My Favorite Albums: Rocky Original Motion Picture Score

I’m a big fan of the original compositions that color movies. Of the thirty-plus score albums I own, none is as special to me as Bill Conti’s Rocky Original Motion Picture Score.

I listened to this album non-stop during the summer of 1998. I was living in Columbus, OH, working as a college intern at a technology company. Though a series of mistakes and mis-steps, I was facing cross-roads in my college career. Nothing as serious as dropping out (never that)… but I was struggling with my grades (too much Alpha and not enough studying).

So I took 7 months off (the summer, plus the fall 1998 semester) and I worked as an engineering intern. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. I got focused and afterwards, went back to school and pulled my GPA up to respectable numbers.

It wasn’t always easy. My Mercury Topaz died on me, so I walked to and from work every day. I was trying to save as much as I could, so I lived in a crappy studio apartment – which wasn’t too bad, except that the apartment sat on top of a dive bar, so my place always smelled like stale beer.

I don’t mean to make it sound like it was hard living, but it was gritty – like the Rocky score. In fact, that score was the perfect soundtrack to that time in my life. I was working hard, saving everything I could, trying to eat right and live right.

I love almost all the tracks from Rocky: we all know “Gonna Fly Now” (I like the original rendition over the children’s chorus version from Rocky II). “Philadelphia Morning” (later used as Mickey’s theme in Rocky III) is melancholy; I think about my crappy one-room apartment every time I hear it. “Butkus” is a little dated, but is still solid.

My favorite cut on the album is “Going The Distance”. This track has three things going for it:
  1. The track is played during the fight between Rocky and Apollo. It starts at the end of the 3rd round, right after Rocky finally lands a few punches to Apollo’s body. 1
  2. It’s played in Rocky II‘s training montage. Best. Training. Montage. Ever.2
  3. It was sampled by the Hitmen in Victory… which is one of Puffy’s better tracks… probably because of the two versus by B.I.G. and the chorus by Busta Rhymes.

Bill Conti – Going The Distance


  1. People don’t give the first Rocky enough credit – it’s a really good movie. Hell, it won three Oscars. It’s not Raging Bull, but it’s good. There’s some decent acting “nuggets” in this fight scene: Mickey begging Rocky to stay down. Rocky willing himself off the mat. Adrian turning away because she can’t bear to watch the beating-down that Rocky is taking. Creed’s disbelief in Rocky’s persistence.
  2. A few years ago, Evander Holyfield was on late night TV talking about the training scene in Rocky II. He basically said, in a nicer way, that it was complete BS. Specifically, no one trains by running after chickens, and that having someone puch you in the abdomen while doing sit-ups would do more harm that good. Still, I choose to believe that if I were to ever become a boxer, I have to be able to catch a chicken with my bare hands.

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