Sep 11, 2007

On Chicago, "Dialogue (Part I & II)," and Iraq

One of my all-time favorite songs is the two-part jazz-rock musical conversation "Dialogue" by Chicago, which was released on the 1972 LP Chicago V.

For those of you too young to remember the song, or who destroyed too many brain cells in the 1960s and 1970s, here is a clip of the band performing "Dialogue" live in 1975:

Trading lead vocals in the song are the late guitarist Terry Kath and bassist Peter Cetera, who skillfully bring to life a discussion between friends about war. Kath's character is a somewhat pessimistic, quasi-liberal person who questions the merits of war in a time of widespread hunger, while Cetera's character is a more optimistic, pro-establishment type who "always thinks that everything is fine."

What I always appreciated most about the song is that neither the war protester nor the government supporter are demonized. Neither of them claims to have the answers to the world's problems, and each recognizes the validity of the other's perspective despite their disagreement:
Kath: Don't it make you angry
The way the war is dragging on?

Cetera: Well, I hope the President knows
What he's into, I don't know.
It would have been easy for the band to turn the Cetera character into a blind fool who keeps his head in the metaphorical sand, but instead they chose to capture this moment of Platonic dialogue in a manner that treats both characters with dignity, even when the position held by the pro-war Cetera is untenable. Part II ends with Kath and Cetera singing about changing the world and saving its children.

And yet, as I listen to the rhetoric used by the opposing camps in the debate over the Iraq War, I become discouraged. The discourse between those who support the war and those who oppose it has eroded to the point where rational and reciprocal dialogue no longer occurs. True, this was also the case at the height of the debate over the Vietnam War, but a part of me still believes that humanity can rise above gutter-level rhetoric.

Believe it, people. We can change the world.


microdot said...

Hmmm, could it be the utter frustration of one side having to defend and justify an impossible situation with no obvious solutiion as opposed to the other side having the frustration of trying to protest against an impossible situation with no obvious solution?

I think I have just written the lyrics for Lou Reeds nest record.

mud_rake said...

Apparently music is the only commonality in this ugly reality.

Barb said...

It is always easy for the people who are not in charge to challenge those who are --to criticize everything they do. Especially when they hope to take charge from the GOP in 2008.

Those sincere in their criticisms of leadership, usually don't have access to all the same info--or worse yet, maybe they do have access to the same info in a land of free press and bi-partisan security committees, but they don't believe the info. In this case, some think Bush was self-serving going into Iraq--and just a liar. Some people believe they were on UFO's, too. There is nothing we can do about willful misperception and the deluded.

Some gov't critics are sincere in predicting that Iraq is a hopeless mess without tyranny--can't be helped because of their factions. But they seem short-sighted to me. At heart, don't all well-meaning people prefer peace and prosperity for their children and the future? Can we not appeal to the warring factions for this? and get them united in policing their less thoughtful war-mongering elements?
Where is that Islamic message that Muslims should unite for peace and prosperity of their nations?

Of course, I say a religion born of Lucifer as the angelic inspiration to Mohammad's book, will be contentious to the end --to the Battle of Armageddon under the antiChrist--after which Christ will return and reign over a peaceful earth --or a new heaven and a new earth--as prophesied.

As for our national leadership, when you make decisions for good reasons including info about WMD -- and can't guarantee outcomes because you aren't the only party involved --the last thing you need is to have your house divided, having a fight on all fronts --including the homefront.

microdot said...

alrighty then, so much for our problems in Iraq, I guess that sums it all up quite concisely in a nutshell!

microdot said...

This is a day later....
Did you catch any of Barak Obamas speech in Iowa yesterday?
Other Democratic Presidential Hopefuls have demanded the immediate withdrawal fo US troops from Iraq, but he is the only one to have offered concrete ideas and proposals for the future.
Of course, it will be torn apart as a knee jerk reaction, but it was a bravce, bold move that has suddenly turned the debate from one of vapid resignation to an impossible situation into a new discussion of real concrete possibilities that have to be considered and discussed before they are dismissed.
I read that he worked with Colin Powell and Zebignew Bresinski in formulating his proposals!

-Sepp said...

Microdot, you obviously haven't checked out Ron Paul. Ideas, solutions and the only promise the man is making is a return to strict constitutional government.

Anonymous said...

Terrific song that encapsulates a transition in American youth culture: from the diminishing liberal activist/idealist(Kath) to the apathetic, 70s, Me-generation stoner(Cetera). Good point about the lack of demonization.