The Grass Roots

Let's Live for Today

Composed by David Shapiro / Ivan Mogull / Michael Julien

Song Review by

"Let's Live for Today" by the Grass Roots is one of the most powerful songs and records to come out of the 1960s. As much as any single of the decade, it defines a mood and an era in emotionally and musically vivid terms. Curiously, considering its status as a quintessential American record, the song's origins lay far from the U.S.A. In 1963, an English group called the Cabin Boys, led by Norman Shapiro, found themselves in Italy, where they were recruited by a new manager, given a new name, the Rokes, and got a contract with RCA Italiana. By 1966, they were writing their own material, including "Piangi Con Me," co-authored by Shapiro, which was released in Italy. Their rendition was lighter textured and more upbeat and found its way back to the head of ABC-Dunhill, the Grass Roots' label, who thought it would be a good single for the group. The two composer/producers who managed the Grass Roots' recordings, P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri, were enthusiastic: Sloan was intrigued by its backing chorus' similarities to that of the Drifters song "I Count the Tears," and Barri arranged to have the song translated. "Let's Live for Today," as it was called in English, was cut by the Grass Roots assisted by a number of studio musicians (including P.F. Sloan on lead guitar), and became a Top Ten, two-million-selling single. Vocalist Rob Grill brought a mix of power and vulnerability to the lyrics, touching listeners on a multitude of levels, particularly evoking an affecting male sensibility in an unpretentious, working class demeanor. Domestic radio listeners and record buyers loved it, but where the single really struck a resonant chord was among men serving in Vietnam; the song's serious emotional content seemed to overlay perfectly with the sense of uncertainty afflicting most of those in combat; parts of the lyric could have echoed sentiments in any number of letters home, words said on last dates, and thoughts directed to deeply missed wives and girlfriends. Not surprisingly, Vietnam veterans almost universally profess a deep and abiding love of the song. Additionally, its musical impact would transcend the generations; the recording's mix of earthy yet vulnerable male sensibilities, its virtuosity, and sense of drama were very much the template upon which Bruce Springsteen would build his successful sound eight years later, and the wonder is that he never recorded a version of the song. The Grass Roots never had the respect of the few rock critics of their era and have enjoyed precious little in the decades since from the rock intelligentsia, who resent the group's commercial orientation, but "Let's Live for Today" remains the one record that even the group's detractors respect, however begrudgingly.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Let's Live for Today/Feelings 1967 Repertoire 2:51
No Image 1968
21 Golden Gate Greats (Vol 2) 1969
Various Artists
Take 6 Inc.
No Image 1971 MCA
Summer of Love, Vol. 2: Turn On (Mind Expansion & Signs of the Times) 1987
Various Artists
Rhino 2:49
Classic Rock: 1967 - The Beat Goes On 1988
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:51
Nuggets: Even More Nuggets 1989
Various Artists
Rhino 2:23
No Image 198?
Various Artists
Rhino 2:35
Anthology: 1965-1975 1991 Rhino 2:51
Vintage Collectibles, Vol.  1: 1962-1969 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 3:07
Super Box of Rock, Vol. 3 1995
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 2:45
Hits from 1967 1996
Various Artists
Richmond 2:49
All Time Greatest Hits 1996 MCA
70's Rock [Madacy 1997] 1997
Various Artists
Madacy 2:49
Wild America 1997
Original Soundtrack
Edel America Records / Edeltone 3:05
No Image 1998
Various Artists
KRB
Legends Live: Mark Lindsay & Friends 1999
Various Artists
RKO/Unique Records / RKO 3:11
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:48
Best of the Best [CD/Cassette Single] 2000 Federal Records 2:49
Spirit of the 60's [Madacy 2000] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 2:51
60's: Wild Things 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:51
Classic Rock: Hits of 1967 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:49
A Year In Your Life: 1967, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Definitive 2:51
60's Flower Power 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:51
Greatest Hits [Remember] 2001 Remember Records 2:45
'60s Jukebox 2001
Various Artists
Boca Boys 2:49
Symphonic Hits 2001 Cleopatra 4:29
20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Grass Roots 2001 MCA 2:47
Classic Rock Hits [Dead Line] 2001
Various Artists
Dead Line Music 2:50
Wild Thing [WJS] 2001
Various Artists
Direct Source Special 2:51
Jukebox Hits 1967 [Madacy] 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:49
Rock N' Roll Hits: Golden 1967 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:49
Casey Kasem Presents: America's Top Ten - The 60's Folk Years 2002
Various Artists
Top Sail Productions 2:52
60's Flower Power [Direct Source 2002] 2002
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:51
Best of the 1960's [Direct Source 2005] 2003
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:49
Rock N Roll Reunion 1967 2003
Various Artists
Madacy 2:50
20 Rockin' Hits of the 60's [Disc 4] 2003
Various Artists
Madacy 2:49
Let's Go to San Francisco 2004
Various Artists
Goldies
Gold Collection: Rock 'N' Roll Party 2004
Various Artists
St. Clair 2:48
1960's Happy Days [2004] 2004
Various Artists
Madacy 2:50
20 Best of Rockin' 60's 2004
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:49
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Dominion / K-Tel / K-Tel Distribution 2:46
100 Rockin' Hits of the 60's 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 2:49
Golden Era of the 60's [Bonus DVD] 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 2:49
All 60's! All Hits! 2005
Various Artists
Legacy 2:48
The 60's Pop Classics [Legacy] 2005
Various Artists
Legacy 2:48
Legends: 60's Jukebox Legends 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:47
Ultimate 16: Spirit of the '60s 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 2:51
Golden Legends: The Grass Roots 2006 Madacy 2:50
#1 Hits: 60s Classic Rock 2006
Various Artists
Madacy 2:47
60's Gold 2006
Various Artists
Hip-O / Universal 2:49
20th Century Masters: Best of 60s Rock N Roll 2006
Various Artists
UMVD 2:50
Folk Music: From Roots to Rock 2006
Various Artists
Golden Stars 2:43
Hits of the '60s [Madacy 2006] 2006
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 2:47
No Image 2006
Various Artists
Hits of the 60's [Madacy] 2007
Various Artists
Madacy 2:49
Summer of Love: Hits of 1967 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:48
Summer of Love: Gold 2007
Various Artists
Hip-O 2:46
Flower Power [Time Life Box] 2007
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 2:48
Summer of '67 2008
Various Artists
ZYX Music 2:48
Flower Power [TGG] 2008
Various Artists
TGG 2:48
Happy Days of the 60's  [Madacy 2008] 2008
Various Artists
Madacy 2:48
Tour of Duty: Top 100 2008
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:46
Ultimate 16: Best of the '60s 2012
Various Artists
Sonoma Entertainment 2:50
No Image
Various Artists
X5 2:52
No Image
Various Artists
Awesome Inc. 2:47
Greatest Hits [Evergreen] Evergreen Music Recordings 2:42
No Image
Various Artists
K-Tel 2:46
No Image
Various Artists
Monaco Entertainment Corporation 2:51
No Image
Various Artists
blue highlight denotes editor's pick