Music News

Chicago (versus Indy): The Musical!

The bookies in Vegas have made the Indianapolis Colts favorites by a touchdown in Super Bowl XLI, which, as we all know, will be played at our very own Dolphin Stadium. This betting line is of considerable interest to most Americans, because most Americans are degenerate gamblers and the Super Bowl is the Super Bowl of gambling degeneracy. A hundred billion dollars (give or take) — or enough to buy every starving child in Africa a brand-new set of shoulder pads — will change hands based on who wins Sunday. This shit matters.

Accordingly, many of our finest citizens will devote long hours to breaking down statistics, studying film, and scrutinizing Peyton Manning's astrological data. Here at Rock 'n' Roll Central, we don't have time for that kind of research, so we're relying on our own surefire method of picking a winner, the so-called Whomp-o-meterTM, which proceeds from the intuitive notion that the performance of any NFL team in the Super Bowl correlates precisely to the musical reputation of its hometown.

Sounds crazy, right?

That's what they said about Internet porn.

So, ready to make some easy money, degenerate gamblers? Let's roll...

The mass migration of poor Southern blacks to the Midwest's largest city spurs the creation of a new musical genre, Chicago blues, in effect electrifying the Delta blues. Among the stars: Sonny Boy Williamson, Howlin' Wolf, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Otis Rush, Willie Dixon, and Muddy Waters. Chicago 7, Indy 0

Half a dozen record labels, including Chess Records, Okeh, and ABC-Paramount, help popularize Chicago soul, with its laid-back harmonies and smooth pop horn charts. Early practitioners include Sam Cooke, Etta James, and Jackie Wilson. Chicago 14, Indy 0

Early jazz greats Freddy Hubbard (trumpet) and J.J. Johnson (trombone) are born and raised in Indianapolis. Both must move to New York, however, before anyone takes notice of their playing. Chicago 14, Indy 3

Miles Davis. Chicago 28, Indy 3

Mavis Staples helps put the Windy City's thriving gospel scene on the map. Chicago 35, Indy 3

Chicago (the band) forms. Chicago 32, Indy 3

John Mellencamp, native of Seymour, Indiana (that's somewhere around Indianapolis, right?), launches a series of bands, including Crepe Soul, Trash, and Snakepit Banana Barn. Astonishingly, all fail to make him famous. Chicago 39, Indy 3

Chicago stakes a claim to classical music notoriety with companies that include the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, Chicago Opera Theater, and the Chicago Chamber Musicians. Chicago 45, Indy 3

1980s hit-maker and Indy native Henry Lee Summer is arrested on a drunken rampage through a local trailer park and subsequently Tasered into submission by police. Chicago 48, Indy 3

In a tragic but unrelated incident, the Smashing Pumpkins release a debut album. Chicago 48, Indy 6

(Proposed entertainment: Summer and Chicago porn crooner R. Kelly duet on the Summer composition "The Boys and the Girls Are Doin' It" — while in leg irons.)

John Mellencamp (now John Cougar) releases his breakthrough Uh-Huh, which includes the hits "Hurts So Good" and "Jack and Diane," the latter of which introduces an entirely new lexicon of sexual slang to the Midwest, i.e. "Sucking on a chilidog." Soon after, he insists on being called John Cougar Mellencamp. Chicago 48, Indy 13

Liz Phair comes out with her seminal debut, Exile in Guyville, the cover of which pictures her trying to give a blowjob to an unidentified male, who has left the room. Chicago 55, Indy 13

Chicago (the band again) breaks up. Chicago 62, Indy 13

Indy's own Kiss tribute band, Kist, adopts the slogan: Bringing the rock and roll circus to your town! "Kist, simply put, is the compilation of a nationwide talent search that procured four of the nation's finest actor/musicians, combined with a dazzling stage production, that 'delivers the goods' in an up-close and personal format." Simply put. Chicago 71, Indy 13

Innovative Chicago DJs help give birth to the throbbing dance genre known as house music. Chicago 78, Indy 13

Curtis Mayfield. Chicago 85, Indy 13

Rappers Common, Twista, Kanye West, and Lupe Fiasco break out, helping Chicago establish itself as a viable alternative to the East Coast/West Coast monopoly on senseless hip-hop homicides. Chicago 92, Indy 13

Indy responds by nominating its own up-and-coming MCs, Youngkros and Fluggie. (Reports of mass Fluggiemania prove to be apocryphal.) Chicago 92, Indy 10

John Cougar Mellencamp releases his socially conscious masterpiece, Scarecrow; helps organize Farm Aid; and refuses to allow alcohol or tobacco companies to sponsor his tours. He later insists on being called John Cougar MellenKist. Chicago 92, Indy 13

Alt-country darling Wilco breaks up, allowing Chicago frontman Jeff Tweedy to pursue his dream of releasing a solo album dedicated to the lesser-known yodeling ballads of Hank Williams Sr. Chicago 95, Indy 13

Indy's latest homegrown heroes, the Virgin Millionaires, sign a major-label deal that will allow them to transmit their emotive arena rock across state lines. Chicago 95, Indy 16

Chicago (the musical turned film) wins the Oscar for Best Picture. Plans to release Indy, a musical adaptation of Days of Thunder, are fast-tracked. Chicago 103, Indy 16

Axl Rose (native of Lafayette, Indiana, a mere 63 miles from Indy) reveals he is a longtime closeted fan of Henry Lee Summer's. Chicago 103, Indy 4.

Final score: Chicago 103, Indy 4

Our pick: Chicago and the 98 points

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Steve Almond
Contact: Steve Almond