At the time of writing this, it is still morning on the eastern coast of the United States. So this does qualify as the Morning Groove.
First and foremost, I’d like to wish all of you who visit A Joyful Process a happy, healthy and safe Independence Day.
Today’s Morning Groove is the last top ten hit James Brown would ever have on the Hot 100 Pop listings. It was released as part of the movie soundtrack to Rocky IV, and performed in the film as the intro music for Apollo Creed in the opening fight sequence against Ivan Drago. It also has become one of the songs that is something of a love letter to America (and Brown does have one of those in his catalog: a spoken word song from 1968 called “America Is My Home“). “Living In America” is the Morning Groove for today.
Brown didn’t even have a hand in writing this song; those honors went to the late Dan Hartman and Charlie Midnight. Much like many of Brown’s songs during the 80s, producers and songwriters went for what they believed a James Brown record should sound like at that time, as opposed to what one sounded like when Brown was writing and producing the songs himself. So what you have is a James Brown record built off of a skeleton of a James Brown record. You have the driving beat, some horns, and Brown doing what he had done for years. This time around, thanks to the movie, and the sentiment in the song as well, he managed to get his last big hit.
After that, there were some R&B songs that made the top ten while working with the group Full Force, his arrest and eventual imprisonment, and a few more songs, with none of them having the impact of his greatest work. However, today’s song will always be a part of the James Brown history-because even though it might not be his greatest work, the work is still his; and it’s a part of a long legacy of the Godfather of Soul’s work over the course of almost fifty years of music making. A legacy, especially in R&B circles, that is definitive, long-lasting, and Rushmore-worthy.
Enjoy today’s Morning Groove, and as always, thanks for reading and listening.