(reconstituted and reheated from January 2009)
I’ve never really been one of those music fans who take offense to artists who license their songs for use in commercials. I wouldn’t consider myself such a purist, believing Melt With You helping to entice me to want a burger devalues the song.
I’ve also been blessed with a superhuman ability to, for the most part, tune out commercials.
(working in record stores during one’s formative years will nurture skills in selective listening).
And, recently, I’ve been strangely, unexpectedly compelled to snag half a dozen albums by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band. They were in excellent condition and none was more than a dollar – not even the double, live album Nine Tonight.
Purchasing them was surprising (or maybe not) as I’ve never owned anything by Seger in my life on any format despite growing up in the Midwest where he was staple. I knew his hits and even some album tracks from radio and the bowling alley jukebox.
(you know, I wonder if in some parallel universe I was a better bowler and ended up The Dude)
So, I was familiar with a chunk of Seger’s work. My best friend in junior high played his older brother’s eight tracks of the stuff relentlessly. There were songs of Seger’s which I thought were good, but I kind of shelved him with Johnny Hoosier as likable and workman-like but not having the spiritual, transcendent kick of Springsteen.
As I’ve listened to my trove of Seger the past few weeks, I’ve been surprised to realize how much of it I do like. I’m still not elevating him to Springsteen status, but he does now occupy a zone for me as slightly more than erstwhile heartland rocker.
And I was puzzled as to why I’d been rather ambivalent toward him.
Then, I remembered that damned truck commercial with Like A Rock playing and the incalculable number of times I must have been subjected to it, particularly during football season. I had to wonder if, somehow, subconsciously, the use of that song had caused me to dismiss Seger’s entire catalog.
I still have no issue with an artist making some coin through licensing their songs but maybe such a move is a bit more insidious that I’ve believed.
Here are four songs by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, all of which I heard on the radio plenty in the early ’80s when I was first discovering music…
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Fire Lake
from Against The Wind (1980)
Fire Lake was Bob Seger & The Bullet Band’s current hit during the spring of 1980 when I was first becoming interested enough in music to turn on the radio. It was one of half a dozen songs from Against The Wind that I’d hear on one station or another over the next year.
And, as we were in the Midwest, there were another half dozen Seger hits from the ’70s that were radio staples – a decade or more before true classic rock stations – that you would hear more days than not.
But the one song from the band that I’ve never tired of is Fire Lake. I was in junior high when the song was a Top Ten hit and the whole “bronze beauties/lying in the sun” slant brought to life some kind of Midwestern Valhalla for bikers in my head.
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – You’ll Accomp’ny Me
from Against The Wind (1980)
One of the most popular places for kids to hang out in our small town was the bowling alley. On weekend afternoons during the winter, the place was packed.
My buddy and neighbor Will was quite smitten with Kim that winter and every time I’d hear You’ll Accomp’ny Me coming from the jukebox, I was fairly certain his quarter was the one that had conjured it.
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Shame On The Moon
from The Distance (1983)
Even though our town was fewer than four-thousand people, we did have a radio station. By the time Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band released The Distance, the station had flipped from soft rock and light Top 40 to country.
I would hear the rootsy Shame On The Moon, written by Rodney Crowell, during breakfast on the kitchen radio which would be tuned to the local station. And I wanted nothing to do with country music at the time.
So, by association, I wanted nothing to do with the wistful Shame On The Moon when it came on the rock stations I favored at the time. Over the years, though, I’ve grown to appreciate the song’s loping melody and introspective lyric.
Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – Understanding
from Teachers soundtrack (1984)
Understanding wasn’t from a new Seger album when it was a hit in late 1984. Instead, the song appeared on the soundtrack for the movie Teachers. My friends and I caught the flick while skipping school one day.
Ironically, the movie was about the poor state of the American educational system. Of course, the fictional school in Teachers did hire Nick Nolte as a teacher and enroll Ralph Macchio and Crispin Glover as students, so what did they expect?