“Saturday in the Park” is a song written by Robert Lamm and recorded by the group Chicago for their 1972 album Chicago V, with Lamm on piano and lead vocals and Peter Cetera on bass and backing vocals. The single version hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the band’s highest-charting single to date and helping lift the album to #1 on the charts. The single was certified Gold by the RIAA.
According to fellow Chicago member Walter Parazaider, Lamm was inspired to write the song during the recording of V in New York City on July 4, 1971:
“Robert came back to the hotel from Central Park very excited after seeing the steel drum players, singers, dancers, and jugglers. I said, ‘Man, it’s time to put music to this!'”
The line “singing Italian songs” is followed by “Eh Cumpari” and then Italian-sounding nonsense words, in the studio version of the song, rendered in the printed lyrics as “?”. Piano/guitar/vocal sheet music arrangements have often read “improvised Italian lyrics” in parentheses after this line. However, in a film of Chicago performing “Saturday in the Park,” at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago, in 1973, Robert Lamm clearly sings, “Eh Cumpari, ci vo sunari,” the first line of a song known as “Eh, Cumpari!”, which was made famous by Julius La Rosa in 1953. “Saturday in the Park” has also been used in a popular commercial in Japan, advertising a marketing campaign known as “Parkhouse”. The song is played at Saturday afternoon baseball games at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Yankee Stadium in New York, and Coors Field in Denver. Comedian Paul F. Tompkins has called it: “the least patriotic song in popular culture.”