Chicago (Graham Nash song)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Chicago - Graham Nash.jpg
Single by Graham Nash
from the album Songs for Beginners
B-side"Simple Man"
ReleasedMay 1971
Songwriter(s)Graham Nash
Graham Nash singles chronology
"Military Madness"

"Chicago" (often listed as "Chicago / We Can Change the World") is a song written by Graham Nash for his solo debut album Songs for Beginners. As a single, it reached number 35 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart and 29 on the Cash Box Top 100.[1] It is his highest charting single. In Canada, "Chicago" peaked at number 19.[2] The song also made the Dutch Charts in 1971, peaking at number 5.


The title and lyrics of the song refer to the anti-Vietnam War protests that took place during the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago and the subsequent trial of the Chicago Eight, where protest leaders were charged with conspiracy to incite a riot. The first line of the song, "So your brother's bound and gagged, and they've chained him to a chair", refers to Black Panther leader Bobby Seale,[3] the sole African-American defendant, who was gagged and chained to a chair in the courtroom following repeated outbursts in protest of rulings by Judge Julius Hoffman.

The line "Won't you please come to Chicago just to sing?" refers to Nash pleading with bandmates Stephen Stills and Neil Young to come to Chicago to play a benefit concert for the Chicago 8 defense fund. The chorus contains the lines, "We can change the world / Rearrange the World".

On the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young live album, Four Way Street (1971), Nash dedicates the song to "Mayor Daley", a sardonic reference to Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley, who was notoriously antagonistic towards anti-war protesters. CSN and CSNY still play the song live.

In June 2008, in Denver, Colorado, CSN played a slightly rewritten version of the song called "Denver", in anticipation of the 2008 Democratic National Convention.[4]

Chart performance[edit]


Sherbet cover[edit]

In 1973, Australian band Sherbet recorded an extended version of Chicago for their album On With The Show, which went for over 10 minutes. Sherbet also performed a live version of the song on Australian TV show GTK.[7]

David Gilmour cover[edit]

In August 2009, Pink Floyd's David Gilmour released an online version, titled "Chicago - Change the World", on which he sang and played guitar, bass and keyboards, to promote awareness of the plight of Gary McKinnon. It featured Chrissie Hynde and Bob Geldof, plus McKinnon himself, and was made with Nash's support.[8]

Hip hop samples[edit]

In 1999, rapper/producer Kanye West and Beanie Sigel sampled Chicago on the single "The Truth"; in 2003, Westside Connection used the same sample for their single, Gangsta Nation.


  1. ^ a b "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-07-07. Retrieved 2015-07-07.
  2. ^ a b "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  3. ^ "Mr. Fish: Mr. Fish in Conversation With Graham Nash - Interviews -Truthdig". Truthdig. Retrieved 31 March 2016.
  4. ^ Crosby, Stills & Nash - "Denver" (6/26/08) - Antiwar DNC. 27 June 2008. Retrieved 31 March 2016 – via YouTube.
  5. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1971" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  6. ^ "Jaaroverzichten – Single 1971" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Hung Medien. Retrieved February 25, 2018.
  7. ^ "Chicago - Sherbet". Youtube. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  8. ^ "Chicago". Retrieved 2009-08-04.

External links[edit]