Sunday, August 23, 2009


#235, South Loop, Chicago

City of the Big Shoulders. And of cool stencil numbers. This yellow post was, and probably still is, holding up the El tracks south of the Loop. There are a few sights and sounds I forever associate with Chicago, but maybe the most prominent is the rattling noise of a passing El train.

When I was 17, I made my very first 4-track recording at my brother's apartment on Albion. There was just me, my new nylon string acoustic guitar, and a compact hunk of gorgeous analog recording gear in an airy room with hardwood floors. And, of course, there was the El, the trusty, industrious elevated railway, with cars passing so close to the apartment it shook the window panes. We had to time our takes so we started recording just after a train passed, crossing our fingers one wouldn't slash by from the opposite direction anytime soon.

In any city, there is something reassuring about steel and rivets and train tracks. But in my personified Chicago, thanks, in equal parts to Carl Sandburg and Nelson Algren, the steel is a little bit stronger and rivets a little bit tighter. And the trains I could ride all day long.

1 comment:

Julie said...

Really nice text to this one. There was a film somewhere where the killer was tracked by the hero recognising the sound of the El as b/g noise in a phone call.

I like these rivets.