About The Song
The band’s lead singer, Peter Cetera and Foster got together an wrote Hard To Say I’m Sorry, a song initially required for a film as Chicago’s trumpeter, Lee Loughnane recalled, “The film was in the process of being created when we presented the song to them.” The film was called Summer Lovers a story of a three-way love affair between one man and two women in the Greek Isles. It bombed.
The film may have flopped but the track didn’t. Typical of a David Foster composition, this song has little in the way of verse but seemingly two choruses. There’s the, ‘Hold me now, it’s hard for me to say I’m sorry’ section as well as the, ‘After all that we’ve been through, I will make it up to you’.
The premise of the song tells of the protagonist trying, in typical fashion, to hold on to a crumbling relationship caused by his indiscretions and then pleading with her to believe, ‘all that we once had’ type of saga. Simple answer, don’t play around. but if he didn’t there wouldn’t be a good song to write about. If you think the theme is familiar, you’re right. Think back three years prior, does the lyric, ‘Somethin’ happened along the way, what used to be happy was sad’ ring a bell? Yes? Well it should. It’s from a song with a similar story by Earth Wind and Fire called After the Love As Gone. Guess who co-wrote that? Yep, David Foster.
Foster, as good as he was, did upset some members of the band. Remember, these guys had played all their own jazz-fusion-rock music for nearly 15 years, but Foster decided to bring in three of his own musicians to play on this track, namely the Toto A-team – guitarist Steve Lukather, keyboard players David Paich and Steve Porcaro, but Foster knew exactly what sound he wanted and got it.
Hard to Say I’m Sorry went to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and the AOR chart too. It also topped the charts in Italy, Ireland, Canada and Switzerland, in the UK it peaked at number four.
A couple of years later the band achieved their final UK top 10 hit with the similar tempo-ed Hard Habit to Break. Within a year, Cetera left for a solo career and had a big hit from another movie, this time from Karate Kid II and the song The Glory of Love went to number three in the UK. Cetera’s final chart appearance came in 1997 when the American R&B group AZ Yet did a cover version of Hard To Say I’m Sorry and invited Cetera to sing a couple of lines and thus was credited as AZ Yet featuring Peter Cetera. Just to enhance and ensure its success it was remixed by David Foster.
The single version runs to three- and three-quarter minutes but the album version features an added horn section outro which was separately titled Get Away and composed by long-time band member Robert Lamm and last just over five minutes.