Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Are Finally Rocking the Cloud

I just learned yesterday that Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band’s music was finally being made available on streaming services other than Pandora. This makes me way happier than it should make any adult.

To understand why I guess you’d need to know that Seger was a staple in my early childhood, both in the car during road trips and in the garage of my childhood home where my dad would work on his motorcycles every weekend. Seger was present enough that I vividly remember (repeatedly) declaring him to be my favorite artist when I was between the ages of about 5 and 8.

And unlike most of the “favorite” artists and bands that I’ve had since then, my love for Seger has not faded in any significant way.

So, with that in mind, here are my five favorite Bob Seger songs:

 

5. Roll Me Away

Released in 1983 on the album The Distance. It combines two of the major tropes seen in many of Seger’s songs–traveling along the open roads of the country, and two ships passing in the night–to create a metaphor for the search for meaning in life.

Roll, roll me away,
I’m gonna roll me away tonight
Gotta keep rollin, gotta keep ridin’,
Keep searchin’ till I find what’s right

Listen to it here:

 

4. Hollywood Nights

Released in 1978 on the album Stranger in Town (which you should just listen to in its entirety, really). Hollywood Nights is a song about a man out of his element and in over his head. According to Seger he was inspired by both driving through the hills of Hollywood and by a Time magazine with Cheryl Tiegs on the cover, “I said ‘Let’s write a song about a guy from the Midwest who runs into someone like this and gets caught up in the whole bizarro thing.'”

That “bizarro thing” being his (the viewpoint character of the song’s) attraction and fling with both a beautiful woman and the city of Los Angeles.

Listen to it here:

 

3. Feel Like A Number

Released in 1978 on the album Stranger in Town (seriously, just listen to the whole thing). It’s a simple song about feeling lost in the greater world. The first half of the song focuses on the aspects of society that seem to dehumanize a person and force conformity.

I feel like just another
Spoke in a great big wheel
Like a tiny blade of grass
In a great big field

The second half deal with the feelings of ostracization that well up as a result of these societal factors.

Gonna cruise out of this city
Head down to the sea
Gonna shout out at the ocean
Hey it’s me

Listen to it here:

 

2. Night Moves

Released in 1976 on the album Night Moves. Night Moves is a song with a double meaning. One meaning relates to the obvious sexual connotations of the title and the refrain “working on the night moves.” But another meaning is explored later in the song when Seger reflects on the way “the night moves with Autumn closing in” and we realize that his earlier reflection on summertime night moves were the memories of an older man looking back on his younger, freer days.

Listen to it here:

 

1. The Fire Inside

Released in 1991, on the album The Fire Inside. The titular song is, in my opinion, the most poetic of all of Seger’s songs. It’s one of Seger’s longer songs. Seger reportedly said of the song: “It was a very long song, it was a very difficult track to get because it’s 6 minutes long and the band had to cook, kinda in a Muscle Shoals way, but I wanted it more rock and roll, I wanted more snap to it. But it’s difficult to keep up that energy for six minutes. I mean to keep it steady and humming, because you’re telling this very, very intricate story. That was a pistol, getting that track.”

The song itself tells a story in three parts. I’m tempted to break it down piece by piece and analyze the whole thing… in fact I started too. But I’m holding myself back and will instead give you the short version. [Update: and now that I’m done writing, I can say that I did, indeed, give you the short version… but it’s not short. Sorry.]

The first set of verses deal with a person (of unknown gender) making their way through the streets at night towards midtown and the “neon promises” of the bars and clubs there–the person first passes the dark realities of the world that surround that destination, and then through the crowds of peoples that are either leaving or arriving at the bars. They find comfort and safety in the crowd, but they also feel vulnerable as they search through that crowd and are in turn searched by the crowd–everyone looking for something that is never quite specified and all being driven by “the fire inside.”

The second act deals with what’s happening in the bar in a larger sense. Everyone has their own problems, but once the lights turn low those problem fade away as the patrons fade in to each other and pretend that everything is alright. But ultimately that safety and warmth is shattered when the lights come on and people leave to go on their way and continue their search.

Now up until this point the beat has been fast and driven, with a loud kick drum thumping away like a heartbeat throughout the entire song. But now we come to the final act and that kick drum fades out, as the narrative snaps back to the point-of-view character later in the night. They lie awake in bed listening to the sounds of a man that’d they’d brought home dressing and leaving. Suddenly the kick drum comes back into the song, slower than before, as the person gets up and travels to their window to look out into the night. The kick drum comes back to the original tempo as a sudden realization hits them:

And it comes to you how it all slips away
Youth and beauty are gone one day
No matter what you dream or feel or say
It ends in dust and disarray

Like wind on the plains, sand through the glass
Waves rolling in with the tide
Dreams die hard and we watch them erode

This is quintessential Seger, a song that tells a fairly simple story, usually about love or attraction or just raw lust, but then his songs (at least for me) have a way of evoking deeper emotions like longing, isolation, and despair–this one in a more unconcealed way than others, but it’s what the song does next that I love. Somehow he beats those bitter, dark emotions back with a sudden rush of energy that comes through and makes you realize that you just need to keep going. And he does it with two lines that come right after the ones above:

But we cannot be denied
The fire inside

Those lines are followed by a repetition of the lines “the fire inside” and “burning you up” so whether or not there’s actually any happiness in that ending is up to your interpretation–but what there is, is a need to keep going.

What is the fire inside? Well, what is it for you? Let us know in the comments.

Listen to it here:

 

Also, my daughter heard The Fire Inside and immediately loved it, but she told me that it reminded her of a story where there’s a fire in a house and a cat died from all the smoke. I’m not sure where she heard this story, as she’s four years old, or why a song that reminds her of that is something she likes… Good news though, apparently the cat’s owner started petting it and the cat enjoyed that (despite having previously been dead), so I guess like the song the cat also had some energy left to go on.

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