My 30-day Peter Cetera Challenge - Day 1 - Beginnings

Some of you may be thinking that, on the surface, this challenge seems a little weird.  So let's begin by explaining why Peter Cetera is worthy of it.

First, he was an original member of one the best rock bands in history - Chicago. He's a tremendous bass player.  He's got an instantly-recognizable, indelible voice.  He's a fine songwriter. He's still performing after nearly 50 years in the music biz, 30+ years of it solo.  If we talked about his looks, we'd be here until Labor Day. (Yeah, I know it's vacuous, but he's always been one good-lookin' dude. Eyes for days.)

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It's true. I have eyes!

I come by my love of Chicago and Cetera organically.  In 1971, I was a high-school freshman, a musical kid.  I was in chorus and both stage band (1st section, 2nd-chair trumpet, baby!) and jazz band.  And let me tell you, any band-nerd in '71 was into Chicago.  Their first four studio albums were ground-breaking, and I and my band buds played and sang the songs within, over and over again.

Chicago had it all.  Great songwriting.  Bright, stabbing horn arrangements. Three strong, yet totally different singers who also harmonized well.  A kick-ass rhythm section.  Jazzy, yet soulful keyboards.

And they had Terry Kath.  Kath the Great, now the Legend.  The Hendrixian guitar genius, whose 1978 accidental self-inflicted gunshot death cut the hearts out of not just the band, but fans alike.  It was a horrible thing, from which Chicago - and Terry's myriad fans - never fully recovered.

The boys slogged on in the changing musical world of the late 70's and early 80's, devoid of their Kath-soul and struggling to remain relevant. (There even was a foray into disco (!) with the song Street Player from Chicago 13, which we'll revisit down the line - believe it or not, it's a great song!)

Eventually, they turned to ballads as their mainstay, showcasing Cetera, and thus reentered Hitland.  But they really had hit a wall of no-return (at least to hard-rock) when Kath died; after some unfortunate acrimony, Cetera left for solo flight in the mid-80's.

For hard-core Chicago/Kath freaks, Cetera's a solo artist easy to write off as lightweight - until you REALLY listen to his post-Chicago work, without prejudice. Sure, not all are home-runs, but for the most part, the lyrics, the melodies, the orchestration, and of course, that cool, clear voice are pretty damned fine.  The work has much to recommend it, if you give it a chance.

So yes, Cetera's solo work - yes, mostly ballads - has merit.  We all change, evolve - musicians included.  Sure, he's been criticized for selling out, but it's really just survival.  Don't most of us strive for the same - to forge a long livelihood the way we best-decide - hopefully, at something we enjoy doing?

If anyone - woman OR man - isn't moved by a song like "Have You Ever Been In Love?", then you really need a kick in the romance-pants. 

Challenge-worthy, indeed.  Viva Cetera, and onto tomorrow!


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Cetera say, "Come orbit Planet Michelle!  Ooo-oo-ooo!  If you know what's good for you! Oooo! Just type your e-mail in, and give my girl a spin! Ooo-ooo mama!  It's a win-win!"  Can't argue wid dat, mah babies!  So do like Cetera say!  No spam-ola; opt out at will (but why, baby?)

(Or e-mail me old-school: planetMichelle4u@gmail.com

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    Only the beginning.

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    In reply to Howard Moore:

    ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!! "Of what I want to feel forever.........Only just the start!!!!" Michelle's a hit in my book!! :)

  • In reply to Debbie Dolan:

    Thanks, Debbie! You've caught onto my trick! Hope you enjoy the month. I'm already wet with flop-sweat, wondering if I made a Big Mistake! (If you haven't yet, why don't you subscribe? I promise to fight for your honor, OOPS, I mean, make it a fun 30 days!)

  • In reply to Howard Moore:

    (I thought of trying The Donald Fagen 30-Day, but that was REALLY daunting! I figure he'd have a restraining order by about Day 3.)

  • I love this because as a classic rock fan you put Chicago's work into perspective and their induction into the Hall of Fame was loooong overdue. But I have to say, I am a bit conflicted when it comes to Peter Cetera. As far as analogies go, he is to Chicago as Michael McDonald is to the Doobie Brothers. Most of his late 80s solo stuff makes me cringe - "Power of Love" I can tolerate but that Cher duet, ugh! But there is one, do I dare say, fairly rocking solo song from the early 80s, "Livin' In the Limelight". I think it charted but it's pretty obscure compared to the stuff that came later which is too bad.

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