The Grass Roots

Let's Live for Today

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 1967 MCA 2:35
No Image 1968
21 Golden Gate Greats (Vol 2) 1969
Various Artists
Take 6 Inc.
No Image 1971 MCA
Greatest Hits, Vol. 1 1987 MCA 2:45
Nuggets: Even More Nuggets 1989
Various Artists
Rhino 2:23
No Image 198?
Various Artists
Rhino 2:35
Vintage Collectibles, Vol.  1: 1962-1969 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 3:07
All Time Greatest Hits 1996 MCA
70's Rock [Madacy 1997] 1997
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 0:00
Wild America 1997
Original Soundtrack
Edel America Records / Edeltone 3:05
Back to Back 1999 Dominion / K-Tel Distribution 2:48
No Image 1999
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 2:48
Spirit of the 60's [Madacy 2000] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 2:51
60's: Wild Things 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:51
1967 Classic Rock 2000
Various Artists
Direct Source 2:50
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
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
Let's Go to San Francisco 2004
Various Artists
Goldies 2:42
Golden Era of the 60's [Bonus DVD] 2005
Various Artists
Madacy 2:49
No Image
Various Artists