I've been visiting, re-visiting, and visiting again one of my favorite songs of the 80s. What You're Missing was the lead single off of what ended up being Chicago's big comeback album. The single, unfortunately flopped but I remember the first time I heard the opening bars of What You're Missing on Chicago 16 and how much I absolutely loved it. There was something so dated, so distinctly early eighties about it. The guitar, the organ... the whole feel of the song.
And each successive song on the album also had that distinctly early eighties feel. Even today when I pop that CD in, I feel like I've been sent back to 1982 with no escape back to the future.
The song was written by Joseph Williams and Jay Gruska. Joseph Williams (for those not in the know) is the son of John Williams as in THE John Williams (composer of the scores to the Star Wars, Jaws, and Indiana Jones film franchises among others). Williams would later go on to become the lead singer of Toto (1986-1988) and has since become a TV score composer for a handful of series (Roswell, LA Doctors, and Early Edition to name a few). At any rate, I stumbled upon the demo version of What You're Missing which features Joseph Williams on lead vocals and a handful of session musicians backing him up.
Chicago enjoyed that demo enough to record it for Chicago 16, There's a certain level of overblown slick over-produced eighties cheesiness to this that I can't help but love in spite of itself!
I absolutely love that feeling. I remember when I used to visit my sister and her family my nephew and I would play pool in the basement and I'd pop the tape in... And suddenly it felt like I was in a pool hall in the early 80s, cigarette butts and dirt on the floors, a jukebox in the corner, and I was even able to mentally conjure the stench of cigarette smoke and stale beer. There was something adult about it-- and for a 12 year old, there was something decidedly cool about feeling that adult.
Now I'm 29, that nephew I used to play pool with... he's 21. Now we finally are adults and there's that part of me that would much rather be a 12 year old playing pool with my 6 year old nephew in his parent's basement.