Friday, June 11, 2010

A Bob Seger Friday Night

Bob Seger is a blues based rock act from Michigan. The man bleeds blue collar Midwestern America. He was huge in Detroit first back when Detroit rocked. His discography is crammed with rock classics. Looking at his peak years, it is kind of funny to see how he was such a contrast to the disco, new wave, synth pop, punk genres. He was not stadium rock or rock opera like the Who and Led Zep. I enjoy his music and think a bunch of his tunes stand up today, not acting like a timestamp.

No matter when he was recorded, 1972 or 1992, the guy sounded the same. He had an old raspy soulful voice and it held up well. he could rock hard like on "Strut" and play it soft as he did with "We've got Tonight". He was magnificant live. His "Live Bullet" album is one of the best selling and best sounding live albums I've ever heard. The key is how strong his voice was. From that "Live Bullet" album, two rock station staples "Turn the Page" and "Travelin' Man/Beautiful Loser" are ripped from there. I've never heard the studio versions of those songs, and don't need to because the live versions are so clear and fantastic. He sounds like he means it.

Reading the lyrics, he probably does mean it. He's a Michigan guy who lived through the peak and decline. He wrote about heartache, taking to the road, living hard, working hard, but partying harder, fighting for what you could get, and growing up. He wrote about life. His songs commonly strike that nostalgia chord or are look back songs. "Night Moves", "Main St", "Like a Rock", and "Against the Wind" all have that frame story narrative. It is effective as it gets younger listeners to identify with the mental imagery of the story, but the point of view allows older listeners to play remember when. Considering the similar time periods involved, he's like a Midwestern Springsteen.



His greatest hits album has some small stories in the liner notes for each song. I loved seeing how the back up singers for "Night Moves" were from Quebec. This explains why they sing it "Night Move" and drop the 's'. The fact that he signed away the rights for 'Old time rock n roll' cost him millions as he notes that it was a giant jukebox hit (only behind Patsy Cline's 'Crazy'). You can learn the drum track for "Hollywood Nights" is actually 2 drum tracks layered or that "Weve' got Tonight" was inspired by the scene from "The Sting" where Redford propositions the waitress by saying 'its 2 in the morning and I don't know nobody'. I love the little nuggets of inspiration, creation and collaboration.

I've told my wife if I ever died young and she had to arrange my funeral, that she should use a funeral playlist of my choosing, instead of letting the place play that creepy mood music. I remember crafting up a list a few years back and Seger is there. I'd want people to hear something and think of me or a specific memory, not the everyday creepiness that most funerals have. Seger would put people at ease. I have memories of working on my night moves at a drive in. The Saco Drive In was a rite of passage. I am a gambler and striver like the subject of "Still the Same". The songs speak to me, and that's what I want with music. I want to hear it and feel it and Bob Seger manages to reach me. Thank you Bob Seger. I'm off to drink a beer in your honor.

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