The Meaning Behind “Groovin'” by The Young Rascals and How It Was Influenced by the Big Apple

When The Young Rascals released their third album Groovin’ in the summer of 1967 they had already scored two Gold albums that hit the Top 20. They had landed the No. 1 hit “Good Lovin’,” originally recorded by the Olympics. They also scored two Top 20 singles, “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long” and “You Better Run,” a song that would later become a hit for Pat Benatar at the dawn of the ’80s. But change was in the wind, and it was a positive, forward-thinking change.

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The Young Rascals’ third album Groovin’ spawned the No. 1 hit of the same name. The entire collection brought in some different influences to their rock sound, taking their blue-eyed soul vibes and imbuing them with Latin, jazz, and psychedelic influences. Perhaps appropriately enough, this would be the last album where the band would be known as The Young Rascals, simply changing their name to The Rascals with their acclaimed fourth album in 1968, Once Upon a Dream.

Hooked on a Feeling

Buoyed by the monster success of the title track and two other Top 10 hits on the collection, Groovin’ was the band’s biggest success thus far. “Groovin’” the song, with its laid back, feel-good vibes, was a sweet success for co-lead singers Felix Cavaliere and Eddie Brigati, who penned the tune themselves.

The song was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. Speaking to Grammy.com years later, co-lead singer Brigati recalled how it all came together. He said that different people’s recollections varied, but he remembers that Cavaliere told him he could not write lyrics. So Brigati would then ask him what he would call a new composition. In this case, his bandmate succinctly replied, “Groovin’.”

“And he was right,” Brigati told Grammy.com. “That was what it sounded like.” At the time, The Young Rascals were staying in a Midtown Manhattan hotel located right above the Copacabana nightclub. Now gone, this was the same venue where Bon Jovi’s band would do a showcase for their future label, PolyGram. “You’d go out your door, and you’d walk down the block, and there was Central Park,” Brigatti recalled. “So you were on a crowded avenue. And you were doing anything you wanted to do, being anyone you wanted to be.”

I can’t imagine anything that’s better
The world is ours whenever we’re together
There ain’t a place I’d like to be instead of
Movin’ down a crowded avenue
Doin’ anything we like to do

Dual Inspiration

Brigati said he came up with 23 verses that he were lost in the band’s archives. They were still there, but nobody knew exactly where. Cavaliere offered some ideas of things happening in his personal life, and Brigati was “writing about what was surrounding me, where I was. We took one or two of those verses, and we linked another verse to it, and then my brother David [Brigati, lead singer of Joey Dee & The Starliters] came in and sang harmonies, which lent a lot to it.”

In a 2017 interview with Songwriter Universe, Cavaliere confirmed their songwriting approach: “Basically, I wrote the titles of the songs and the music for the songs, and I gave Eddie a good template, and he filled in the verses. I did the choruses and the titles, but I felt he was better at telling the stories verbally than I was.”

Of his own inspiration for the song, Cavaliere recalled: “Musicians work primarily on Friday and Saturday nights. And when you have a romantic situation, [working weekends] kind of interferes with everybody else’s schedule who are not musicians. They usually have Friday and Saturday off. So Sunday afternoon is the only time I can be with my significant other. I just felt like … I’m gonna write a song to make amends for the fact that we’re always busy on weekends. So [I wrote the line] ‘Groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon.’ It was really interesting. … A lot of people relate to that in different ways, like a day off, picnics. But that’s what it was.”

Groovin’ Up the Charts

“Groovin’” became The Young Rascals’ second No. 1 hit, and at 53 million Spotify streams has doubled the take of “Good Lovin’.” Over a year later they would land their third and final No. 1 hit with the original “People Got to Be Free”. The band managed to go through a solid five-album run (four of them going Gold), but then their popularity waned even though some critics praised subsequent efforts. Their seventh album Search and Nearness was the last to feature Brigati and guitarist Gene Cornish. Cavaliere still tours with his own version of The Rascals.

They certainly left a lasting legacy. The Rascals were inducted by Steven Van Zandt into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 1997. “Groovin’” was inducted into the Grammy Hall Of Fame in 1999. The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2005.

Cavaliere and Brigati were inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame in 2009. The band reunited for a limited run, career-spanning Broadway show called Once Upon a Dream in 2012 that also toured the U.S. in 2013. The hit has been featured in many different movies including Tower Heist, Pirate Radio, Apollo 13, and The Lost Boys.

Groovin’ indeed.

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Photo by Don Paulsen/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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