Have You Heard This Version of “Beginnings”?

Just to recap (because this isn’t the “Beginnings” of my Chicago love): Chicago, love Chicago, Chicago, Jason Scheff = hot, love their music, love Chicago. Chicago, Chicago, freakin’ Chicago! Spoiler alert: This is about one of their live performances. Back out now.

So, you’re still here. That’s good!

Not The Beginnings Of My Chicago Articles…

…and not the ending either!

If you’ve seen enough Chicago concert footage, you know by now that the sound, regardless of the vocalist, barely changes. From Peter Cetera to Jason Scheff, Terry Kath to Bill Champlin (let’s skip Donnie Dacus, please!) to Lou Pardini, the person changes, but the quality does not. The only difference I’ve ever noticed is with “Colour My World” – that song changed hands several times, from Terry Kath to Bill Champlin to Robert Lamm to Lee Loughnane (who currently sings it), but it has never decreased in quality.

It’s still not my favorite Chicago song, but I don’t have a problem with it.


So, when you hear the Chicago song “Beginnings,” this is the version you likely know best…

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Or, this version…

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And, this version…

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It’s all nice, it’s all amazing, and it’s all Robert Lamm…and sometimes Phillip Bailey. But always Robert Lamm.

Robert Lamm, circa 2003

But what happens when the person whose made that song sound incredible for so many years gets a sore throat prior to a concert, and needs a little help?

Well, it happened!

Devon, Pennsylvania: August 4, 1994

As the story goes, Robert Lamm was at the concert (part of the Valley Forge Music Fair) that evening, and had a sore throat, effectively limiting him to singing songs from the their then-current album, Night and Day: Big Band. But when you’re backed by a talented group of seasoned pros (including two other lead vocalists), ready to jump in, you know you’ve got the best.

Bill Champlin took the reigns of “Saturday in the Park,” but it was Jason Scheff who sang that it was only the beginning!

Jason Scheff – July 1993 at the Greek Theatre

That’s right, Jason Scheff took lead on “Beginnings,” and the audio exists. I wish it were video, but can’t be picky, this version is incredible!

Would you like to hear it?

“Beginnings” (With Jason Scheff on Lead Vocals!)

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Scheff captures the mood of the song perfectly, and hopefully, he smiled the way Robert Lamm does singing this. :-)

Related: Filed Under “Chicago”

Did You Know Chicago Performed on Solid Gold? – The group’s 1987 appearance on the dance/music hybrid Solid Gold!

Have You Heard Tris Imboden’s Chicago Story? – Tris Imboden departed Chicago after 28 years in January 2018, but did you know how he got started with the group?

Chicago Did Hip Hop?! – Stone of Sisyphus keeps on rolling, and spawned the most unconventional of Chicago songs. You’re in for a surprise!

Watch The Peanuts Gang Rocking Out To Chicago! – YouTuber Garren Lazar takes on Chicago songs…with a few familiar faces!

Have You Heard Chicago’s “The Pull”? – First performed at the Greek Theatre in 1993, this rare Chicago song was another offering from Stone of Sisyphus. 

David Foster Is Playing With Fire…And Chicago’s Horn Section! – That time James Pankow, Walter Parazaider, and Lee Loughnane provided their horns for a David Foster instrumental…

Chicago Did Disco?! – …and when you hear it, you’ll never forget it! (Not sure if that’s a good thing…)

Chicago Proclaims Someone Else is “Bigger Than Elvis” – Jason Scheff pours his heart out in a song about his father, Elvis Presley’s bassist, Jerry Scheff.

Will You Still Love the Changing Face of Chicago? – Peter Cetera is out, Jason Scheff is in. Will you still love them?

Hard to Say I’m Sorry (That You May Never Have Heard this Chicago Song Before!) – Resign yourself to getting this catchy, horn section-heavy song stuck in your head!

Along Comes a Woman…And Indiana Cetera! – Peter Cetera plays Indiana Jones, the James Pankow and Lee Loughnane rough up Robert Lamm a little, and Cetera (as Humphrey Bogart) gets taken away by police.  It’s a funny music video.

Christmas with Horns –  A look at Chicago’s first Christmas album, Chicago 25, and the follow up, What’s It Gonna Be, Santa?

Old Days…Good Times Some Didn’t Have! – Keith Howland takes the reigns on a classic Chicago song about growing up.

Music Helplines: Nostalgic Music Is Just A Phone Call Away!

Current life situation got you down? Feel that you’re out of touch? Do you feel it callin’ in the air tonight? Longing for old days? Don’t think twice that it’s alright, Sweet Caroline! Pick up the phone and call one of five (yes, five!) music helplines to soothe that current life situation!

Where Does She Find This Stuff?

Why, the internet! You use it for your needs, I’ll use it for mine…and my nefarious, entertaining, and strange purposes.

You call it weird, I call it research!

Seriously Though, Music Helplines?

Yes, Music Helplines! And in 2011, it became a thing, beginning with these two guys makin’ all your dreams come true!

The concept is simple: dial a number, get a robot voice that prompts you to dial an option (1, 2, 3, or 4, or, in the case of the Hall and Oates line, 5, 6, 7, and 8), and listen to the song each prompt corresponds with. Because there’s a time where you don’t have a device with music on it (I never have this problem), and you absolutely NEED Phil Collins to remind you she’s an easy lover, Neil Diamond to sing about Sweet Caroline, Hall and Oates to give you some Adult Education, Bob Dylan To Be Your Baby Tonight, or Chicago to remind you of a certain Saturday in a certain park.

So naturally, there is only one course of action here, because writing it out doesn’t do it justice, right?

Allison’s Callin’ Oates (And Those Other Music Helplines!)

Well, I tried to call, and well…all the “helplines” except for Callin’ Oates are disconnected. I was so excited, I shot a video of the experience of dialing a phone number and getting a music fix. Instead, I got a bunch of Verizon Wireless error messages.  Totally not cool.

However, as I said, Callin’ Oates still works!

The playlist in the video is the original 2011 playlist. An updated version in 2012 gave Hall and Oates fans (did they have a grouping name?) eight new songs, as well as spin-offs for Phil Collins, Chicago, Bob Dylan, and Neil Diamond. As I said, these additions to the “music helpline” family of “emergency music contribution” no longer exist, but the original Callin’ Oates does.

Go on and click play for a short demonstration!

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If internet searches as forces of evil include the need for Hall and Oates, then fine, I’m “evil.” :-)

Related Readings

Ringing In The Anniversary of Callin’ Oates: A 2012 article celebrating the first anniversary of Callin’ Oates, and the introduction of several other music helplines. Published on Twilio.

Music Monday – March 5, 2018: I talk about the latest song to get stuck in my head…a Hall and Oates song!

Did You Know Chicago Performed on Solid Gold?

Chicago on Solid Gold? Seriously, Chicago the band on a show known for dancers in gold lame shorts…in the same sentence?!

I’ll let that sink in.

Guess What Allison Found!

Fresh off their post-Cetera lineup change in 1985-1986, Chicago proved they can play the heck out of any venue…even if that venue was known for female dancers in gold lame shorts dancing to the day’s biggest songs. You probably didn’t know Chicago performed on Solid Gold, and neither did I…until now!

But It’s True!

In 1987, Chicago performed not one, but TWO songs from Chicago 18 – Adult Contemporary radio staple (31 years and counting!) “Will You Still Love Me?”

…and the lesser-known Bill Champlin/David Foster-penned “It’s Alight.” For the record, there were no gold lame shorts-clad dancers slinking around the stage to “It’s Alright.”

Because it would just be weird if they did it to “Will You Still Love Me,” right?

Here’s my point – there were no dancers.  Just lots of neon shirts, mustachioed Bill Champlin, and Jason Scheff’s permullet.

I swear, you get a 23-year-old lead singer, and suddenly, you start appealing to the youth!

You’d love to hear/see these songs, wouldn’t you?

Will You Still Love Me For Sharing This Performance?

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I swear, this song has the effect of forcing you to forgive Jason Scheff for something – anything – that he probably has ever done. Every transgression, disagreement, and argument – forgiven when he sings this.

If he threw in a hair flip, this article would be a series of keystrokes I didn’t even realize I made. Because my head probably hit the keyboard upon blacking out.

But wait, there’s more! And Robert Lamm is happy to tell you all about it!

It’s Alright…Oh, Right! That’s the Name of the Song!

Robert Lamm, proud emcee and spokesperson, is happy to introduce their next song, and its singer!

And he used the song’s title to describe it – he’s so funny!

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So, here’s my question: how did this song not see a release? It’s a great song, combining everything we love about Chicago with the sweet 1980s sound that made up the second wave of their legacy. And Bill Champlin, despite how I feel about his attitude toward his time with Chicago, has an amazing voice. His contributions were always a welcome delight.

Plus there’s no denying he truly had the coolest mullet of them all….

…until his gorgeous mane of awesomeness took over.

Have You Heard Tris Imboden’s Chicago Story?

“As many of you have already heard, our long-time drummer Tris Imboden has resigned. For nearly thirty years Tris has shared his tremendous talent, and indeed his life, with Chicago. We are fortunate to have known him and grateful to have shared the stage with him these many years. He has been a great friend and band mate and we’ll miss his enthusiasm and contagious smile. We wish Tris and Mary a lifetime of happiness together.” – Statement from Chicago’s website

The Chicago Shakeup

I logged onto YouTube yesterday to find a response to a comment I made on a Chicago performance video that vocalist and bassist Jeff Coffey left the group. His leaving comes after only joining the group full time in October 2016 (he initially filled in for Scheff during his leave of absence in mid-2016), but also two days after another shakeup in the group.

As the statement says, after twenty-eight years of drumming and flashing a smile that says “I love my job” (and not in the fake way people who actually hate their job smile), Tris Imboden resigned from the group. His recent marriage and the rigorous travel and touring schedule were cited as his reasons. While this makes me sad, the decision was obviously for great reason, thus proving that we haven’t seen the last of Tris Imboden’s talent.

What we have seen the last of, however, is this.

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1990: The Summer Without A Tour

Tris Imboden’s Chicago story begins long before his arrival in 1990 – he saw the group perform as an opening act in 1968 (remember, they were new at the time!), and he loved their music immediately. Imboden’s talents took him to the Kenny Loggins Band (yes, that  Kenny Loggins), as well as Al Jureau, among other talents. The summer of 1990 saw Tris without either band he toured with going on tour that summer. The opportunity he was given was hard to pass up, and the rest, as they say, is history. For Tris Imboden, it was a twenty-eight-year journey that even his battle with Stage 3A Lung Cancer couldn’t put to an end.

Would You Like To Hear Tris’s Chicago Story?

I think the better question is: Would you like to hear Tris tell you about his career both before AND with Chicago?

I uploaded his excerpts from the mini-documentary The New Guys, filmed in 2014 and included as a bonus feature on the Blu-Ray of Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago.

Go on, check it out (click his name below the picture), and also witness Tris’s mad harmonica skills!

The New Guys – Tris Imboden (Upload to WordPress via Allison’s Written Words)

Excerpts: 1968, Being A Musician in the 1970s, Joining Chicago, and 1990

Thanks, Tris!

I said it on Twitter already (Chicago and Imboden both “liked” my tweet), but I’ll say it again: This author wishes Tris Imboden all the best in his future successes. His time with Chicago was amazing, and his talent will be missed!

(And this was before Chicago liked the tweet!)