Musical criticism and commentary

Next Time I Fall in Love – It Will be with Metaphors.

Next time I fall in love - it will be with metaphors.

Last week, I created a playlist called the 70’s and 80’s Soft Rock Supercoma. One canonical soft rock song missing from this list: Peter Cetera (with Amy Grant) – Next Time I Fall. Some of you might wonder why this omission was made. Sure, I did include Peter Cetara’s “For the Glory of Love,” as well as Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now.” So Cetera was represented enough. Truth be told – I decided to leave “Next Time I Fall” for this very article.

“Next Time I Fall” might sound dated. Seriously, what is with those synthesizers and electric pianos? The song might also not really make any sense – who really knows who they’re going to fall in love with next? Don’t you think that if we knew that, we would probably already be in love with the person? Maybe the lyrics are just highly idealist, or maybe they can tell the future. That’s the only logical conclusion I guess

…or maybe the lyrics serve as a metaphor.

Next time Peter Cetara falls in love…

“Next Time I Fall” was written for Cetera’s vocals in his band, Chicago. However, Cetera left the band. Songwriters Paul Gordon and Caldwell wanted Cetera to sing it anyways – as a solo piece, and Cetera was like “eh, what the hell…but let’s make it a duet.” His record company chirps in and asks, “Have you heard that christian singer, Amy Grant?” Ok, so the story goes a little different than that – but that’s the general synopsis. But Let’s take a step back.

Peter Cetera left Chicago. A band he had been with for nearly 20 years! A band who probably would not be where they were then, nor would they be who they are today, without Cetera’s vocals. As a fan of Chicago, I still feel a little disappointed that Cetera left. Sure – Jason Scheff and Bill Champlin really gave us some amazing songs with their vocals, but Chicago just was not the same after Cetera’s departure. Chicago was a different band. We can almost compare Cetera leaving to a divorce. A falling out of love.

If Peter Cetera “fell out of love” with Chicago, perhaps he did, despite my earlier statement, know who (or rather what) he was going to fall in love with. Mainly – himself! That is to say Peter Cetera knew he wanted a solo career. Peter Cetera knew the next time he fell in love, the “you” he fell in love with would be his own music.

Mind you – I can’t blame him. Cetera stuck with Chicago for a long time. Sometimes things change, sometimes people change. At the end of the day – I can’t really say anything about his break up with Chicago, save for, that’s between him and his old bandmates. I can say I prefer the songs he did with Chicago over his solo work – but damn I’ll listen to anything he sings. Cetera has an amazing voice.

Next time Amy Grant falls in love…

Before “Next Time I Fall,” Amy Grant was someone you probably only knew from christian music circles. Mind you, Grant had a couple mild hits in “secular” charts from her (amazing) Unguarded album, but mostly she was known as the Contemporary Christian Music’s (CCM) favorite female vocalist.  Still, Grant wanted to widen her audience.

A few years after Grant recored “Next Time I Fall,” she recorded the infectious and controversial “Baby, Baby.” If you weren’t a fan of CCM, you might wonder why a song about monogamous and innocent love was so freaking controversial. Ultimately, the reason had to do with “worldliness.” Good christian girls did not go out and put themselves on secular music radio! Yeah – pretty dumb, huh? Poor Amy – she got so much flack for absolutely nothing.

My point here – Amy Grant knew she wanted more from her career and her audience. Grant had conquered the CCM charts, but really wanted to share her music with the rest of the world. “Next Time I Fall” gave her an open door to do just this. The song also served as a metaphor for her career shift. While Amy Grant had not divorced the CCM industry (as her catalog clearly shows), she felt the need to explore. She felt the need to take on a second “lover” (do not read into her personal romantic life here, it’s just a metaphor). She did not want to leave her current love of CCM, but wanted to fall in love with “secular” music as well. The next time she fell in love would be with bringing her positive and innocent brand of pop music to a whole new group of people. 

The next time Dan Huff falls in love…

Wait – who is Dan Huff? Again, if you don’t know christian music, you will probably not recognize that name. Dan Huff served as a founding member, vocalist, and guitarist to christian rock group WhiteHeart. Huff left the band and formed a quasi, not quite christian, not quite secular band called Giant (along with his brother, also of WhiteHeart). Dan Huff also became a studio musician and a producer, which is what makes him relevant to this conversation. Dan Huff played guitars on “Next Time I Fall.”

Sure – by the time “Next Time I fall,” came out, Huff had been out of WhiteHeart for a couple years and well established as a studio musician for both CCM and secular musicians. But the song still serves as a metaphor for his new career. Granted – the song served as a retrospective for Huff. Still – the song said next time I fall in love, it will not be with WhiteHeart and christian rock, but rather with whatever he felt like doing – secular or christian.

Not saying against WhiteHeart mind you – in fact, I’m kind of glad Huff left as this made way (eventually) for the amazing vocals of Rick Florian. WhiteHeart really was (when they were active) one of my favorite bands and I still have many fond memories of their music. I have no idea if Huff left on good terms – and frankly I don’t care. Again, that’s between Huff and WhiteHeart. The point being, just as the song serves as a metaphor for a change in Grant and Cetera’s careers, so does the song serve as a metaphor for Huff’s career.

The next time I Fall in Love…

The song serves as a metaphor for my own musical journey as well. In 1986, I was not allowed to listen to “secular” music. I would “sneak” pop stations onto my headphones, where I knew my parents couldn’t hear. I also listened to the aforementioned “Unguarded” album quite a lot. Really – this period of my life is when I started looking for what I called music, not just what my parents called music. I suppose, just like Amy, I was not looking to divorce myself from my CCM roots, but I wanted to expand my love. I wanted to explore new sounds and new music. The very fact that the song incorporates both christian and secular musicians really drives the metaphor home for me – as even now, that’s my modus operandi. I might be listening to Gwar one moment, and Stryper the next. DC Talk one moment (don’t judge me) and Vanilla Ice the next (again – don’t judge me).

Music to me is music. I just don’t care about labels – be it secular or christian. Some if of it is bad, some of it is good. I care more about my own connection with the music -as you should as well. Damn the dated keyboards. Damn the fact that I’m trying to justify my love for this song! The next time I fall in love, it will be with Amy and Peter singing a cheesy 80s duet.