Paper Lace: “The Night Chicago Died”

Posted: January 19, 2016 in THE CLASH of Cover Tunes
Tags: , , , , ,
Tune du Jour: “The Night Chicago Died” – Paper Lace
THE CLASH of Cover Tunes:
Frontier Wives vs. Jaak Joala vs No Empathy vs Yo La Tengo
Peruse, Comment and Vote (I Beseech, Implore and Urge Thee, respectively)


Broc 3 - Cover Me Impressed

Everybody’s Dressin’ Funny … Cover Me Impressed!

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. 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”.

“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

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Paper Lace:


THE CLASH of Cover Tunes

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Frontier Wives vs. Jaak Joala vs. No Empathy vs. Yo La Tengo

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Frontier Wives:

Okay, these guys’ rendition was included because it looks like they are having a really good time and the raucous audience is definitely enjoying themselves as well.

Jaak Joala:

This guy’s version was included because it is sung in Estonian and any significant change as such to this miserable song is most certainly a welcome relief.

No Empathy:

This version was included because it is forkin’ great and something had to save today’s blog from its own misery.

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.

And so this version was included because … it’s YO LA TENGO so of course it had to be included!!!


Oh the disharmony! Much like Harlan County there are no neutrals here. It is your solemn responsibility to decide which cover song prevails. In other words … Which Side Are You On?!!? 



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



  1. RDubbs says:

    Tough choice here but got to go with Yo La Tengo because, well it’s YO LA TENGO!

  2. Arnold Plotnick says:

    Having actually visited Estonia (seriously), I was partial to Jaak Joala’s version, however, when push comes to shove, the punkest version usually gets my vote. As it did here. I’d love a Latvian version, next time ’round.

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