Song: "Hard to Say I'm Sorry"
Writers: Peter Cetera and David Foster
Original Release: May 17, 1982
Album: Chicago 16 (lead single)
1982 was an important year in my musical journey. That was the summer I first learned about Top 40 radio, listening to DC's Q107 with my older sister. My sister still loves to tell the story of the time that summer when I asked our mother if she thought I was old enough to listen to rock 'n' roll. I don't remember the answer but she didn't stop me so I guess it was okay.
As a result, the songs that were popular in 1982 hold a special place in my musical heart: "Eye of the Tiger" by Survivor, "Don't Talk to Strangers" by Rick Springfield, "Hurts So Good" by John Cougar (born Mellencamp), "Ebony and Ivory" by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder, "Africa" by Toto and on and on. No song pulls at those particular heartstrings quite like Chicago's "Hard to Say I'm Sorry."
The song was a major comeback hit for the band and it marked the culmination of a gradual departure from the horn-driven, jazzy sound Chicago had championed through the 1970s. At the time, many critics had judged the band as one whose time had passed. The transition to an electronic emphasis had been rough. "Hard to Say I'm Sorry", which soared to #1 on the Billboard charts and camped out in the top five for twelve weeks, was their first top 50 hit in four years. The song kicked off a new, highly lucrative era for Chicago. The band is still active today and, thank goodness, they never gave up the horns completely.
In 1996, the R&B group Az Yet released an excellent and commercially successful cover:
The Armchair Squid began life as a tennis blog. As such, I would be remiss if I didn't include the following, featuring (left to right) Grigor Dimitrov, Tommy Haas, Roger Federer and... a surprise guest. There is a little bit of musical cred in this video: that's David Foster himself at the piano. In addition to being the song's co-writer, he's Tommy Haas's father-in-law.