A Conversation with Peter Cetera
H&K: We see that you are going to be playing with a 42-piece Festival Symphony Orchestra at The Polish Heritage Festival Saturday, June 9. How many of your own musicians will you bring with you?
CETERA: Well, I actually tour with a four piece group from Nashville, friends of mine. We travel with various symphonies around the country. It can end up being a total of 30 to 50-some pieces, depending on where we’re playing.
H&K: So, you incorporate local musicians. Paul Anka and Johnny Mathis do the same thing… bring in key people and then use local musicians, orchestras and such. That’s a great idea. It brings in the hometown feeling and adds a new element to the show.
CETERA: Yes, true. What happened, as far as my working with an orchestra, was my friend David Foster was doing a show for the McDonald’s Corporation, about four or fi ve years ago in Chicago for their world benefi t. He asked if I would like to sing a couple of songs with the symphony orchestra that we had worked on together. We got together and came up with about a 10 or 12 minute medley of the songs David and I had done together. From that, PBS saw it and wanted to know i f I’d be interested in doing a PBS special.
H&K: On the subject of playing with an orchestra, we would like to read you a review we came across… “If you ever have a chance to see Peter Cetera in concert, especially now that he performs with a full orchestra, do not hesitate. A voice that will melt your soul, and lets you appreciate all the emotions he sends to your heart.”
CETERA: Yes… that was my mother.
H&K: That’s quite a review!
CETERA: You know, it is so much fun to do this show. For me it’s a unique way to do all those songs again. I don’t think it disappoints. It’s an extremely lovely evening.
H&K: You have recorded some of the most popular and best loved songs over the years. How many albums have you recorded to date?
CETERA: Let’s see… eighteen with Chicago and I have about fi ve or six solo albums.
H&K: If you had to pick one song that you think most fans would identify with you, which song would it be?
CETERA: Probably “If You Leave Me Now.” Certainly when we do songs live I get a great response from “Next Time I Fall” or “Hard To Say I’m Sorry,” but I would have to say “If You Leave Me Now” would be the one.
H&K: Is there a song of yours that would sum up your life career-wise or personally?
CETERA: The songs I write… the majority of them, are about how I’m feeling at that moment and at that time. They’re like little snippets into my soul. So they’re all special in a certain way.
H&K: Have you ever been approached, and/or would you be interested in doing voice overs for a Disney or Pixar movie?
CETERA: I would do that in a heart beat! That seems like so much fun, doesn’t it?
H&K: Yes! It does!
CETERA: I mean all you have to do is watch something like “Shrek” and you go, “God I want to do that!” (laughs) Unfortunately… living in Idaho I don’t have my face shown all over Hollywood to be asked to do something like that. I think you have to be part of that scene. You know, I was watching “Dancing With The Stars” the other night…
H&K: We love that show!
CETERA: Yes! Well, I didn’t watch it the fi rst couple of years but I did watch it last year and thought… OK, this isn’t bad, but this year it’s great! But when they show the audience it’s like a who’s who of Hollywood. So that’s what I mean about being part of the “scene.” But yes, I love the judges. The English guy.
H&K: The old crank (laughs).
H&K: We like Bruno. Who do you think is going to win?
CETERA: Well, I think Apolo should win.
H&K: Yes, defi nitely!
CETERA: Those two together, Apolo and Julianne, are just so hot!
H&K: And the fact that Julianne is only 18 years old and choreographs routines like that…
CETERA: Oh yea… it’s unbelievable!
H&K: It’s amazing!
CETERA: Yes, it really is! And they’re a really cute couple and they’re really good together.
H&K: Would you ever like to be on the show as a dancer?
CETERA: No, no, no. I could never… you know, we see them in this form after all these weeks. They’re working hard. It’s not something you just… they’re working hard.
H&K: Yes, you’re right.
CETERA: I mean yes, I could come on and act like Clyde Drexler, the basketball player.
H&K: Oh my God (laughs).
CETERA: Seriously though, as nice a guy as he is, these last four couples are really working hard, and I couldn’t handle that.
H&K: Would you be better than Billy Ray Cyrus?
CETERA: (long pause) Yes!
H&K: (laughs) We would hope. C E - TERA: (laughs) But he was still compelling to watch and you got to give anyone that goes on that show a lot of credit. I could never do it!
H&K: Your songs have been featured in a couple of blockbuster movies… “Karate Kid Part II” and “Pretty Woman.” Did you write the songs for the particular movies, or were they already hits that were hand picked for the soundtracks?
CETERA: “Pretty Woman” they just picked. And it’s funny… with “The Glory Of Love” I was actually hired to write a song for the “Rocky” movie, the one where he fi ghts the Russian. That was going to be the theme song.
H&K: Really? We never knew that.
CETERA: They showed me snippets of the fi lm and gave me the script and I wrote “The Glory Of Love” and I thought it was a hell of a song. You know… (reciting a line from the song) “I am a man that will fi ght for your honor”.
H&K: Yes, it seems that it would have been perfect.
CETERA: Then right towards the end, as I went in to record it, they… let’s just say there was some issues and I pulled the song.
H&K: Well, that was their loss!
CETERA: Yes. Then about a week later some people from “Karate Kid” happened to call up and were wondering if I had anything that they could use. So they actually came to the studio and I played them the song, which was perfect for that movie as well. We changed a couple of words around and they used that for the theme for their movie.
H&K: What a great story!
CETERA: Yes. And it was nominated for the Academy Award and I got to sing it on the Academy Awards, so that was fun and made for an interesting night.
H&K: Peter, do you have a Buffalo connection?
CETERA: I remember being caught in a snow storm…
H&K: (laughs) You know, several artists we’ve talked to remember being caught in a snow storm here. (laughs)
CETERA: (laughs) It was years ago and I remember looking out my hotel window down at the streets with snow swirling around, and being stuck there for a couple of days. I think we played in the old Buffalo Bills stadium.
H&K: We want to thank you for spending some time with us Peter, but before we go we just want to say that the thing about you and your music, is when you’re in the car and fl ipping through radio stations, and you hear a Peter Cetera song, that’s usually the one you stop at.
CETERA: Well, I appreciate that. Part of the fun for me at my shows is there are the people that know I was in “Chicago” and then there are people who know me from my solo career, and a lot of times the two don’t meet. Meaning that some of the older people that know me from my early days with “Chicago,” don’t know my solo work that the younger people may know me by. And that lends itself to a great mix of younger and older at my shows. And that’s a lot of fun for me.