Chicago is looking for a dignified, official song it can call its own.
Nothing, mind you, that will conjure up images of its earthy politics or reputation as a gangster stronghold. The mayor and City Council want something more anthem-like, a sort of musical tribute to Chicago's majestic skyscrapers and growing stature as a world trade center.
They want a song that won't be embarrassing when played on ceremonial occasions that require some pomp. The breezy ditties that are usually played - ''My Kind of Town'' (made famous by Frank Sinatra) or the jazzy ''Chicago'' - are just not appropriate, officials insist.
Mayor Jane Byrne and Alderman Louis Farina say they have attended ceremonies where such up-tempo songs broke the formal mood. At an Armed Forces Week luncheon, for instance, each branch of the service was recognized by a respectable march. But when the bands broke in to ''My Kind of Town'' to recognize Chicago, Mr. Farina recalls, ''everyone felt like dancing'' rather than standing at attention.
So it is that Chicago is offering $5,000, transferred from Mayor Byrne's campaign coffers, for an official anthem. ''What we're looking for is something stately and dignified that everyone can sing,'' says Ann Rashford, contest coordinator for the mayor's Office of Special Events. She cites ''America the Beautiful'' as a model.
The city may well receive more than 1,000 entries on cassette tapes by today's (Nov. 15) deadline. Los Angeles tried for five years to get an official song but finally abandoned the search. But the Chicago judges are optimistic that somewhere in the mountain of cassettes lies a winner. For one, they say, it's easier for song writers to find words to rhyme with Chicago than with Los Angeles.