The Rocky Movies have given us some of the best music of the past three decades. Bill Conti’s beautiful symphonies of Going The Distance and Gonna Fly Now, Eye Of The Tiger by Survivor, Hearts On Fire by John Cafferty, Take You Back by Sly’s baby brother (Frank Stallone), and No Easy Way Out by Robert Tepper (I’m saving this one for a future article!) Yet of all of the classics we’ve heard in Rocky movies, there is one song that stands out and is one of my top three tunes of all-time. It’s the classic song “Measure Of A Man” by Elton John. Elton John, you wonder? Elton John didn’t ever contribute to a Rocky movie you might be saying. But for those ten of us who enjoyed Rocky V as much as the other movies in the franchise, we all remember the anthem that he belted out over the movie’s end credits. Besides the classic quotes of “Get Up you son of a bitch because Micky loves you” and “You knocked him, why don’t you try knocking me down” as well as the terrible acting of Talia Shire and Tommy Morrison, the final credits were an absolute thrill ride and the best part of the movie. We all thought it was the final closure of the Rocky Saga, but Sly Stallone fooled us all with the sixth film in the series released in 2006.
The Rocky V soundtrack came out in 1990 with little fanfare. Unlike the other Rocky soundtracks featuring the dazzling melodies of Bill Conti or the rock sounds of the 80’s, this soundtrack featured mostly hip hop tunes. The powers that be didn’t even realize they had another possible Top 10 Elton John hit on their hands, and instead released Go For It! by Joey B. Ellis as the first single with no success. A more polished version than what was heard in the theaters did happen to be included on the album, but the soundtrack went out of print very quickly due to the fact that the film was a financial disaster. The song was never released as a single, and was an afterthought after the movie was critically panned. I was dying to grab the song, but it was not included on any Elton John studio album nor his plethora of greatest hits albums. I had to wait ten years to own the song for my collection. When I was first introduced to Napster in 2000, Measure Of A Man was one of the first songs that I immediately downloaded. And I’ve been playing the song on itunes of my iPod at least once a week since. It has also become my wife’s favorite song which of course helps the play count as she usually plays it over and over and over! Capitol Records did reissue the album in 2006 thanks in part to the new Rocky Balboa movie, which made it a little easier to obtain the song. It’s also now easily available for download on itunes. Surprisingly, the Rocky Balboa soundtrack which featured the classics from all six films didn’t even include the Elton John tune!
Measure Of A Man is probably the song that defines my entire life, and I use it when I put together photo montages of my life from birth to the present. Every time I hear the song, I get a tear in my eye. The song has a melody that I’ve never gotten tired of. When I’m old and on my death bed, I need to make sure my family knows to play the tune at my funeral over the final montage ever of me playing on the big screen. Elton John might be best known all of those Top 40 songs like Don’t Go Breaking My Heart, Your Song, Candle In The Wind, and plenty of others. In this music fan’s eyes, I’m thankful for one of Elton’s lesser-known tunes which I think measures up to anything he has ever done. I wouldn’t consider myself an Elton John fan, but I am so grateful for Measure Of A Man. Listen to this song, and I think you’ll agree that it’s a classic song that should have received more accolades. How it didn’t even get nominated for an Academy Award in 1990 is beyond me. I kind of like that it’s a tune that isn’t that mainstream, and something that my brother, my wife, and my friends all share. Although I would love to own it as a ringtone, or be able to sing it during karaoke.
“It’s the fire in the eyes, the light in your hands, that’s the measure of a man!”