For a while, to love was all we could do. We were young and we knew, and our eyes were alive. Deep inside we knew our love was true.
…but, something happened along the way.
The Month of Musical Love continues on, with a ballad about love and loss, sung by a group named for the elements and known for their equal balance of love and loss songs. This one just happens to cover both aspects.
“After the Love Has Gone” is a single by Earth Wind and Fire, from their 1979 album I Am, which also includes one of my personal favorite EWF songs, “In The Stone,” one of their other love songs. Written by David Foster, Jay Graydon, and Bill Champlin, the song’s origins date back to a time when Foster was working on an album with Motown Records singer Jaye P. Morgan. That album was released in Japan and failed to catch on in the United States.
Undeterred by this, Foster went to Motown Records to present some his material. In the middle of a song, he ad-libbed the chorus for this song, having forgotten the words. David Foster, with the help of Jay Graydon and Bill Champlin, wrote lyrics after Graydon had come up with an idea for the verse. Foster had been producing Champlin’s debut Single, while working with Earth Wind and Fire on I Am. Foster showed EWF lead vocalist and founder Maurice White the song, who loved it and wanted to record it. Consequently, the song was pulled from Champlin’s album in favor of Earth Wind and Fire recording it. Champlin agreed to this change, as he would get the chance to record it.
Oh, and the song was even offered to Hall and Oates, who turned it down, as they were not interested in singing songs they didn’t write themselves.
Don’t weep for them, it didn’t hurt their careers in the least.
But I’m not gonna lie, I’m sitting here writing this, and I’m trying to picture Hall and Oates singing this song. That could have been interesting.
While the EWF version is the one most commonly known, the original recording was done by Foster and Graydon’s collaboration, a band called Airplay. It was released in 1980, after EWF’s version. The collaboration was short-lived, with a self-titled album in 1980 and an unfinished album that was set for a 1981 release. Their end came when Graydon didn’t want to tour.
But don’t weep for him either, the collaborations he’s had since that gaffe have positively overshadowed the short-lived Airplay. Heck, his guitar solo on the 1977 Steely Dan song “Peg” is more memorable than Airplay.
Earth Wind and Fire took “After the Love Has Gone” to the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot R&B Single Charts, reaching #2 (#38 year-ending 1979), behind The Knack’s “My Sharona” on the former, as well as #3 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary Chart.
I watched a few different version of this recording, and came across the one featured on Live in Japan, a concert video recorded at the Tokyo Dome during the band’s Heritage Tour in 1990. After watching this performance, as well as a 1979 concert recording, it was this one that resonated with me. I hope it does the same for you.
Verdine White, Maurice White’s younger brother, and one of the group’s founding members, said during the initial recording, the song was based on a vibe, and took Maurice White six or seven cuts to get it right. But, when it was right, it was classic Earth Wind and Fire. The song is a staple of their concerts, now performed by co-founding member Philip Bailey, as Maurice White retired from singing due to his Parkinson’s diagnosis; he passed away in early 2016.
“After the Love Has Gone” has been featured as the “game loss” song at Chicago White Sox, Charlotte Hornets, and Philadelphia Phillies games, which just seems really depressing. And here I was, thinking the New York Yankees using Liza Minelli’s version of “New York, New York” when they lose was depressing!
When I saw Chicago and Earth Wind and Fire in concert in 2015, I had no idea this was an Earth Wind and Fire song. The version on my old iPod had a was actually sung by Bill Champlin, a version released a few years before he joined Chicago in 1981.
This is a live recording from the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles in 2004, during the very first Chicago/Earth Wind and Fire tour. Then-Chicago vocalist Bill Champlin joined EWF on stage to perform lead vocals.
As for his career post-writing this song, he joined Chicago 1981, and stayed until 2009. He’s pretty open about his time with the group (in my own words, those times weren’t sunshine and rainbows, but he had quite the career with them. His contributions were numerous and memorable, and he’s still active in the industry.
I should note that during Chicago’s set in the 2004 concert, Philip Bailey sang lead vocals on a Chicago standard about love and loss.
Which one, you ask?
You’ll just have to wait until the next Music Monday.
Have a great Monday, and enjoy the music!