When Rocky IV came out in 1985, we still had major tensions with the Soviet Union. And this movie, the fourth in the sequel of too many, gave Americans not only something to cheer about, but to be inspired by. Unlike the first Rocky, this one was definitely cheesy and predictable. That is as far as I will go as far as spoiling.
But the movie did produce a great album, and this is now my third album of ten that had made a difference to me in my life.
Of course, the whole concept of the Rocky franchise simply is just overcoming adversity. My life has been filled with adversity. But in the first major challenge of my life, this music made a difference.
I have finally gotten around to writing the book that I have always wanted to write, courtesy of Covid19. Of the other times I have begun the process, this being the sixth, I am now currently on Chapter 21. So far so good.
In what I have written already, I mention that I listened to my Walkman during my treatments. For those not old enough to know what a Walkman is, it was a device to listen to CD’s… oh hell, too much to explain progress.
I placed strategic music on this Walkman. I was fighting cancer. And I knew that going through chemo was for the fight of my life. And after all, in the end, Rocky always won, literally or metaphorically. So, with my eyes closed, I would listen to music that would have enough energy and inspiration to get me through my eight round fight.
The soundtrack is not without its flaws, but with technology, I only needed to “burn” to a CD certain songs from the album.
The 80’s pop band Survivor actually had three songs for the movie, “Burning Heart” and of course repeating “Eye Of The Tiger” used also in Rocky III. But Survivor’s third song ended up cut from the movie and the soundtrack. Not really sure where it would have fit, which is why it was cut, but it was a great song nonetheless. It was called “A Man Against The World.” Definitely written for Rocky, it is a constantly played song in my playlist.
The other hit from the movie was James Brown’s “Living In America.” It was a rejuvenation of Brown’s popularity, but the song overall was as cheesy as the movie.
But there were two songs that did not attract as much attention, but to me were inspiring in their lyrics, and the music just lit the spark I needed to push harder, just as it did in the movie. Robert Tepper’s “No Easy Way Out” was played during a time that Rocky was now questioning everything he had done, whether it was worth it, because of the ultimate price paid. The other, John Cafferty of the Beaver Brown Band sang “Hearts On Fire” during the cliche training montage. The song is heart pounding and sounds victorious.
And as usual, there are instrumentals that inspire me to turn the volume as high as it can go. And just like Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now” in the very first movie, Vince DiCola’s “War” and “Training Montage” ended my chemotherapy appointments.
But my appreciation for this odd choice did not stop in 1990 and my remission. Every time I have had to deal with a health issue resulting from the late effects of my treatments, requiring rehabilitation or starting over, it is this same music that I turn to.
“Yo Adrien… I did it!”