It’s Music Monday, and well, the feeling is as clear as a blue sky on a Sunday day.
Of course, it isn’t Sunday. But at least it is sunny.
We’ve got that.
Hear me out. Yes, this week is about a Chicago song. I’ve got Halloween songs in the pipeline for the end of the month, but this song has been stuck in my head!
I think that was the excuse all of these other times:
As we begin the month of pumpkins, red, yellow, and brown leaves, and trick or treat, I could easily have dug around for a Halloween song. I devoted all last October to Halloween, and at the risk of beating it to death the way I beat Christmas to death last year (and will again this year), I’m veering away from all Halloween in favor of, well, only celebrating the week of.
However, today’s music choice was written by an October baby (one of two in Chicago), so we’re good.
In 1974, trumpeter/Flugelhorn/occasional backup and lead vocalist Lee Loughnane hit…a rough patch. That’s a nice way of saying his marriage was ending. So, what happens when the musically inclined among us are hitting a rough patch in their marriage? They write a song. It worked for James Pankow and his girlfriend (“Just You ‘n Me”), but unfortunately, like Kenny Loggins and his song “The Real Thing,” Loughnane and his marriage were over. However, he wanted to remain friends with this ex-wife (when do we ever stay friends with the ones we part company with?), something he says didn’t stick.
But the song did, because the group still performs it to this day. It’s changed vocals a few times, but it still remains on their set list.
“Call On Me” was performed by Chicago as part of their 1974 album Chicago VII. For Lee Loughnane, he had never had a songwriting credit to his name (unlike the rest of the group), and looked to change that. Since events spawn inspiration (I’m not quite on that level in terms of depth, but some of my Retroist articles are the result of inspiration), he approached the group timidly about this song.
I don’t think he had anything to worry about, as you’ll find when you click play.
The result was a #1 hit on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart, #6 on the Hot 100 (#98 for year ending 1974), and earned Lee Loughnane his first songwriting credit (with help from Peter Cetera). It was released in June 1974, after “(I’ve Been) Searchin’ So Long,” (February 1974) and before “Wishing You Were Here” (October 1974). Chicago VII was also notable for being the group’s final studio release to be a double album.
Over the years, Peter Cetera and Jason Scheff have provided the lead vocals for “Call on Me,” with Loughnane providing backup vocals, along with Robert Lamm and the late Terry Kath – later provided by Bill Champlain and Lou Pardini.
Perhaps it is a good idea that Lee didn’t do lead vocals. I saw the Chicago documentary, and we know he’s a bit of an emotional guy.
Oh, and there is a great live version of this from their 2005 concert with Earth Wind and Fire (this was during their set). It mixes right into their 1978 “Alive Again” (from Hot Streets), which was their first hit after the death of Terry Kath.
So, end of relationship meets the beginning of a new one….
You can count on me to not only tell you about the song, but deliver the good clips, am I right?
I’m ambitious in my thinking. Just confirm it and I’ll keep bringing you my best.
You can call on me – and count on me – for that!
Have a great Music Monday, and enjoy the music!