♫ If You Leave Me Now ♫

Chicago’s bass player Peter Cetera wrote this and sang lead. Cetera specialized in ballads, adding variety to the band’s sound which featured many more rock-oriented songs.

Released in July 1976, the song topped the US charts on October 23, 1976, and stayed there for two weeks, making it the first number one hit for the group as well as hitting number one on the Easy Listening charts. If You Leave Me Now was also Chicago’s biggest hit internationally, topping the charts in other countries such as the UK, Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Netherlands.

In 2010 Chicago teamed with the American Cancer Society and offered the opportunity to bid on the chance to sing their hit, If You Leave Me Now with them on stage live at their concerts, with proceeds going to the American Cancer Society to fight breast cancer.

Considering their longevity and success, it’s surprising how Chicago has been spurned by both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Grammys. The band’s only Grammy award came for this song, when it won for Best Pop Vocal Performance By a Duo, Group or Chorus.

The song also won the award for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s), which went to James William Guercio and Jimmie Haskell.

If You Leave Me Now

If you leave me now, you’ll take away the biggest part of me
No baby please don’t go
If you leave me now, you’ll take away the very heart of me
No baby please don’t go

A love like ours is love that’s hard to find
How could we let it slip away
We’ve come too far to leave it all behind
How could we end it all this way
When tomorrow comes we’ll both regret
Things we said today

‘Cause I need you more than you’ll ever know

Publisher: Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, Spirit Music Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

♫ Evergreen ♫

This song about new love was the theme to the 1976 remake of A Star Is Born. The film, which starred Streisand, was very popular and this song won the Academy Award for Best Song.  I knew I was in the mood to play some Streisand tonight, but I couldn’t decide between this one and Memories.

Paul Williams, who had written hits for the Carpenters and Three Dog Night, wrote this with Streisand. The songs for A Star Is Born had to be written before filming began, since they were performed on camera. When Williams signed on to the project, Streisand had the music and one verse for the song “Everything.” Over the next seven weeks, they wrote all the songs for the movie.  According to Paul Williams …

Paul-Williams“She sat down and played on a guitar, the melody for ‘Evergreen’ that she’d written. It was just such a beautiful melody. I said, ‘There’s your love song. There’s the big love song.’ I asked her for the melody. She put it on tape for me, and I took it home. I actually wrote that as the last thing, which I think bothered her. But all the Kris Kristofferson stuff was the first thing up on the shoot schedule. So I wrote the songs for Kris first.

You know, Barbra recorded two or three of my songs before we did A Star Is Born. People would always ask, ‘Were you nervous about writing the Streisand music?’ Of course, she’s an amazing talent. But to sit down and write songs and to play songs for Kris… I mean, this is the man who wrote ‘Sunday Morning Coming Down,’ ‘Me And Bobby McGee.’ It was wonderful. Kris was great about the songs. But the very last thing that I wrote was ‘Evergreen.’ I gave that to Barbra, and then hit the road and didn’t look back.

I actually wrote those first two lines in the opposite order. I wrote ‘Love, fresh as the morning air, love soft as an easy chair.’ I called Barbra as I was getting on a plane to go on tour with Olivia Newton-John. We were doing a 6-week tour, and Barbra was in Arizona getting ready to start filming A Star Is Born. I called her and said, ‘You know what, flip those two first lines, because it sings better.’ ‘Love, soft as an easy chair, love, fresh as the morning air.’ ‘Morning’ sang better at that point in the song. And I remember saying to Barbra, ‘They’ll probably laugh us out of the theaters for starting a love song with a line about a chair, but I think it works better that way.’ And I think it was the biggest-selling soundtrack album ever at that time, and of course the song won the triple crown: the Oscar, the Grammy, and the Golden Globe.”

Barbra Streisand

Love soft as an easy chair
Love fresh as the morning air
One love that is shared by two
I have found with you
Like a rose under the April snow
I was always certain love would grow
Love ageless and evergreen
Seldom seen by two
You and I will
Make each night the first
Everyday a beginning
Spirits rise and their dance is unrehearsed
They warm and excite us
‘Cause we have the brightest love
Two lights that shine as one
Morning glory and midnight sun
Time, we’ve learned to sail above
Time, won’t change the meaning of one love
Ageless and ever, evergreen

Songwriters: Barbra Streisand; Paul Williams
Evergreen lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

♫ Don’t Know Much ♫

The husband-and-wife songwriting team of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil wrote this with Tom Snow, who is known for his work on music for movies such as Footloose.  The song first appeared on Mann’s self-titled album in 1980. Bill Medley recorded it in 1981, and Bette Midler released a version called “All I Need To Know” in 1983. But the version that stands above the crowd is this one, a duet with Linda Ronstadt and Aaron Neville.

Ronstadt and Neville met at the 1984 World’s Fair when both were performing there and realized their mutual admiration. When they decided to work together, they picked this song, which was brought to their attention by producer Steve Tyrell.  This won a Grammy for Best Vocal Performance by a Pop Group or Duo. Ronstadt and Neville would team up for another Grammy-winning song, “All My Life,” which earned the same prize in 1990.

Neville and Ronstadt portray in the song’s music video a couple still in love in their middle age. Neville told Mojo magazine February 2013 that despite the rumors, he and Ronstadt were no more than friends. He said: “The guy who directed called us in a room and said, ‘Look – if y’all ain’t gonna make this thing believable, there ain’t no sense in doin’ it.’ Linda’s a pretty woman – it wasn’t hard to portray that. But they had all kinda stupid rumors out. None of ’em were true ‘cos we’re friends. We respected each other. But I look at the video and it looks kinda suspect (laughs).”

Don’t Know Much
Linda Ronstadt, Aaron Neville

Look at this face I know the years are showing
Look at this life I still don’t know where it’s going

I don’t know much but I know I love you
That may be all I need to know

Look at these eyes they never seen what matters
Look at these dreams so beaten and so battered

I don’t know much but I know I love you
That may be all I need to know

So many questions still left unanswered
So much I’ve never broken through
And when I feel you near me, sometimes I see so clearly
That only truth I’ll never know is me and you

Look at this man so blessed with inspiration
Look at this soul still searching for salvation

I don’t know much but I know I love you
That may be all I need to know

I don’t know much but I know I love you
That may be all I need to know

I don’t know much but I know I love you
That may be all there is to know

Songwriters: Tom Snow / Cynthia Weil / Barry Mann
Don’t Know Much lyrics © Karen Schauben Publishing Administration

♫ Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday ♫

It would be difficult to choose a single favourite musician, but if you held my feet to the fire, it would most likely be Stevie Wonder.  Just watching this man perform gives me chills, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard music by him that I did not like.  Not too long ago I did a post with one of my absolute favourites pairing Stevie Wonder with Paul McCartney in Ebony and Ivory — one that I am likely to repeat from time-to-time, for the meaning of the song should never be forgotten.

Blind since birth, Stevie Wonder was considered a child prodigy and signed with Motown at age 11.  He has recorded more than 30 U.S. top ten hits and received 25 Grammy Awards, one of the most-awarded male solo artists.  He is also noted for his work as an activist for political causes, including his 1980 campaign to make Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday a holiday in the United States. In 2009, Wonder was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace.

This song, Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday, was released in 1969.  It reached #7 on the pop singles chart and become Wonder’s ninth Top 10 single of the 1960s. The single fared even better on the UK singles chart where it reached #2 in November 1969, and at that time, it was Wonder’s biggest UK hit.

Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday
Stevie Wonder

What happened to the world we knew
When we would dream and scheme
And while the time away

Yester-me yester-you yesterday
Where did it go that yester glow
When we could feel

The wheel of life turn our way
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
I had a dream so did you life
Was warm and love was true
Two kids who followed all the rules
Yester fools and now
Now it seems those yester dreams
Were just a cruel

And foolish game we used to play
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
When I recall what we had
I feel lost I feel sad with nothing but
The memory of yester love and now
Now it seems those yester dreams
Were just a cruel

And foolish game we had to play
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
Sing with me
Yester-me yester-you yesterday
One more time

Songwriters: Bryan Wells / Ronald Miller / Ronald N. Miller
Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC