Hard to Say I'm Sorry

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"Hard to Say I'm Sorry" is a song written by bassist Peter Cetera, who also sang lead on the track, and producer David Foster,[3] for the group Chicago. It was released on May 16, 1982, as the lead single from the album Chicago 16. The song reached No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart on September 11 of that year.[4][5] It was the group's second No. 1 single.[6] It was their first top 50 hit since "No Tell Lover" in 1978 and it spent twelve weeks in the top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[7] The single was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal,[8] and was certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in September of the same year.[9] Songwriter Cetera, a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), won an ASCAP Pop Music Award for the song in the category, Most Performed Songs.[10]

"Hard to Say I'm Sorry"
Hard To Say I´m Sorry Single cover.jpg
Artwork for Italian release
Single by Chicago
from the album Chicago 16
B-side"Sonny Think Twice"
ReleasedMay 16, 1982 (1982-05-16)
Format7" single
Length5:06 (Album Version, with "Get Away")
3:42 (Single Version)
LabelFull Moon/Warner Bros.
Producer(s)David Foster
Chicago singles chronology
"Song for You"
"Hard to Say I'm Sorry"
"Love Me Tomorrow"


The song, as well as the album on which it is featured, was a marked departure from Chicago's traditional soft rock, horn-driven sound, taking on a polished and modern feel. With minimal horns, the track instead featured more layered synthesizers and heavier distorted guitar in a contemporary 1980s styling. A second movement of the song, "Get Away", does prominently feature the Chicago horns, and it was co-written by Robert Lamm.[11]

Deviating from Chicago's practice of having mostly band members playing on their albums, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" featured several session musicians. The song featured producer David Foster on the piano, as well as three members of the American rock band Toto, including Steve Lukather on guitar and David Paich and Steve Porcaro both contributing synthesizers. The song's vocals were performed by Peter Cetera. The only other member of Chicago besides Cetera that played on the track was drummer Danny Seraphine.[citation needed]

The song was also featured as the ending theme in the movie and soundtrack for Summer Lovers,[12] a 1982 film written and directed by Randal Kleiser, starring Peter Gallagher, Daryl Hannah and Valerie Quennessen, and filmed on location on the island of Santorini, Greece.[13]

Music videoEdit

Chicago made a music video for the song. According to Cetera, the videos for "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" and "Love Me Tomorrow" were shot on the same day.[14] The band appears in a black colored room with diamonds on the wall.


Chart performanceEdit

Az Yet versionEdit

"Hard to Say I'm Sorry"
Single by Az Yet featuring Peter Cetera
from the album Az Yet
ReleasedFebruary 3, 1997 (1997-02-03)
GenreR&B, adult contemporary
LabelLaFace Records
Songwriter(s)Peter Cetera and David Foster
Az Yet featuring Peter Cetera singles chronology
"Last Night"
"Hard to Say I'm Sorry"
"You're the Inspiration"

In 1996, the R&B group Az Yet included a cover version on their self-titled debut album. The song, later released as a single on February 3, 1997, was produced by Babyface,[33] remixed by David Foster,[34] featured vocals from Peter Cetera,[34][35] and peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100.[36] The single reached platinum status[37] and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Performance by an R&B Group or Duo with Vocal.[38][39] David Foster won a BMI Pop Award for this version.[40]

Track listingEdit


  1. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" (David Foster Remix Featuring Peter Cetera) 3:18
  2. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" (Album Version) 3:14
  3. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" (Acappella) 3:14
  4. "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" (Chase Extended Mix) 5:14


Weekly charts
Chart (1997) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[41] 5
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[42] 26
Germany (Official German Charts)[43] 72
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[44] 3
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[45] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[46] 59
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[47] 7
US Billboard Hot 100[48] 8
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[49] 20
US Rhythmic (Billboard)[50] 9
Year-end charts
Chart (1997) Position
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[51] 13


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Australia (ARIA)[52] Platinum 70,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[53] Platinum 10,000*
United States (RIAA)[55] Platinum 1,100,000[54]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Other cover versionsEdit

  • In 1982, The Three Degrees covered the song on "Album of Love".[56]
  • In 2003, the Canadian boy band b4-4 recorded a cover version included as a bonus track on the "limited edition" of their second album In Your Face.[citation needed]
  • In 2007, Irish boy band Westlife covered the song on the B-side to their single "Home" from the band's seventh UK #1 album Back Home. The song charted itself without being properly released as a single.[citation needed]
  • In 2008, Barry Manilow covered the song on his album The Greatest Songs of the Eighties.
  • In 2015, country music star Tim McGraw released a "behind-the-scenes" video of him and his band performing "Hard to Say I’m Sorry" as a warm-up for his show in Chicago. At the end of the song he turns to the camera and says, "Hello, Chicago."[57]
  • After interviewing Peter Cetera while he was in Lucerne, Switzerland to perform at the Retro Festival in 2016, Swiss interviewer and musician, Phil Dankner, performed the song for Cetera.[58][59]
  • In January 2017, Roger Federer tweeted a video of him singing the song with fellow professional tennis players, Tommy Haas and Grigor Dimitrov, with David Foster at the piano, while at the Australian Open. Haas is the son-in-law of Foster.[60]


  • German Eurodance group Aquagen sampled the verses of the song (omitting the chorus) on their song with the same title, from the 2002 album Weekender.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Erlewine, Stephen Thomas. "Chicago – The Collection". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
  2. ^ Go, Justin (February 1, 2012). "Jazz-rock-fusion group Chicago reflects on a 45-year career". National Post. Retrieved 2016-01-26.
  3. ^ Chicago 16 (audio CD liner notes). Rhino Entertainment Company. 2006. R2 74090. This album was first issued as Full Moon/Warner Bros. #23689 (5/26/82)
  4. ^ "The Hot 100 - 1982 Archive | Billboard Charts Archive". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  5. ^ a b "Chicago – Awards". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2012-08-17.
  6. ^ Grein, Paul (January 19, 1985). "Chart Beat: Springsteen's 'U.S.A.' returns to the top following Purple Reign". Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 3. New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc. p. 6. Retrieved 2019-05-12.
  7. ^ https://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100/1982-08-07 through http://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100/1982-10-16
  8. ^ "Chicago". GRAMMY.com. 2017-05-14. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  9. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA: Artists: Chicago". RIAA. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  10. ^ Dobrin, Gregory (May 19, 1984). "ASCAP Celebrates 70th Anniversary With First Pop Awards Dinner, Gala" (PDF). Cash Box. Vol. XLVI no. 50. George Albert. pp. 14, 29. Retrieved March 5, 2019 – via AmericanRadioHistory.com.
  11. ^ Fortes, Michael (29 March 2013). "The Popdose Guide to Chicago". www.popdose.com. PopDose. Retrieved 2019-06-29.
  12. ^ DeKNOCK, JAN (1986-08-01). "Cetera At No. 1 With 'Glory Of Love'". tribunedigital-sunsentinel. Retrieved 2017-02-16.
  13. ^ "AFI: Summer Lovers". www.afi.com. American Film Institute. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  14. ^ Grein, Paul (January 26, 1985). "Record of the Year: Chicago Sustaining Comeback Momentum". Billboard. Vol. 97 no. 4. New York, NY: Billboard Publications, Inc. pp. 6, 79. Retrieved 2017-07-23.
  15. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  16. ^ "Chicago – Hard to Say I'm Sorry – Austriancharts.at". Austriancharts.at (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  17. ^ "Ultratop.be – Chicago – Hard to Say I'm Sorry". Ultratop (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  18. ^ "50 Singles". RPM. 36 (4). September 11, 1982. ISSN 0033-7064. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  19. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1982-08-28. Retrieved 2018-03-10.
  20. ^ "Top 100 Single". Charts.de (in German). Media Control. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  21. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – Hard to Say I'm Sorry". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
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  23. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Chicago – Hard to Say I'm Sorry – Hitparade.ch". Hitparade.ch (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  25. ^ "1982-10-09 Top 40 Official UK Singles Archive | Official Charts". Official Charts Company. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
  26. ^ "Chicago Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  27. ^ "Forum – ARIA Charts: Special Occasion Charts – 1982". Australian-charts.com. Hung Medien. Retrieved 17 April 2017.
  28. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". collectionscanada.gc.ca. Archived from the original on 2016-08-11.
  29. ^ Swiss Year-End Charts, 1982
  30. ^ Rees, Dafydd; Lazell, Barry; Jones, Alan (1983). "The Top 100 UK Singles". Chart File Volume 2. London, England: Virgin Books. pp. 80–81. ISBN 0-907080-73-1.
  31. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1982/Top 100 Songs of 1982". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved 2016-10-31.
  32. ^ "Billboard Hot 100 60th Anniversary Interactive Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 10 December 2018.
  33. ^ Bronson, Fred (March 8, 1997). "Az Yet Not Sorry It Redid Chicago Hit". Billboard. 109 (10). Howard Lander. p. 78. Retrieved August 16, 2017 – via Google Books.
  34. ^ a b Taylor, Chuck (July 12, 1997). "For Former Chicago Crooner Cetera, Making Hits Is A Hard Habit To Break". Billboard. BPI Communications, Inc. p. 85. Retrieved August 16, 2017 – via Google Books.
  35. ^ Bronson, Fred (1997-10-25). "Chart Beat: Jackson Lassoes No. 1 With 'Rope'". Billboard. 109 (43). p. 102 – via Google Books.
  36. ^ "The Hot 100 for May 3, 1997". Billboard. Billboard. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  37. ^ "Gold & Platinum - RIAA Artist: Az Yet Label: LaFace". RIAA. Retrieved 2017-02-07.
  38. ^ "Az Yet". GRAMMY.com. 2017-05-14. Retrieved 2017-08-16.
  39. ^ "Babyface leads nominees for 40th annual Grammy Awards". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Associated Press. January 7, 1998. p. E6. Retrieved 2017-08-16 – via Newspapers.com. 
  40. ^ "ASCAP Honors Gordy; BMI Throws 46th Pop Awards Fete". Billboard. Howard Lander. June 27, 1998. p. 55. Retrieved March 6, 2019 – via Google Books.
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  42. ^ "100 Hit Tracks". RPM. 65 (18). July 7, 1997. ISSN 0033-7064. Archived from the original on December 28, 2012. Retrieved 2013-01-15.
  43. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Az Yet feat. Peter Cetera – Hard To Say I'm Sorry". GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  44. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Az Yet feat. Peter Cetera – Hard To Say I'm Sorry" (in Dutch). Single Top 100.
  45. ^ "Charts.nz – Az Yet feat. Peter Cetera – Hard To Say I'm Sorry". Top 40 Singles.
  46. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Az Yet feat. Peter Cetera – Hard To Say I'm Sorry". Singles Top 100.
  47. ^ "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company.
  48. ^ "Az Yet Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  49. ^ "Az Yet Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.
  50. ^ "Az Yet Chart History (Rhythmic)". Billboard.
  51. ^ "End of Year Charts 1997". Recorded Music NZ. Retrieved 2017-12-04.
  52. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1997 Singles". Australian Recording Industry Association.
  53. ^ "New Zealand single certifications – Az Yet – Hard to Say I'm Sorry". Recorded Music NZ.
  54. ^ "Best-Selling Records of 1997". Billboard. BPI Communications Inc. 110 (5): 76. January 31, 1998. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2015-05-29.
  55. ^ "American single certifications – Az Yet – Hard to Say I". Recording Industry Association of America. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 
  56. ^ https://www.discogs.com/The-Three-Degrees-Album-Of-Love/master/1358824
  57. ^ Parton, Chris (2015-08-10). "See Tim McGraw's Backstage Jam of Classic Chicago Hit". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-02-08.
  58. ^ "Dankner Music & Talk - Webisodes: Peter Cetera (Original Member of CHICAGO )". www.phildanknermusic.com. June 2016. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  59. ^ "Peter Cetera - My Musical Journey". YouTube. Dankner Music and Talk. June 9, 2016. Retrieved November 28, 2017.
  60. ^ Katzowitz, Josh (2017-01-21). "Roger Federer tweets video that proves maybe he shouldn't start a boy band". The Daily Dot. Retrieved 2017-02-08.

External linksEdit