Thursday, November 26, 2009

IN PRAISE OF BOB SEGER

Honk if you wouldn't have pegged me as a Bob Seger fan.

But I am. Big time. We almost share a birthday. His is May 6, one day before mine.

Yesterday, I stumbled across the Bob Seger section of my iPod and decided to indulge in some sweet memories. The first thing that surprised me was how many great songs he recorded, many more than I had remembered: "Against The Wind," "In Your Time," "Mainstreet," "Turn The Page," "American Storm," and the list goes on and on and on... Twenty-plus years on, his blend of country, R&B and old time rock & roll holds up surprisingly well.

After I did a bit of online research, the second surprise was how huge Bob Seger (with and without the Silver Bullet Band) was in his late-'70s/early '80s heyday. I'd never even realized that he'd been inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004, along with Jackson Browne, George Harrison, Prince, Traffic and ZZ Top. This post is just in time for the release of Early Seger Vol. 1, a compilation of out-of-print and previously unreleased music that came out yesterday. Since Bob is reaching back, I will, too. Here are my five favorite Bob Seger singles.

5. "Understanding" (from the Teachers soundtrack, 1984) "Now suddenly I look around/And everything looks new/I don't know why, but I think I'm startin' to learn" The first song in the Bob Seger section of my iPod. Listening to it, I realized that more than any other artist I can think of at the moment, his discography provides the perfect soundtrack for the lives of men of a certain age (my age).

4. "Shakedown" (from the Beverly Hills Cop II soundtrack, 1987) "It's ok to want to shine/But once you step across that line/No matter where you hide I'm comin' after you" Unique in so many ways. His only No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100, it's the only non-ballad on my list and the most straightforward pop single Bob ever released. Fun fact. It was originally intended for Glenn Frey, who suggested Bob as a replacement when Glenn lost his voice and couldn't make the recording session.

3. "Fire Lake" (from Against the Wind, 1980) "Who wants to take that long shot gamble/And head out to fire lake?" I do! Probably the least well-known of B0b's seven Top 10 singles. Essential.

2. "Shame On The Moon" (from The Distance, 1982) "Some men go crazy/Some men go slow/Some men go just where they want/Some men never go" An elegant contemplation on being alone with everybody -- or something -- written by the great Rodney Crowell.

1. "Still The Same" (from Stranger In Town, 1978) "You always said/The cards would never do you wrong/The trick you said/Was never play the game too long" Probably the first Bob Seger song I ever heard and the finest amalgam of his three musical reference points: rock, country and red-hot rhythm & blues.

Bob Seger "Still The Same" (Live 1978)

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