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).
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.
- 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
- It’s played in Rocky II‘s training montage. Best. Training. Montage. Ever.2
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.