My Favorite Song About Chicago

“Cars and Parties” by Edith Frost, a song by a Chicago transplant for Chicago transplants about the tension between going out and staying home.

Been in a wistful mood all day, due to a confluence of factors. Not that it takes much, usually just waking up will do it. But I set my holiday vacation today, and thinking about where I grew up, and having left, always does it. I also went to a big book release party at the Hideout—a celebration of a book written, designed, and edited by friends and former co-workers—and I sat outside on a cool, pleasant night talking to old and new friends I’ve made here. Something about the confluence of those two communities put me in a melancholy mood, like people being nice to me usually does.

It’s probably why I don’t leave the house that much. And why I woke up with Edith Frost’s “Cars and Parties” stuck in my head:

That’s just about my favorite sentiment in American music: “there’s too many cars ’round here, and too many parties.”

According to Frost, it’s about “activity, and kinda being torn between staying home or going out, maybe.” But she takes that hesitation, which usually disguises itself as sloth, and expands it into a transplant’s lament—and the place, for me, where that hesitation comes from. Even though I’ve been here for a decade it’s all too familiar. Of all the excellent songs about Chicago, it’s my favorite.


NB: That’s the demo of the song; the album version, with typically lush chamber-rock production from Steve Albini, is below, and is a bit punchier.

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