Illinois ballads

Songs in the key of strife

Time for me to drive?

About the only thing that our new state tourism song has going for it is that it was inspired by a band from Illinois. Otherwise, JB would have us eschew public transportation, pile into carbon-spewing cars and roam the Land of Lincoln in search of fun.

I'm not sure how much we paid, if anything, for rights to the REO Speedwagon song, but it is too much. Replacing the word "fly" with "drive" isn't fooling anyone who recalls the 1979 original that appeared on the landmark album You Can Tune A Piano But You Can't Tuna Fish:

I've had enough of the falseness
Of a worn out relation
Enough of the jealousy
And the intoleration

Really, it's a song about the General Assembly, not carefree days spent visiting the likes of Galena. There are other bands from Illinois. We can do better, Head East notwithstanding: Save my life, I'm going down for the last time isn't the vibe we want.

How about "Saturday in the Park?" Possibilities are endless. We could change "park" to "car" and keep the video, or we could change "park" to "bar" with footage of maskless – finally – folks doing what folks do at the Ceres Café, Butternut Hut or nearest VFW. Or we could just keep the song the way it is, accompanied by images of Wrigley Field, Starved Rock State Park, Cahokia Mounds and Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Fish and Wildlife Area.

Instead of a band from Champaign, we should steal from a Rockford ensemble and rejigger "Surrender:"

Morton's all right
Cairo's all right
They just seem a little weird

Beauty is, there's hardly a town that you couldn't plug right in – even New Berlin would work. Imagine a statewide contest with community boosters producing videos and popping pride for an ever-changing commercial that would feature different burgs every couple weeks, with a grand prize winner joining Cheap Trick on stage at the state fair. Woo hoo!!!

Apologies to Earth, Wind and Fire:

When you trip within a car
It can take you very far
But if you drive within your means
Illinois fulfills your dreams

Less danceable, there is Styx – you wouldn't have to change a word, just run footage of scenic byways, ball games and Lollapalooza along with Renoirs and Van Goghs installed at the Chicago Art Institute:

Welcome to the grand illusion,
Come on in and see what's happening,
Pay the price, get your tickets for the show

I'll take Earth, Wind and Fire, hold the REO, and schedule Cheap Trick for the fair.

SPEAKING OF GRAND ILLUSIONS, here is what deputy governor Christian Mitchell told the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee last month, when senators demanded unredacted copies of a report on Exelon finances that the governor is using to justify $355 million in subsidies for two nuclear plants.

"I've got a number for a senior VP with Exelon right here on my phone, I can text it to any one of you to make a call to her right now," Mitchell testified. "And I will walk upstairs to my office, take the confidential copy of the report that I have, run off copies and bring them to people down here. The governor fully supports releasing this report unredacted to the public and to this committee, as soon as right now. You just let us know."

Here is what Pritzker spokesperson Jordan "That Was Then This is Now" Abudayyeh told me last week when I asked for a copy.

"We are not authorized to release the unredacted version of the report," Abudayyeh wrote in an email. "Exelon required the parties involved to sign an NDA to protect trade secrets. If they release everyone from the NDA we have no problem sharing the report. This has been discussed at length during committee hearings." A few hours later, an update arrived. "Exelon has agreed to release the state from the privacy agreement they insisted on previously," Abudayyeh wrote. Attached was a less-redacted-but-still-redacted report with excisions necessary, Abudayyeh explained, to protect Exelon's bidding strategy for an upcoming power supply auction: "Once that auction takes place, we'll unredact that information as well."

As the legislative session ticktocks to a close, people behind closed doors ponder our energy future with hundreds of millions of dollars on the table for Exelon, a company that seems ever in the driver's seat, daring us to let go. Maybe we should.

I make you laugh
And you make me cry
I believe it's time for me to fly

REO Speedwagon fans may contact Bruce Rushton at

About The Author

Bruce Rushton

Bruce Rushton is a freelance journalist.

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