Make Me Smile (as made famous by Chicago)

“Make Me Smile” is a song written by James Pankow for the rock band Chicago with the band’s guitarist, Terry Kath, on lead vocals. Part 1 of Pankow’s 7-part “Ballet for a Girl in Buchannon” song cycle/suite, it was recorded for their second album, Chicago (often called Chicago II), which was released in 1970. The song “Now More Than Ever”, a separate track from the same song suite, serves as a reprise of the song and appears edited together with it on many later versions, including a single edit, on several greatest hits collections, and in many live performances.

A radio-friendly edit of “Make Me Smile” was released as a single in March 1970, becoming the band’s first Top 10 record, peaking at number nine on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.[1] This version was heavily edited from the album version, with a modified introduction, abbreviated guitar solo, and with the track “Now More Than Ever” appended on the end to make a complete, 3-verse song. When Chicago released their compilation album The Very Best of Chicago: Only the Beginning in 2002, they featured a new edit of the song, with the “Make Me Smile” and “Now More Than Ever” parts segued together again, but without the numerous cuts—the full intro and the guitar solo of the former part, and the full outro of the latter part, were thus included.

Since the death of Terry Kath in 1978, the vocals for live performances of “Make Me Smile” were handled by Bill Champlin, who joined the band for the recording of Chicago 16, until he departed the group in August 2009. On shows that Champlin did not attend, Robert Lamm sang the lead vocal. Champlin’s replacement Lou Pardini has now taken over the singing of “Make Me Smile”.

Terry Kath – lead vocals, fuzzed electric guitar
Robert Lamm – piano, backing vocals
Peter Cetera – bass, backing vocals
Danny Seraphine – drums, tambourine, maracas
Jimmy Pankow – trombone
Lee Loughnane – trumpet
Walt Parazaider – tenor saxophone