Starting their musical career in the 1960’s as a politically charged and experimental rock band, Chicago later moved to a totally different and softer sound. The band went known for their power ballads alongside the soaring voice of Peter Cetera.
A Chicago Story
Perhaps more than any other city in the United States, Chicago, located at the center of the nation, has reflected the cultural diversity that has served both as a nurturer of significant musical talent and as a magnet that drew the best from other areas. Jazzman Lionel Hampton arrived in Chicago when he was 11 years old in 1919, blues man Muddy Waters got there in 1943, when he was 28. But Benny Goodman, the King of Swing, didn’t have to travel, he was born in Chicago in 1909.
In 1967, Chicago musicians Walter Parazaider, Terry Kath, Danny Seraphine, Lee Loughnane, James Pankow, Robert Lamm, and Peter Cetera formed a group with one dream. That is to integrate all the musical diversity from their beloved city and to weave a new sound, a rock ‘n’ roll band with horns. Successfully, their dream turned into record sales topping the 100,000,000 mark, including 21 Top 10 singles, 5 consecutive Number One albums, 11 Number One singles and 5 Gold singles. An incredible 25 of their 34 albums have been certified platinum, and the band has a total of 47 gold and platinum awards.
Most recently, Chicago welcomed its new member Lou Pardini, a Grammy-nominated keyboardist who replaces Bill Champlin. Champlin left Chicago in August 2009 after a remarkable 29 years with the band, and the band wishes him all the best as he embarks on his new solo project.
Through it all, Chicago continues to be true ambassadors for their beloved hometown, carrying the city’s name with pride and dignity around the world.
‘If You Leave Me Now’
Chicago’s bass player Peter Cetera wrote the song, “If You Leave Me Now”. Cetera specialized in ballads, adding variety to the band’s sound which featured many more rock-oriented songs which are often written by Terry Kath or Robert Lamm.
Cetera’s ballads quickly became the band’s biggest hits, with “If You Leave Me Now” their most successful song to that point, topping the charts in the US and UK.
Lyrically, this is a surprisingly simple song, but it does have an unusual structure. Depending on how you look at it, there’s either no chorus, or it’s all chorus. The song opens with the title line, which is also the hook: If you leave me now, you’ll take away the biggest part of me.
And the next line gives Cetera a chance to show off his vocal range, and further makes it clear that he is full-on pleading: Ooooh no, baby please don’t go.
The title then returns, but with another consequence: If you leave me now, you’ll take away the very heart of me.
The rest of the song is Cetera making his case for why the girl shouldn’t leave, in very histrionic fashion. He wrote the words around the melody, which he composed first. Cetera is very good at composing songs that push emotional extremes. Significantly, these songs are well suited to his voice, which can reach the notes to accentuate these feelings.
As you watch the video below, I’m pretty sure memories will come rushing through your mind. Have happy reminiscence fellas.