Bob Seger – My Life In His Own Words

Bob Seger performs on stage at Hammersmith Odeon, London, on 22nd October 1977. (Photo by Gus Stewart/Redferns)

Bob Seger – Singer/Song Writer/Performer

My hero…in his own words:

Robert (Bob) Clark Seger was born in the same hospital I was, only a few years prior to me, and became a devote Detroit Red Wings hockey fan, too.  It’s funny, but everyone says they’re from Detroit, but it is just a reference point.  Bob Seger grew up in nearby Ann Arbor, while I was just an hour away in another suburb of Detroit, Livonia.

Detroit was the breakthrough home for much of the birth of Rock ‘N’ Roll.  There were two distinct flavors of music pouring out of Detroit in the late 1960’s; Motown’s Hitsville U.S.A; with famous artists like:  The Supremes, The Miracles, The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson 5!

But Detroit also became an integral slice of the Rock ‘N’ Roll history including such artists as:  Bill Haley & The Comets, Del Shannon, Ted Nugent, Glenn Fry (the Eagles), Mitch Ryder, Alice Cooper, and Grand Funk Railroad.

I grew up listening in my room and car to both, AM and FM radio back then, enjoying Pop and Rock music.  But then I began to listen to the music and lyrics of Bob Seger…and my life began to lean in a different direction.

While Seger has sold over 50 million records over his 50-year career, he continues to tour selling out arena venues across the country.  His live shows are legendary, especially those at Detroit’s own Cobo Hall where he sells out multiple shows in a row.  

Many artists have performed his song about being on the road, including Garth Brooks who has claimed Seger’s “Turn the Page”, the ultimate road anthem.

“Out there in the spotlight, you’re a million miles away,
Every ounce of energy you try to give away,
As the sweat pours out your body like the music that you play
There I go again,
Turn the page”

I have seen Bob Seger in concert 8 times over my life, once when my wife was 8 months pregnant!  When a Bob Seger concert is over, you are drained leaving nothing left in the tank.

In addition to his lively shows, he has written songs that have appeared in 35 movies, most notable; Risky Business (Old Time Rock n’ Roll) and Forrest Gump (Against the Wind).  He has written and recorded 18 albums.  He has been inducted into the Rock ‘N’ Roll and the Song Writer’s Halls of Fame.

But that is not why he is my hero.  He has written, sung, and played the soundtrack of my life for over 40 years.  I started riding motorcycles from a young age – he told me why. 

He knew right then he was too far from home,

I headed out to my big two-wheeler,

…I was tired of my own voice

With the typical insecurities every teenager could have, I could relate to the lyrics of Bob Seger:

He’s your oldest and your best friend
If you need him, he’ll be there again

Where you gonna fall
When you realize, you just can’t have it all

Read it on the wall
And realize,

You just can’t have it all

I needed a lullaby to sing to my babies after becoming a young father.  The problem was, I didn’t know any.  So, I made one up from a Seger song that I remembered from 1972.  My children would say almost every night, “Daddy, sing me like a young man.”  I have also sang it to my grandchildren whenever I had the chance:

He wants to dream like a young man

With the wisdom of an old man

He’s your oldest and your best friend
If you need him, he’ll be there again

He’s always willing to be second-best
A perfect lodger, a perfect guest

You can try, but you can’t have it all

Never take it all
‘Cause it’s easier
And faster when you fall

You just don’t need it all

Beautiful loser

Inspiring Rock ‘N’ Roll, thoughtful lyrics, life lessons learned, great music and reflective rhymes.  His voice fills a song with just the right amount of emotion to help bring it – alive.

But it wasn’t just the lyrics.  Sometimes his music rocked my house, and I couldn’t play it loud enough.  Other times I let the well-crafted ballads draw me in.  But first and foremost, he was Rock ‘N Roll.

Just take those old records off the shelf
I’ll sit and listen to ’em by myself
Today’s music ain’t got the same soul
I like that old-time rock ‘n’ roll

Rock ‘n Roll Never Forgets!

Over 40 years later, some things never change.  I still lean on his music that brought me thus far.  Most of life’s adventures can truly be called “Little Victories”

                        Breaking all the rules that would bend

I’m older now but still runnin’ against the wind

Twenty years now
where’d they go?
Twenty years
I don’t know
I sit and I wonder sometimes
Where they’ve gone

As you struggle through each day,
Each strange new day
Feelin’ lost and wounded, tryin’ hard to find your way
No one there to talk it out with,
Learnin’ how to sleep alone

Day by day, minute by minute
Little victories

If you are lucky enough to meet that stranger that becomes your life partner, no matter what trials you may have to face, Bob Seger is there to help pull you along with his music:

We weren’t lovers, just brave strangers

We were young and strong, we were runnin’
against the wind

Dreams die hard and we watch them erode
But we cannot be denied
The fire inside

In 1968, there was a special band that played at one of my high school’s sock hop dances.  When Bob Seger took the small stage in our gymnasium, the students went crazy.  Not too many kids can claim that Bob Seger played at their high school!

When Bob Seger takes the stage at one of his concerts, there is are no opening acts – no smoke, pyro-technics, or swinging from the rafters…just a man playing his guitar, wearing black jeans, a simple tee-shirt, and a pair of tennis shoes;  joined by his “Silver Bullet” band.

            – His music and his voice are all the audience expects – and needs –

Sometimes Bob Seger’s genius lies in what he sings between the lyrics and the subtle instrumentation he slips in where most people miss.  Every song has slight piano/guitar/percussion riffs that complete the message he is sharing, like the background voices at the end of “Night Moves” or the piano chords that make “The Fire Inside” so driving.  Little extra drumbeats, almost hidden within “Roll Me Away.”

The first time I listened to Live Bullet in the privacy of my own headphones back in 1976, it made me break out in a sweat starting with “Travlin’ Man/Beautiful Loser!”, still my all-time favorite.   

I leave you with the lyrics from one of my absolute favorite Bob Seger songs. It simply says what I hope that everyone I have ever met, will write on my life story – in indelible ink.

Sometimes at night, I see their faces
I feel the traces they left on my soul,
Those are the memories that made me a wealthy soul
Those are the memories that made me a wealthy soul

If I ever have the chance to meet him…I will simply thank him for sharing with me the music of my life.

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I've been married for 40 years with 3 children and 7 grandchildren. I spent my 45 year career in the grocery retailing industry, from bagging groceries to president of a customer dedicated national food brokerage company. I enjoy golfing, cooking, writing, all kinds of music, and more importantly watching my grandchildren thrive, especially in education and sports.

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