10 Essential Grass Roots Songs

The Grass Roots Songs

Photo: ABC / Dunhill Records [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Our 10 Essential Songs from The Grass Roots looks at a band that had great success on the pop music charts in the late 1960s and early 1970s. If you were alive during that time, no matter what age you were, you would probably be humming a Grass Roots song like “Sooner Or Later” or “Midnight Confession” at one point. The Grass Roots developed out of the songwriting team of P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri. The two recruited a San Francisco band to join them in recording the first Grass Roots Album entitled Where Were You When I Needed You. The lineup on the album consisted of P.F. Sloan, Steve Barri, Willie Fulton, and Joel Larson.

The Grass Roots returned in 1967 with the release of the album Let’s Live For Today. However, it was an entirely different band consisting of Creed Bratton, Rick Coonce, Warren Entner, and Rob Grill. Original members P.F. Sloan and Steve Barri were still a major part of the group as they composed most of the songs and co-produced the album.  One year later, in 1968, The Grass Roots released their third studio album, Feelings

After only their third studio album release, The Grass Roots’ record company, Dunhill Records, released a greatest hits album. The album featured the hit “Midnight Confession,” previously released as a non-album single. The song went on to become their highest-charting song.

The band’s fourth album, Lovin’ Things, was released in 1969. Later that same year, the group released the album Leaving It All Behind. Only a year later, The Grass Roots released their second greatest hits album, More Golden Grass. Dunhill Records followed up More Golden Grass with another greatest hit package entitled The Grass Roots Their 16 Greatest Hits. The success of the album Their 16 Greatest Hits was fueled by the inclusion of the single-only release, “Sooner or Later.” For the average music fan growing up in the 1970s, if you had one Grass Roots album, it was probably Their 16 Greatest Hits.

After the incredible success of the single “Sooner Or Later” and the greatest hits package, The Grass Roots released their sixth studio album in 1972 entitled Move Along.  The Grass Roots would only release two more studio albums, one in 1975 entitled The Grass Roots, followed seven years later by Powers of the Night in 1982. Neither of those albums charted with any success.

While The Grass Roots had been born out of the songwriting team of P.F. Sloan and  Steve Barri, the face of the group had always been their lead singer, Rob Grill. For years, Rob Grill would put together a band of musicians and tour under the name The Grass Roots. Sadly, Rob Grill passed away in 2011. However, former musicians who have spent time in The Grass Roots over the years continue to tour and appear in oldies shows worldwide.

Our Top 10 Grass Roots Songs list is a subjective list of songs presenting some of their biggest hits with lesser-known songs. If you don’t know this band, our 10 Essential Songs from The Grass Roots will make you a fan.

# 10 – The Runaway

The Grass Roots song “The Runaway” was released on the band’s 1972 album Move Along. It was the band’s last top 40 hit. This is a great one. The song’s minor chord progression is augmented by a killer horn section that opens its arms for Rob Grill’s incredible vocals.

# 9 – I’m Livin’ For You Girl

The song “I’m Livin’ For You Girl” was released on the 1969 album Leaving It All Behind. It was the album’s opening track. Harvey Price and Dan Walsh wrote it. The song was never released as a single. This one smacks you in the face from the opening bell, horns blasting, drums kicking, and a soulful groove, letting you know what it’s all about.

# 8 – Love Is What You Make It

“Love Is What You Make It” was released on the 1973 album Alotta’ Mileage. It was perhaps one of the greatest years in classic rock history, with so many different types of musical artists, from Three Dog Night to Led Zeppelin to Pink Floyd to Neil Diamond, all releasing incredible music.

# 7 – Where Were You When I Needed You

If you were breathing in the 1960s or 1970s, chances are, no matter your age, you heard these following seven songs. “Where Were You When I Needed You” was the song that started it all for the Grass Roots. The song was released in 1966 on the album of the same name.

# 6 – Two Divided By Love

The great Grass Roots song “Two Divided By Love” was released on the Move Along album in 1971. The song reached the Billboard Top 20, peaking at number 16. It’s one of those great songs that opens with the song’s chorus as it immediately grabs your attention.

# 5 – Temptation Eyes

As we reach the top five section of our Essential Grass Roots Songs list, we turn to a huge fan favorite. The excellent track “Temptation Eyes” was issued on the band’s second greatest hits album, More Golden Grass. In 1970, “Temptation Eyes” reached number 15 on the Billboard Top 100.

# 4 – Wait A Million Years

“Wait A Million Years,” and its driving, passionate chorus, was another massive hit for the band. The song was released on the Leaving It All Behind album in 1973. Like “Temptation Eyes,” the song “Wait A Million Years” reached number 15 on the Billboard Top 100. The Grass Roots’ success on the charts in 1969 was pretty impressive because of the competition from bands like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Doors, and many other great bands releasing incredible music that year.

# 3 – Let’s Live For Today

Who could ever forget the legendary chorus of “Let’s Live For Today?” The song was issued on the Let’s Live For Today album in 1967. It broke into the Billboard top 10, peaking at number eight. Opening the song was that very cool guitar lick, followed by that mesmerizing vocal by Rob Grill.

# 2 – Midnight Confessions

It was challenging to choose between the following two songs for the top spot on our Essential Songs from The Grass Roots list. If we decided by chart success, “Midnight Confession” would get the nod as it was their highest charting song, reaching the number 5 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1968. Still, that turned out not to be the way we decided.

# 1 – Sooner or Later

While the song “Midnight Confession” charted higher than “Sooner Or Later,” it’s the latter that we remember most about this great band. “Sooner Or Later” did have success as it was a top 10 hit, peaking at number 9. Nonetheless, the song has one of the most memorable choruses from 1970s pop culture. Doesn’t this song bring back so many memories?

Many musicians were included in the creation of this wonderful track, between the vocalist of the Grass Roots and the musicians of the Wrecking Crew. Players and vocalists on the track included The Grass Roots  Rob Grill and Warren Entner, handling both lead and backing vocals, while Creed Bratton and Rick Coonce provided additional backing vocals. They had Ben Benay and Mike Deasy on electric guitar, while Carol Kaye handled the bass lines. Don Randi played piano, and Larry Knechtel the organ. The percussion section included the legedanryHal Blaine on drums and Emil Richards on additional percussion. Plas Johnson further enriched the track’s sound on saxophone. The brass section included John Audino, Bud Childers, and Tony Terran on trumpet, complemented by Richard Hyde, Harold Diner, and Edward Kusby on trombone.

10 Essential Grass Roots Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2024

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