The Meaning Behind “Glory of Love” by Peter Cetera and Why It Was so Important to His Budding Solo Career

The ’80s were prime time for stirring power ballads tied into major motion pictures. Peter Cetera‘s “Glory of Love” certainly scratched that itch in a major way. It soared to the top of the pop charts upon its release in 1986.

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What is the song about? How did Cetera and his co-writers come up with the ideas for the track? And why was it so important to Cetera’s budding solo career? Let’s take a look at one of the finest movie songs in a decade that was filled with them.

Next Train Out of Chicago

When the band Chicago was formed, it was generally agreed that they’d be kind of faceless, with different members stepping to the fore to fulfill the writing and singing duties. But as the ’70s wore on, it was impossible to deny that the biggest hits by the band weren’t their horn-heavy, up-tempo jams, but rather the tender ballads sung and often written by bassist Peter Cetera.

When the ’80s rolled around, and mega-producer David Foster became intimately involved with the group, Cetera’s dominance on the band’s singles only increased. His role as unofficial frontman was strengthened when Chicago started doing videos for MTV. This turn of events also likely frustrated other band members.

Despite Cetera’s work being all over the smash 1984 album Chicago 17, both he and the band were growing unhappy with the arrangement. Cetera wanted to tour less and have time for doing solo albums. The rest of the band decided Cetera might be happier pursuing his solo exploits permanently, and he was removed from the band.

The Big First Single

Cetera began making his first post-Chicago record in 1985, which was about about the time he was contacted by the makers of The Karate Kid Part II about possibly doing a theme song for the movie. He and David Foster already had a chord progression on which they had been working, and they decided they would use that as the basis for the song.

Cetera was then shown footage of the film to help inspire him. In particular, he locked in on the film’s themes of honor and courage. He worked on the lyrics with this then-wife Diane Nini until he had the song in its finished form.

“Glory of Love” was perfectly timed for Cetera to jump-start his solo career. It arrived at the same time as the film and a few weeks ahead of his album Solitude/Solitaire, giving it a boost. Meanwhile, Chicago moved on from Cetera with new singers and more hit ballads of their own.

What is the Meaning of “Glory of Love”?

“Glory of Love” describes the lengths to which a person will go to make things right for someone they love. The narrator here is no saint, as evidenced by these lines: Sometimes I just forget / Say things I might regret / It breaks my heart to see you crying. He wins points, however, for wanting to express his deepest feelings to her: There’s so many things I want to say.

The only way that he can quite make his feelings known is to compare himself to heroes of yore: It’s like a night in shining armor, he explains. Just in time, I will save the day / Take you to my castle far away. In the chorus, he suggests that a kind of immortality awaits those who buy in wholly to the promise of romance: We’ll live forever / Knowing together / That we did it all for the glory of love.

Those are lofty statements, but they make total sense in the midst of the stirring music and when delivered by Cetera’s high-arching voice. “Glory of Love” proved Peter Cetera’s balladic formula could work well outside the confines of his former band, and even when removed from the context of the movie that included it.

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