This song marked a resurgence for Chicago, who had been dropped from their longtime label, Columbia Records, and picked up by the Full Moon label, which was distributed by Warner Bros.
"Hard to Say I'm Sorry" was their first single on Full Moon, providing an instant return for the label when the song went to #1 in America and even became a rare UK hit for Chicago, reaching #4 (it also went to #1 on the US Adult Contemporary chart).
To find this hit sound, the band turned to the same formula that brewed up their first #1 hit, "If You Leave Me Now
": A ballad with lead vocals by Peter Cetera.
Chicago was one of the first rock bands of the '60s and '70s to take on a softer, more keyboard-driven sound in the '80s, downplaying their famous horn section. They were followed by Yes ("Owner Of A Lonely Heart
"), Van Halen ("Jump
") and Heart ("These Dreams
") onto the charts with this new sound.