Are you trying to make some front page driving news, while you are working on your night moves? If you said yes, then you know exactly what this is about. On October 22nd, 1976, Bob Seger released one of his many successful albums, titled “Night Moves.”
Day, night, afternoon, morning, evening, light out, dark out, no matter what time of day it is, someone will be jamming out to this album. With 8 studio albums under his belt at this point, Seger already had made a name for himself. Once “Night Moves” was released, he found his way into the status of stardom. In 1977 the album would reach no. 8 on the Billboard 200. This is also the first Seger album that was recorded with the Silver Bullet Band.
From this album, the Billboard Hot 100 saw “Night Moves” peak at 4, “Mainstreet” at 24, and “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” at 41.
the Silver Bullet Band consisted of Charlie Allen Martin on drums, Drew Abbott on guitar, Alto Reed on saxophone (alto sax…get it?), Robyn Robbins on keyboards, and Chris Campbell on bass.
In an article on rollingstone.com, Seger is quoted while talking about what he called ‘platinum paranoia.’ He said, “Platinum paranoia…there it is. I feel sorry for Boston and Bruce (Springsteen) and all those guys who are holdin’ out. I know what they’re going through, because I just went through it. It’s not that they’re afraid… they just want it to be good so bad. It’s a matter of whether it’s gonna be worthy of even being heard. You’ve done platinum and now everybody expects you to be a platinum artist, not in marketing, but ability.” With “Night Moves” going platinum and even two of his previous albums, I wouldn’t be surprised if Seger had some ‘platinum paranoia.’
The first two songs from this album define the reason why a rock ‘n roll fan won’t ever forget about this album. They are, “Rock and Roll Never Forget” and the title track “Night Moves.” “Rock and Roll Never Forgets,” is a hard song to forget. It is a song that you will want to dance to, sing along to, and play an invisible instrument to (or learn how to play with an actual instrument).
You better get yourself a partner
Go down to the concert or the local bar
Check the local newspapers
Chances are you won’t have to go too far
Yeah the rafters will be ringing cause the beat’s so strong
The crowd will be swaying and singing along
And all you got to do is get in into the mix
If you need a fix – Lyrics from “Rock and Roll Never Forgets”
Now, what is there not to say about the title track “Night Moves?” Well one thing that can be said is that the song was recorded in Toronto, Canada! In my opinion, “Night Moves” is one of the most iconic Rock ‘n Roll songs to ever exist. From the lyrics, to the music video, to the atmosphere that this song brings to its time period, and how it can relate to any time period, you can’t say no to this song. There’s many songs about love, and “Night Moves” is one of the best. An article from wsj.com (Wall Street Journal) refers to the song as, “a reminiscence of a summer fling.”
An article on mixonline.com mentions a quote from Seger on how the song was about a woman he met through the crowd of people he started to hang around, from being a musician. The same quote from that article also mentions how American Graffiti inspired the song, and the album in general.
Seger was quoted in the same wsj.com article talking about one of the lines, “In there is the line, “Started humming a song from 1962.” The song I was thinking about is “Be My Baby,” sung by Ronnie Spector. I always loved her voice.”
When breaking down more lyrics, this love song is from around his adolescent years, and young adult hormones is essentially what this whole album is centered around.
Lets look at some of the lyrics –
“I was a little to tall, could’ve used a few pounds. Tight pants points hardly renown. She was a black haired beauty with big dark eyes, and points all her own sitting way up high.” – Seger is clearly describing his appearance during these adolescent years in Detroit, and the appearance of the woman he met.
“Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy. Out in the back seat of my ’60 Chevy. Workin’ on mysteries without any clues. Workin’ on our night moves.” – This adolescent man and woman are learning as most people learn while growing up, through trial and error. Meaning, “workin’ on mysteries without any clues.”
The following songs are “Fire Down Below,” and “Sunburst.” It sounds like a ball of fire just burst the sun, and the sun fell down below!!
Anyway, in order to prepare for “Fire Down Below,” get your tambourine skills up, because you might want to play a tambourine of your own while listening. What you’ll notice throughout this album is that majority of the songs are female oriented. In “Fire Down Below” you will find some of the lyrics talking about sexual desire. As this song talks of the night life, one reference made is prostitution. The song gives names of two prostitutes, but hides the identity of the men. “Here comes old Rosie, she’s looking mighty fine. Here comes hot Nancy, she’s steppin’ right on time. There go the street lights bringin on the night. Here come the men, faces hidden from the light.” The line “There go the street lights bringin on the night,” is saying how the street lights turning on, is bringing on the nighttime.
The song later makes reference to money being all you need to guide your ‘fire down below,’ no matter what walk of life you come from. “Here comes the rich man in his big long limousine. Here comes the poor man, all you got to have is green. Here comes the banker and the lawyer and the cop. They got the fire down below.”
With “Sunburst,” the tempo starts slow and will begin to build up. The flute playing off the piano is a relaxing touch to the song.
The smoke begins to rise
A sea of staring eyes
Gaze on the sunburst
His weapon at his side
He flashes it with pride
Before his legions
Fires begin to rage
And they engulf the stage
Bring on the night – Lyrics from “Sunburst”
Moving on brings us to “Sunspot Baby.” The guitar riff, and piano are a nice treat for your ears, when the song opens. But the first verse doesn’t seem to be pleasant for the protagonist of the song!
“She packed up her bags, and she took off down the road. Left me here stranded with the bills she owed. She gave me a false address. Took off with my American Express. Sunspot Baby, she sure had me way outguessed.” Looks like this break up ended badly, and now this woman will be doing a little shopping with that American Express card…
Now verse number two reveals what she did with that American Express card. “She left me here stranded like a dog out in the yard. Charged up a fortune on my credit card. She used my address, and my name. Man that was sure unkind. Sunspot Baby, she sure has a real good time.” Now the question is, does the protagonist catch up? If you want to find out, check out the song below.
“Sunspot Baby” by Bob Seger
After “Sunspot Baby,” the next song, “Mainstreet,” lets you sit back and relax for awhile. The lyrics revolve around a protagonist hanging around a street corner thinking of a dancer by the downtown club.
Well I’d stand outside at closing time
Just to watch her walk on past
Unlike all the other ladies, she looked so young and sweet
As she made her way alone down that empty street
Down on mainstreet – Lyrics from “Mainstreet’
With three songs to go, we have “Come To Pappa.” Instrumentally, it is the opposite of “Mainstreet,” and it also reminds me of “Those Shoes” by Eagles. Except “Come To Poppa,” doesn’t involve the talk box guitar.
Coming down to two songs, “Ship of Fools,” is a steady song with clever lyrics that fit with the title of the song. The lyrics have the song taking place on a ship. The protagonist seems confused, and isn’t on the same page with the crew. By the end of the song, the ship crashes, and the protagonist survives the crash. The song ends with, “I alone survived the sinking, I alone possessed the tools. On that ship of fools.”
All along the fateful coast
We moved silent like a ghost
The timeless sea of tireless host possessed us – Lyrics from “Ship of Fools”
There is an allegory called ‘Ship of Fools,’ and although I am not sure if it inspired this song by Seger, dead.net explains how it did inspire a Grateful Dead song titled “Ship of Fools.”
Last but not least we have a perfect upbeat tune that is a story about “Mary Lou.” This song is identical to “Sunspot Baby” because once again, there is a woman who is using a man for his possessions (although later in the song she does say she is sorry).
I’m gonna tell you a story ’bout Mary Lou
You know the kind of woman make a fool of you
She make a young man itch
make an old man faint
The way she took my money was a crying shame
Mary Lou she took my watch and chain
Mary Lou she took my diamond ring
Mary Lou she took the keys to my cadillac car
Jumped in my kitty and drove off far – Lyrics to “Mary Lou”
With this iconic album now at a close, i’m going to leave you with a fun fact, and a statement. Plus a music video below. “Night Moves” can be found on one of the radios in the video game ‘Grand Theft Auto: V,‘ and if you ask me, this is an album that ‘Rock and Roll Fans Will Never Forget.’
“Night Moves” music video.