If You Leave Me Now
Writer(s): Peter Cetera (see lyrics here)
Released: July 30, 1976
First Charted: August 6, 1976
Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 15 GR, 12 HR, 13 RR, 11 AC, 1 CL, 13 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.8 UK
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 63.4 video, 250.72 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
Chicago formed in the city of the same name in 1967. Their jazz-inflected rock made them somewhat oblivious to genre trends and proved to be a hit-making formula as well. From 1969 to 1975 they landed eleven songs in the top 10 and were sitting on five consecutive #1 albums when Chicago X was released. While that album missed the top slot, peaking at #3, it continued the group’s perfect record of platinum albums and gave the band something they’d never had before – a #1 song.
“If You Leave Me Now” is “a breezy ballad about attempting to stave off a breakup.” SG It’s written and sung by Peter Cetera, who “sings the hell out of the song, hitting inverted-eyebrow blue-eyed-soul sincerity notes all over the place.” SG He “sells the wounded sadness of the song’s sentiment” SG backed by “a slow horn riff, some acoustic-guitar flourishes, [and] a sad-bastard string section.” SG The Guardian said the song “impossibly lush and beautifully written, but its sadness is pervasive and affecting.” WK Stereogum’s Tom Breihan, however, suggests that it “is soft and gooey enough that it never even sounds like a possible-breakup song. Instead, it comes off as a simple love song, a prom slow-dance kind of thing.” SG
The other band members weren’t overjoyed about how “that one huge ballad begat more huge ballads — most of them from Peter Cetera.” SG Prior to that, the band had more of a collective. Keyboardist Robert Lamm said, “If somebody is obviously egoing out, there’s six of ous to deal with and we’ll get together and give him a knuckle sandwich.” FB
However, Cetera’s role was becoming more prominent. Lamm had written and sung some of the band’s best known songs such as “Saturday in the Park,” “25 or 6 to 4,” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” Trombonist James Pankow wrote “Make Me Smile,” on which guitarist Terry Kath sang lead. Although Pankow and trumpeter Lee Loungnane had penned the band’s last four top-10 hits, it was Cetera who took the lead on vocals.
First posted 12/27/2022.