Colour My World

Album: Chicago II (1970)


  • This was written by Chicago's trombone player, James Pankow, and sung by Terry Kath. After Kath's death in 1978, the band did not play the song for several years, eventually bringing It back with Bill Champlin on vocals when he joined in 1981. The song remained a concert favorite, and was later sung live by Robert Lamm.
  • In our interview with James Pankow, he explained: "I titled it 'Colour My World' because it affected a lyric that again mirrors the emotion of love. In this case, I used the emotion of love and description as a Technicolor movie that takes places in my heart. It colors, it gives color and vivid definition to my life, like bringing this emotion to it."
  • On the album, this is the fourth section of a musical suite called "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon." Almost 13-minutes long, the suite begins with "Make Me Smile," which became the band's first hit when their record company packaged that section as a single.
  • On The Chris Isaak Hour, Pankow explained: "It's a small segment of a multi-movement piece on our second album which is basically a tribute to my first love. I had been listening to Bach - the Brandenburg Concertos, and they had all those arpeggiated melodies. I sat at a piano and started messing around with these arpeggios. That cycle of arpeggios became the foundation of the song.

    Frank Sinatra called our publicist and said, 'Ask that kid to write another verse for that song.' I thought about it, I called him back and said I can't do it - it's like sewing another arm on your kid, I can't do it."
  • The band was on tour and staying at a Holiday Inn when James Pankow came up with the melody late at night on his keyboard. When he came up with a contrapuntal melody for flute, he couldn't wait, so he woke up Walter Parazaider, the saxophone/flute player in the band, and they worked out the song in Pankow's room.
  • One of the band's most popular songs, "Colour My World" never charted because it wasn't released as a single. It was used as the B-side of the "Make Me Smile" in April 1970, and as the B-side of "Beginnings" in June 1971.
  • Seems not everyone in the band likes this song. Bill Champlin almost turned down the gig when he found out he would have to sing it. "I did it for a few years and I handed it off to Robert Lamm," he said in a Songfacts interview. "I started jazzing it a little bit and singing different melodies than the original and started pissing off the guys. Robert said I should do it, and I went, 'Don't throw me in that briar patch.' I let him take it.

    I just don't dig that tune very much. I can play it, and I can sing it, but night after night after night of it...

    I heard rumors that they drew straws to see who was going to sing it in the studio and the loser had to sing it, so Terry ended up singing it. And, from what I understand, he had a bottle of Jack before he sang. He wanted to give it one pass and there's history right there. That's how good a singer Terry was."

Comments: 44

  • Darlener from MsColor My World was our wedding song in 1968. Thank you for a lovely song.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenWonderful share by Trina. That's why songs like this are made.
  • Trina from WyomingThis is our wedding song. We married in 1981, after dating on and off for 7 years. My husband served 20 years in the Navy and we often experienced separations. This song was played at our daughter’s wedding and my sweet husband and I cried while dancing to it. I sand it to him as we danced and the lyrics become more profound with each passing year.
  • Vangster from AtlThis is a rare rhymeless gem. Thank you Mr. Pankow. If you didn't write this one............thank you anyways.
  • Joan from MichiganColor my World was our wedding song in 1977....we are still married and going on 43 years....we just got home tonight after running some errands and when we pulled in the driveway this song came on....WOW I haven't heard it in a long long time!!!
  • Harry from MoMy wife & I attended a Chicago concert in 1973, It was our fist date and I stole a first kiss during the song Color My World. Next month we have tickets to another Chicago concert our love has colored our world for forty five years and this song brings many memories.
  • Ivan from Vienna, Va.Some very few songs are as dynamically moving as this, to me. Colour my world, upon every time hearing it, stops me in my tracks and I am raptured in a deep trance. My heart and soul become invigorated with a reassurance that love exists. I can listen to this song endlessly over and over, and the effect increases without end... I am awed by such wonderful and creative minds as these who spawn such inspirations.
  • Vicki from TexasWhy was the English (UK) spelling of color (colour) used in title of the song? Just curious, is there a reason?
  • Bebe from Parkersburg, WvAt the end of the "Suspense" radio episodes it sounds like the same piano melody.
  • Kimberly from Landing, NjColor is more than art. It our life know. For the wonderful minds.
  • Oldpink from Farmland, InI have to make an observation about the late Terry Kath's singing, and I'm honestly not trying to stereotype here.
    I had heard their music for years, long before I ever saw any footage of them performing, and I really believed that the guy with the magnificent gruff bass voice singing on the likes of "Make Me Smile" and "Colour My World" was a black guy.
    Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Terry Kath was a white guy.
    I've heard it elsewhere that Terry was affectionally called the "White Ray Charles," which nicely supports this personal story.
    The man sure had it going on...excellent guitarist, and he could sing his a$$ off.
    So sad that we lost him so young, and Chicago -- while still good -- never was the same after his loss.
  • Penny from Fort Wayne, InMy heart just melted when it was played on Parenthood. Terry Kath has such an incredible voice. He WAS NOT playing russian roulette. His face wasn't injured, his body of work is incredible, and after all this time he is still deeply missed. His daughter Michelle, is doing a movie about him. I look forward to it. He took his sandals off during a recording session so he wouldn't make any noise because he walked around so much while he played.
  • Robert from Glen Ellyn, IlPlayed in a wedding scene tonight on Parenthood.
  • Kimberly from Landing, NjThe difference of time, time passages as how we visualize are escape. as dreams happen, hope is realized thru speech, art, gratitude and emotions
  • James from Yucaipa, CaBeautiful song sung by the late terry kath. Chicago was never the same after his accidental death in 1978. RIP terry. 9/14/10
  • Ryons from Melbourne, FlJohn, just did listen to them together, and they have similar style, BUT, they both are "Cycles of Arpeggios", which Jimmy Pankow freely admits to borrowing from Bach and the Brandenburg Concertos. I believe Bach preceded both Pankow and McCall.
  • John from Houston, TxI am not doubting that they may have wrote the lyrics but if you listen to the music the song was actually taken from Toussaint McCall's song Nothing Takes The Place Of You. Listen to the piano and drums in the background and then play it side by side with chicago. Only thing is the tempo is different.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InI see one of the earlier posters here, Tammy, used this in her own wedding. Well, I'm a guy, and I always loved this song, and I intend to see if I can get it in my own wedding somewhere, too.
  • Penny from Fort Wayne, InWhen choosing a singer for "Colour my World" none of the guys wanted to sing it so they drew straws and Terry got the short one, the rest is lovely history. No other voice, face or total talent could've done this song justice. Chicago needs to release videos of all Kath years concerts and jam sessions. The new Chicago is a shell without Terry Kath
  • Tammy from Dallas, OrMy bridesmaids walked in to Colour My World when I got married for the first time in 1976,wearing pastel dresses in different colors, it was the most beautiful part of the wedding, I've always loved the song even though the marriage didn't work.-Tammy, Dallas, Or.
  • Mark from Seattle, WaWalt Parazaider and his flute on this is some of the best for rock and roll pop. Walt has been married to his wife since the beginning and still is....Good for you Parazaider!
  • Spence from Brooklyn, NyPeter Cetera may have had the best vocals in the band, but im my opinion, Jimmy Pankow was the best songwriter!
  • Ken from St Charles, Moyou don't play Russian Roulette with a 9mm semi-auto. He was apparently goofing around with a .38 pulling the trigger like he was playing RR. Then picked up a 9mm ... Showed his friends the empty clip but didn't check the chamber for a live round.
  • Ghostgetter from Dallas, TxOne of the band members walked in and said quit playing with that gun and he said it's not loaded see!!! and put it to his head and it went off. There was a bullet still left in the chamber. It was an accident
  • Ellen from Houston, TxDid you ever notice that the drummer missed a beat at 1:09? There is no snare-drum beat during the vocal part, "just what you mean to me". I wonder what happened.
  • Oldpink from New Castle, InYes, it's very short, simple, and sentimental.
    And, yet, it is also beautiful.
    Kath's mellow baritone vocals are wonderful, and a nice contrast to the overblown falsetto that was almost a requirement for a rock singer at that time.
    Then, that nice flute piece, just MAKES the song.
    I also know a woman who can play that on her own flute, and she says it is not an easy piece, since it is on the lower end of the scale, requiring considerably more breath to pull off onn an instrument that already requires quite a lot of lung power.
    Wonderful work.
  • Henry from Pawtucket, RiKath died from a gun accident, not Russian Roulette.
  • Kevin from Reading , PaIf I recall correctly, this was part of a two-sided "A" single, paired with "Beginnings."
  • Koz from Chelsea, Mijohn is right, this is part of "Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon" and this makes up several songs similar to a peice of music with multiple movements. great song.
  • Musicmama from New York, NyI've heard that this is the most commonly-played song at weddings. Personally, I find it rather monotonous. And what Chicago did later was very, very predictable.
  • Busszz from Breckiridge, CoActually...
    he did NOT die with a bullet in his head. He was at a party playing with the gun of a friend that was loaded with blanks. Kath was familar with guns...but not blanks. Somehow (it's never been clear how)the gun was discharged and the blast went off too close to his head. "blanks" do not emit a projectile...but they do blow a massive amount of energy out the barrel...enough to penetrate skin if it;s close enough. The blast out the barrel hit him in the face and the resulting injury killed him.
  • John from Kirkland, WaThis song was only part of another song - "Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon". This song also included "Make Me Smile" that was combined with "Now More Than Ever" and released as a single - "Make Me Smile" - John
  • Jennifer from Los Angeles, CaFor some reason I've always found this song plodding and dreary. It was years after it came out that I actually noticed it was a love song and not a song about gloom and ennui.
    As for Terry's death, it was- I believe- from a mishap when he was cleaning his gun. One of those "don't worry- it's not loaded" situations where he pretended to shoot himself, not expecting the gun to go off.
  • AnonymousTo Stephen: Where did you find the music for this song on piano. I love this song but I can't find the music and I've been looking for a long time.
  • Dirk from Nashville, TnWhether or not Terry Kath died playing Russian Roulette, he definitely died putting a bullet into his head. He was an amazing guitarist--very original, very unlike anyone else in rock music. He was just amazing. They did fantastic stuff in the studio. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, they often sucked in concert when they were young. And Terry sucked worst of all. There was a Chicago live album from about 1971-72. If you listen to it and listen to Terry singing, you'd wonder how it was possible for them to be famous. But records like CMW made up for it.
  • Greg from Charleston, Scthe lyrics are simple and perfect...the music takes over the lyrics and brings the song to a excellent resolve. Luv it!
  • Stephen from Altamont, IlTerry Kath died playing Russian Roulette I think.

    Colour my World was the #1 prom song of the 70's or 80's.

    I can play it on the piano too :D
  • Andrew from TorontoBeautiful song,very short but this is when Chicago could write a love song and not sound corny.Maybe because James Pankow wrote it instead of Peter Cetera,I don,t know.
  • Paul Serrato from Arlington, TxChicago Was 10 Times Better When Terry Kath Was Still Alive.
  • Don from Atlanta, GaBrilliant use of arpeggios by Pankow. Parazaider said of the flute solo Pankow wrote for him "this is going to make me famous". Bill Champlin did a nice performance of the vocals & keyboard in concert. Innovative work of the original recording by piecing this into Ballet for a Girl in Buchanon.
  • Shawn from Austin, TxThis song will forever be immortalized as un listenable due to the fact that my pop proceeded to tell me that i was conceived to it.
  • Dave from Pomeroy, OhFrank Sinatra said this was one of the most beautiful songs ever written. He called Jimmy Pankow and ask him to write abother verse so he could record it. Pankow thank him, but said no, saying it would take away from the song
  • Dave from Pomeroy, OhOne of the greatest love songs ever
  • Robert from Chicago, IlIn the Simpsons episode, "The Way We Was," the song could be heard during the night of Marge and Homer's High school prom.
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