I know a lot of people around the age of 30 or so, maybe 35-40, hear today’s song and think of Ice Cube. I’m sure they hear “It Was A Good Day” when they hear the music drop on this one. (Real deep hip-hop heads might remember today’s song was also sampled by Compton’s Most Wanted in “Can I Kill It?”) Some might even know the words. Wait…a lot of them do know the words. Starts like this:
Just waking up in the morning gotta thank God
I don’t know but today seems kinda odd
No barking from the dog, no smog
And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog
That’s their version of this song. My version and a lot of other people’s version is better known as “Footsteps In The Dark, Parts 1&2” by The Isley Brothers. It’s that version that is today’s Morning Groove.
Don’t get me wrong, I jammed to “It Was A Good Day” just as much as the next person. But I always knew that the Isley Brothers slow jam classic was the backbone that set Cube’s joint off. Not bad for a song that never charted, but is still revered by so many almost forty years later.
By the time this song was released on the album Go For Your Guns, the Isley Brothers were still in their 3 + 3 phase. The older brothers, Rudolph, O’Kelly and lead singer Ronald had been joined four years earlier by younger brothers Ernie and Marvin, and brother-in-law Chris Jasper. That combination brought a new level of fame and a new broader audience for the group, as Ernie’s Hendrix-styled guitar leads combined with the group vocal dynamics of the older brothers and Jasper and Marvin’s rhythm section on keyboards and bass, respectively. It could be said that the group had come up with their version of a funk-rock synthesis.
As for “Footsteps In The Dark,” it’s what used to be called a turntable hit. It garnered lots of airplay on the radio, often during Quiet Storm programs, but was not released as a proper single. In those days, DJ’s and radio stations would play songs from the album whether or not they were singles. That’s how today’s song came to be well-known. Of course, the laid-back now-classic groove played a part too.
If you aren’t familiar with the original song, I think you’ll like it, particularly if your first exposure to the musical bed was Ice Cube (or even Compton’s Most Wanted). As always, thanks for reading and listening.