From an early age I only knew one Seger tune. The tune made famous by a half-dressed Scientologist sliding across the floor in his parents empty house. The only tune capable of making my Father get out of his chair and dance at a wedding. The only tune that, when played, gives me the vision of thousands of grey-haired retirees filling a dance floor with their slow, robotic dance moves.
The only Bob Seger tune I knew was "Old Time Rock and Roll".
And I hated it.
From the start of the piano riff to the vocals telling you to "get your records down off the shelf" the entire song seemed so "dated." In my early teens Old Time Rock and Roll represented to me an anthem for my parents. It was a battle cry for all those 50-plus people that would never understand Rap, wore clothes designed by Arnold Palmer and considered 60 Minutes required weekly viewing. It was a rock song for old people; and when you are 16 listening to Motley Crue telling you to "Take a Walk on the Wild Side" it was a a little hard on the eardrums for such a music savvy kid as myself.
But, like all things in life; with time comes clarity.
I thought I was a music-savvy kid. Truth is, I was a kid that liked music, but my tastes at the time were very limited. A glace through my CD/tape collection may give you the impression I wore eyeliner and leather pants, played a B.C. Rich Warlock and had a girlfriend I referred to as my Rocket Queen. The truth is I did not have a girlfriend, leather or eyeliner; but I did have a B.C. Rich because that's what C.C. DeVille of Poison played; and yes, it rocked.
This limited taste in music represented the stage my emotions and ears were in at the time. I, like many others in their teen years, had a fantastic, lightning-fast ability to decide in a matter of seconds that I thought something was shit. Chalk that pompous attitude up to youth. Seger was to me what swing music was to a new Beetle fan. Seger was the faded tape in my parents' car that got played on long trips prompting me to throw on my black-foam headphones of my walk-man and tune out. In the years I spent with musical blinders on I placed Seger in a category of three artists that I could not stand for various reasons. This list was as follows (now remember, before you react with the staple response of "How do you not like....?!" I will show you how time has altered my opinions on said artists).
1. James Taylor
17 year old Me - His voice is so nasally. He sounds like vanilla ice cream. Sorry James, you don't got a friend in me.
38 year old me - Probably one of the greatest tones of any singer. Proves the true power of a songwriter and a guitar.
2. Van Morrison
17 year old me - Moon-dance is like bad Jazz, but worse. It sounds like the background music for a Scooby Doo villain.
39 year old me - His voice is an instrument. Astral Weeks may be in my hand one day as I bake in the sun on a desert island.
and the 3rd artist I could not stand was the man from Michigan.
3. Bob Seger
17 year old- see above
38 year old me - Let me explain....
Since Seger's music had such a small sample size to my ears it was hard for me to connect. As stated, I hated that Old Time Rock and Roll tune the moment I heard it and being a stubborn teenager my opinion on him was as solid as your chance on finding rolling papers at a Phish concert. But with time I began to appreciate his songs, understand what he was singing about and, dare I say it, connect with his music. I began to dismiss my early frustrations with his songwriting always being about love, loss and having a party - and started to realize that in life, we will all experience the first two, so why not have the third.
His music can be everything good music should be. Confident -- Someday Lady You'll Accompany Me. Reflective -- Turn the Page. Fun -- Ramblin' Gamblin' Man. Proud- Like a Rock and dirty Night Moves. This list could go on and on because his tunes encapsulate all of the great emotions that go into that intoxicating cocktail we call Rock and Roll.
Seger's tunes were working man anthems from the heart of the Motor City. Much like his musical comrade Bruce Springsteen, he was our 'musical cinematographer' of Americas natural beauty and the dusty road houses that lined I-95. Drifters, lost souls, nervous lovers and hustlers played crucial roles in all of his lyrics which left us wondering how one finds themselves on "that long and lonesome highway, east of Omaha" or who exactly was was Uncle Joe? And why was he so afraid to cut the cake?
These tunes now frequent my turntable at home (yes, now I am the one taking those records down off the shelf). These songs have become staples around the campfire on cottage weekends. Amateur rock stars strum their guitars, pausing for the sound of thunder and that last chord of Night Moves to hang in the night sky. Much like when you took a sip of your Dad's coffee when you were little and cringed claiming you will never drink that bitter, rocket-fuel. Never say never. Because sometimes the last thing you want in your youth, in your later years, may be the first thing you need .
So I confess. I am a changed man. I have grown up and am now at an age where I can admit my misguided opinions. I want to apologize to my Father for getting off that folding chair at the wedding and dancing with Mom to "Old Time Rock and Roll". I want to say sorry to my friends who attempted to show me the greatness of Seger, only to have their pleas fall on my deaf ears. I regret not allowing his songs to enter my life earlier, so I could have more connections between his music and my own life experiences. Finally to Mr. Seger himself I want to apologize.
I don't know how to fully express to you how sorry I am for finding your music so late in life,
Wish I didn't know know
What I didn't know then.