Paper Lace: “The Night Chicago Died”

Posted: January 12, 2014 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
Tags: , , , , ,
Tune du Jour: “The Night Chicago Died” – Paper Lace
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes: No Empathy vs. Yo La Tengo
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)


Everybody's Dressin' Funny ... Cover Me Impressed!

Everybody’s Dressin’ Funny … Cover Me Impressed!

Many would argue that The Night Chicago Died is the worst song of all time. However, they’d be wrong. The song’s potential for infamy is limited to possibly being the second worst song of all time as Billy, Don’t Be A Hero currently and mostly likely always will hold the distinction of being the worst the music world has ever produced. Amazingly, both abominations were first recorded by the same band, the all-time abysmal “Paper Lace”.

The Night Chicago Died reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for one week in 1974, reached number 3 in the UK charts, and number 2 in Canada. And why not? This assault on one’s sensibilities had everything you’d look for in a 1970’s hit: rudimentary, grade-school level verses, lyrics teeming with sappy emotion, a simple John Wayne good guys always win in the end patriotic mentality, a catchy chorus that stays with you like herpes and some electric guitar licks to enforce just how hip the song and, by extension, its listeners must truly be.

“Paper Lace” sent a copy of The Night Chicago Died to then Mayor Richard J. Daley who apparently hated it. So at least there is one minute reason to extend a very small modicom of respect to the man.

The Original


Paper Lace:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes


No Empathy vs. Yo La Tengo


No Empathy:

Yo La Tengo:

Beginning in 1996, Yo La Tengo supported the fundraising efforts of New York’s world-renowned independent radio outlet WFMU with annual studio visits. All listeners who pledged money during the band’s appearances were offered the chance to request a favorite song that Yo La Tengo would then attempt to perform; no rehearsals, no advance word of what the requests might be, just plug it in and kick it out. The spontaneous element is impressive and, at times, hysterical. It is from one of these sessions that Yo La Tengo’s version of The Night Chicago Died was produced.

Yo La Tengo is a recipient of CMI’s universally coveted title of Uni Victor Melodious Maximus in Adversarial Replication. Among the title’s myriad of rewards and benefits, perhaps most desirous is that it bestows upon the recipient the eminently yearned for privilege of having one’s name appear in print media in bold yellow.

Yo La Tengo’s triumphal performance in CMI’s THE CLASH of Cover Tunes competition is detailed below:

10/1/2013 – “Somebody’s Baby” (Jackson Browne) – Yo La Tengo (90%) annihilate The Gamits (10%)

Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. Only one cover tune will live to play another day and it is your solemn responsibility to decide which one prevails. So tell me … Which Side Are You On?!!?



Votes can be cast up to seven days from the day and time of the original post.

Disclaimer: Votes cast from Florida may or may not be counted.

  1. Cuspid says:

    I definitely enjoyed Ya Lo Tengo’s version, especially the part where they forgot the lyrics. I was cool because anyone who really can remember all the words to this song in the right order needs to have his brains examined. Bu No Empathy achieves the feat, of taking an almost unlistenable song and making it listenable and funny. God bless ’em.

  2. Kerry Black says:

    …the notoriously tough and lawless “East Side” of Chicago…

    • RDubbs says:

      Yeah, odd as it may sound there is no area that is commonly referred to as the “East Side”; their are areas commonly referred to as the “North Side”, “West Side” and “South Side” but for whatever reason, no “East Side”. The songwriters subsequently admitted that they had never been to Chicago, nor did they know much about the actual Al Capone. Their “knowledge” came solely from gangster films they had seen.

  3. RDubbs says:

    Love Yo La Tengo’s effort and spunk. But as Cuspid said, No Empathy actually somehow turned this monstrosity into a pretty good sounding song.

  4. Cuspid says:

    There is an East Side of Chicago. It’s called Lake Michigan!

  5. Arnie Plotnick says:

    This is a horrible, horrible song any way you look at it. Yo La Tengo’s version is impressive, being off the cuff like this, but No Empathy’s thrashing version almost rescues the song. Almost. They win.

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