, when "67 and 68" no longer so obviously referred to a pair of years, the single was re-released, and went all the way to Number Twenty-Four in the fall of 1971. Incidentally, my friend Gavin Edwards was discussing on his web site a while back songs in which the title doesn't appear until the final line; here's a sterling example of that.

3 comments:

Kinky Paprika said...

"Questions 67 and 68" -- Chicago's best song?
Wha'?

It's not even the best Chicago song with the title at the end, if you bend the rules a little and allow "Colour My World."

A much better song with the title at the very end is "Every Picture Tells A Story."

T. Nawrocki said...

I stand by my statement.

Kinky Paprika said...

I know no one will ever see this comment ... but did you know of the existence of "Questions 67 and 68" in Japanese?

http://www.nme.com/video/id/-7pk8wdJIRU/search/questions