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Does Anyone in Chicago Know What Time It Is?

Dr. Spin finds his letters.

by Dr. Spin
July 29, 2002

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Does Anyone in Chicago Know What Time It Is?_Dr. Spin-Dr. Spin finds his letters. Dr. Spin answers questions from actual readers:

Dear Dr. Spin,

Is the Velvet Underground song "Heroin" really about LSD?

-Nimrod


Dear Nimrod,

Yes.


Dear Dr. Spin,

By the end of the band Chicago's hit "25 or 6 to 4," shouldn't vocalist Peter Cetera be singing "21 or 2 to 4?"

-Payne in the Americas


Dear Payne,

This question can be answered by another Chicago hit, “Does Anyone Really Know What Time It Is?” Obviously, the members of Chicago don’t really grasp the idea of time, nor (as the chorus of the song mentions) do they really care. Further evidence of the band’s irrelevance towards time is they can’t seem to grasp the idea that the era of ‘60’s Rock has ended, and that progressive rock bands aren’t interesting anymore.


Dear Dr. Spin,

I suspect that my wife may be cheating on me. Should I confront her?

-Clueless


Dear Clueless,

Obviously you have confused me with my good colleague, Dear Jon. I cannot answer your question because it does not pertain to music. Please send all questions of non-musical nature to Dear Jon.


Dr. Spin,
What exactly is Rhythm and Blues? Is it related to Motown? Does Motown still exist?
-Ignorant White Guy


Dear IWG,

There is much confusion surrounding the term “Rhythm and Blues.” By giving my limited understanding of the concept, I’m sure I will confuse it even more.

As I understand it, Rhythm and Blues was originally a distinctive way of playing the blues, as opposed to the straight blues of say, Robert Johnson, Leadbelly Better, and Muddy Waters. R&B, as it later became known, was one of the foundations of Rock, allowing blues a supporting “rhythm” section. R&B began as primarily “black folk” music, but with English bands trying to imitate the sound, the term “R&B” begun to receive a wider application. This is where things became confusing.

White bands, such as the Van Morrison-led Them, the Animals, the Small Faces, and Steve Winwood’s early band, the Spencer Davis group, were known as “R&B bands.” Around the same time the “Motown Sound” became popular, and acts such as the Temptations, Four Tops, and Smokey Robinson & the Miracles were also producing “R&B” and “Soul” music. White bands and artists that imitated this sound were referred to as “Blue-Eyed Soul.” However, by the ‘70’s most people agreed that white people really couldn’t do “Soul” music or R&B (because it evolved into a “black” thing) and besides Funk and Disco were all the craze anyway.

By the time the ‘80’s came around, Rock had splintered into so many factions that any band that claimed to be playing “R&B” would be treated as if they claimed they had come from Mars. It was a fun concept for a movie, such as “The Commitments,” but “old-fashioned R&B” just wouldn’t sell. Meanwhile, the term “R&B” became associated with everything African-Americans recorded, with the exception of rap, which some argue was never really music at all.

Today, R&B doesn’t really sound like the old “Rhythm and Blues,” but no one really cares, and Motown, if it still exists, is owned by some conglomerate recording company, which is owned by some conglomerate media company, which is either owned by Ted Turner or Bill Gates.

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