Look Away

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This article is about the Chicago song. For other uses, see Look Away (disambiguation).
"Look Away"
Look Away (Chicago single - cover art).jpg
Single by Chicago
from the album Chicago 19
B-side "Come in from the Night"
Released September 9, 1988[1]
Format 7"
Recorded 1988
Genre Rock
Length 4:02
Label Full Moon/Reprise
Writer(s) Diane Warren
Producer(s) Ron Nevison
Chicago singles chronology
"I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love"
"Look Away"
"You're Not Alone"

"Look Away" is a 1988 power ballad by American rock band Chicago. Written by Diane Warren, produced by Ron Nevison, and with Bill Champlin on lead vocals, it is the second single from the band's album Chicago 19. The song topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks in December 1988, matching the chart success of the group's "If You Leave Me Now" (1976) and "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" (1982). "Look Away" is Chicago's seventh song to have peaked at number one on the Adult Contemporary chart as well as the number one song on the 1989 year-end Billboard Hot 100 chart, even though it never held the #1 spot at all in 1989.

The song, unlike hits from early in Chicago's career, does not prominently feature horns. It is also the band's first number-one single following the departure of Peter Cetera, who left the group in 1985.


According to drummer Danny Seraphine, Chicago's manager Howard Kaufman suggested that the band bring in outside songwriting help. Kaufman recommended Diane Warren, who also composed the band's single "I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love," and producer Ron Nevison, who had worked with Heart on the number one hits "These Dreams" and "Alone."[2]

The lyrics for "Look Away" were inspired by Warren after speaking with a friend who worked in the same building. "She had gotten divorced and remained friends with her husband," Warren recalled. "I was in her office, and she was talking to him, telling him that she had met somebody else that she was going to marry. Even though they were still friends, I think on some level he thought they'd get back together. When she told him that it was really the end of the relationship, I thought, 'Wow, there's definitely a song here.'"[3]

Warren wrote "Look Away" from the man's perspective and submitted a demo to Chicago's management company. "Diane's demos always sound really good," Nevison said. "Her demos are always very simple, but they always have great vocal performances."[3] Bassist Jason Scheff remarked, "The songs that last for me are the ones I don't get at first," and added, "I remember hearing 'Look Away' and thinking it's okay, but not great. Thank God I'm not an A&R man."[3]

Before being submitted to Chicago, the song was one of two ballads offered by Epic Records to Cheap Trick, who chose "The Flame" instead.[4]

The song featured Bill Champlin on lead vocals and furthered Chicago's shift towards de-emphasizing the band's brass section compared to their earlier years.[5] Scheff noted that with Peter Cetera having left the group and "making his own records, it was good for us to release some songs with a different sound (like) Bill's voice. Then we wouldn't be saturating radio with Chicago-sounding songs."[3]


"Look Away" entered the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in September 1988 and reached number one, where it spent two weeks, in December.[3][5] Champlin said he was unaware of the feat at the time. "Everybody said, 'I hear your song every day,'" he recalled. "I go, 'What song?' I was kind of oblivious to the whole thing, busy working on new stuff. That's what happens. As everybody else gets aware of what you're doing, you're usually about five or six tunes past it."[6] The single was certified gold in January and ranked number one on the 1989 Billboard Year-End singles chart.[1][7] It also reached number one on the Adult Contemporary chart.[8] "Look Away" peaked at number one in Canada, number 10 in the Netherlands, number 15 in Sweden, and number 20 in Belgium.[9][10]

Track listing[edit]

7" Vinyl; Cassette
No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Look Away"   Diane Warren 3:59
2. "Come In From the Night"   Bill Champlin, Bruce Gaitsch 4:39

Charts and certifications[edit]

Chart successions[edit]

Preceded by
"Kissing a Fool" by George Michael
Billboard Adult Contemporary (chart) number-one single
December 3, 1988
Succeeded by
"Giving You the Best That I Got" by Anita Baker
Preceded by
"Baby, I Love Your Way / Freebird Medley" by Will to Power
Billboard Hot 100 number one single
December 10, 1988–December 17, 1988
Succeeded by
"Every Rose Has Its Thorn" by Poison


  1. ^ a b c "RIAA searchable database: Chicago". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Seraphine, Danny (2010). Street Player: My Chicago Story. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley. pp. 242–3. ISBN 978-0470416839. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Bronson, Fred (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th ed.). New York: Billboard Books. p. 716. ISBN 978-0823076772. 
  4. ^ Galipault, Garry (11 May 1998). "Cheap Trick Wants You to Want Them Again | Pause & Play CD and Music Site". Pause and Play. Retrieved 26 September 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c Hogan, Ed. "'Look Away' - Song Review". Allmusic (Rovi Corporation). Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Pickle, Betsy (21 February 1989). "Chicago keeps churning out hits". The Telegraph. Scripps. p. 23. 
  7. ^ a b "1999: The Year in Music". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 111 (52): YE-42. 25 December 1999. ISSN 0006-2510. 
  8. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961-2001. Record Research. p. 54. 
  9. ^ a b "RPM 100". RPM. RPM Music Publications Ltd. 49 (10). 24 December 1988. ISSN 0315-5994. 
  10. ^ a b c d "Ultratop - 'Look Away'". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 
  11. ^ "Chart Archive - Chicago - 'Look Away'". Chart Archive. Retrieved 15 September 2012. 

External links[edit]