From The Archives: No Explanation – A Peter Cetera playlist [2013-01-30]

I don’t know how I found Peter Cetera.

Before 2010, I didn’t really pay much attention to the music I listened to. One day, Karl Wolf comes on the radio singing his song Ghetto Love, and someone commented that it was a rip-off of Peter Cetera’s Glory of Love. I thought it sounded familiar, but I couldn’t think of the song until he said it. Karl Wolf “heavily sampled” from the chorus of Glory of Love. As I say it, he “stole the chorus, changed a few words here and there, and added rap lyrics”. I hate it! Why did he have to do that? Anyway, enough of that.

I didn’t find Peter Cetera on my own. I already owned his album You’re The Inspiration: A Collection, which is mostly a compilation of his duets over the years. I also had Glory of Love, which was the theme song for the movie The Karate Kid, Part II.

Peter Cetera used to be the bassist and lead singer for the band Chicago. By 1985, Chicago had gained huge success and toured heavily. Peter Cetera wanted to settle down a little more and spend some time with his family, and to produce more solo albums*, but they couldn’t come to an agreement and mutually parted.
* In 1981, Peter Cetera released his first solo album, the self-titled Peter Cetera, released under the Warner Bros. label. It was more rock-oriented than what Chicago was producing at the time. It wasn’t a huge success, and speculation has it that it had something to do with Warner Bros. not wanting Cetera to leave Chicago, with whom they were also signed.

Peter Cetera

Another trademark of Peter Cetera is his unique singing style. I quote

During a break in the touring in the summer of 1969, Peter Cetera was set upon at a baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. “Four marines didn’t like a long-haired rock ‘n’ roller in a baseball park,” Cetera recounts, “and of course I was a Cub fan, and I was in Dodger Stadium, and that didn’t do so well. I got in a fight and got a broken jaw in three places, and I was in intensive care for a couple of days.” The incident had an effect on Cetera’s career and an impact on his singing style. “The only funny thing I can think about the whole incident,” he says, “is that, with my jaw wired together, I actually went on the road, and I was actually singing through my clenched jaw, which, to this day, is still the way I sing.”

I think it adds a greater sense of passion and energy by sounding restrained, but controlled. It’s unique and it really makes his songs his.

May I remind you of the notes for playlists.
Since this is the first playlist I’ve posted, I’ll state them here:

  • Listen to the tracks in order (painfully obvious, but someone has already managed to fail here).
  • Listen to each song until at least the end of its first chorus. You don’t give the song a fair chance unless you allow it to climax.
  • It is recommended that you follow any listening advice that may be given before the playlist.
  • All links in the post will open in a new tab/window to prevent disrupting any currently-playing videos.

Listening advice:
For Peter Cetera, I suggest listening to the song overall, with all the layered parts as a whole.

This playlist features his solo works.

Let’s begin.

Track list:

  1. If You Leave Me Now
  2. The End of Camelot
  3. I Wasn’t the One (Who Said Goodbye)
  4. Faithfully
  5. Glory of Love
  6. (I Wanna Take) Forever Tonight
  7. Happy Man
  8. Have You Ever Been In Love
  9. One Clear Voice
  10. After All
  11. You’re the Inspiration
  12. One Good Woman
  13. S.O.S.
  14. Baby, What a Big Surprise
  15. World Falling Down

  1. If You Leave Me Now [New Version] (1997)
      —Chicago version (1976)
    It’s kind of traditional to open with If You Leave Me Now. At least, that’s what he used to open his album You’re The Inspiration: A Collection. In a 2004 interview, he said that it is one of his special songs.

  1. The End of Camelot (1995)
    This is the opening track for his album One Clear Voice, and a good choice, if I may say. It has a very sudden opening and a high level of energy.

  2. I Wasn’t the One (Who Said Goodbye) (1987)
    An amazing duet with former ABBA member Agnetha Fältskog. Peter Cetera doesn’t appear in the music video. They also recorded a Spanish version, which was released on his Japan-only album Stay With Me.

  3. Faithfully (1995)
    A beautiful and passionate song! Quite well-layered, too. Listen to the subtleties and just let yourself get carried away….
    Update: A friend and I recently analyzed the lyrics of this song. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s beautifully constructed and well thought-out! We were amazed at how everything just connected with how every part of the song connected with the other parts, and how the metaphors and themes established in the beginning were carried through until the end poem very effectively.

  4. Glory of Love (1986)
    My all-time favourite song! It is the theme from The Karate Kid, Part II.

    Edit: I’m not sure how I neglected to mention this: I once listened to this song for 99 days straight, listening to it at least once a day. If you ask, I’ll tell you why.

  5. (I Wanna Take) Forever Tonight (1995)
    A beautiful and breathtaking duet with actress Crystal Bernard, who made her singing debut in this song. Their voices really complement each other and give this song a unique “oneness”.

    * Of course, there’s always the songwriter’s version. I’ll give it to the guy for writing the song, but Eric Carmen doesn’t come anywhere close to the duet.

  6. Happy Man [New Version] (1995)
      —Chicago version (1974)
    This is the first of four Chicago songs that Peter Cetera re-recorded in his solo career. The solo version is significantly different from the Chicago version, and I grew to appreciate it after listening to how he played with the subtle elements. The two versions seem to approach the best interpretation, but there’s something missing in each that makes them just miss it. It’s a good song, nonetheless.

  7. Have You Ever Been In Love (1992)
    A very moving song! This is from his album World Falling Down. This song isn’t one that you can just listen to whenever: you have to be in the right mood, and your surroundings are best quiet. You’ll know what I mean when you listen to it. Consequently, don’t judge this song based on your first hearing.
    I think this cover (if you could even tell) is better than Leo Sayer’s original, but perhaps that’s just my bias.

  8. One Clear Voice (1995)
    The title track of his album One Clear Voice. I find this quite nice to listen to in the rare times that I’m stressed.

  9. After All (1989)
    This is a duet with Cher, featured in the movie “Chances Are”. The interesting thing about this song is that Cher and Cetera have never sung this song together, not even live: they recorded the song separately.

  10. You’re the Inspiration (1997)
      —Chicago version (1984)
    A classic Foster-Chicago tune! I think the solo version has a warmer feel to it, but the Chicago version is just as good.
    It’s too bad there aren’t any horns in the original (Chicago is known for their use of horns), and Danny Seraphine, Chicago’s then-regular drummer, didn’t play in it because he was away and they didn’t wait for him to come back.
    Peter Cetera also recorded a version with Az Yet, but I think this was unnecessary.

  11. One Good Woman (1988)
    One of Peter Cetera’s more upbeat songs. A lot of energy is packed in to this one, with some nice work on the drums. The music video really shows how Peter Cetera sings with a clenched mouth.

  12. S.O.S. (1995)
    A cover of an ABBA original, with Ronna Reeves. I’d say it’s a respectable cover, but it’s certainly less ’70s-like, complete with that Peter Cetera touch.

  13. Baby, What a Big Surprise (1997)
      —Chicago version (1977)
    A nice and easy song to just sit back and listen to.

  14. World Falling Down (1992)
    My newest Peter Cetera song as of this post. It’s quite memorable. This is the title track of his 1992 album World Falling Down.

    * Original recipients of this playlist may notice that I originally had Just Like Love (2001) as the last track of the playlist. I didn’t have World Falling Down when I sent the playlist, and I think it’s a better song to end it with.

Today’s generation may find Peter Cetera and music from the ’90s and earlier a bit of an acquired taste, but once it’s acquired, you won’t want to go back.
I’ve got lots more where that came from; I have a total of 52 songs from his solo career (as of this post).
I’ve got to say: Peter Cetera is my absolute favourite music artist!

Appendix A: Bonus tracks

  1. Livin’ In The Limelight (1981)
    Peter Cetera’s first single as a solo artist. The album itself wasn’t a huge success, and it’s speculated that it’s because Warner Bros. was afraid that Cetera would leave Chicago if he became “big”.

  2. Stay With Me (1987)
    Another track from Peter Cetera’s Japan-only album Stay With Me. This was featured in the movie Princess From The Moon.

  3. Hold Me Till The Morning Comes (1983)
    I’d call this more of Paul Anka’s song, but this is a Paul Anka/Peter Cetera duet. Again, released on Stay With Me.

  4. Love Assistant (1984)
    A duet with Japanese singer Kawai Naoko (河合 奈保子), released on (guess where?) Stay With Me. Funny, this is one song that I haven’t gotten.

  5. No Explanation (1990)
    I can’t really leave off the song that the playlist is named after, now can I? This was part of the soundtrack for the movie Pretty Woman.


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