Archive | Feb 26, 2015

Certain Songs #118:  Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band – “Night Moves”


Album: Night Moves.

Year: 1976.

Because Punk Rock came along and rendered his roots-rock almost instantly critically obsolete almost the second he starting lobbing hit singles into the Top 40, and because his licensing of “Like a Rock” to Chevy for a hundred million truck commercials felt like “selling out” in the worst way, guys like me have tended to underrate Bob Seger over the years.

I’m guessing that’s not the case now, though, given that all of those concerns are pretty much moot here in the 21st century, and Bob Seger doesn’t seem all that different from contemporaries like Bruce Springsteen or Tom Petty to the younger folk who even bother with 70s rock at all.

And then again, there’s “Night Moves,” easily his crowning achievement, which somehow made me nostalgic at 14 for things I hadn’t yet (but desperately wanted) to experience. That’s no mean feat, and while I wasn’t sure what I was responding to, there was something in the sadness of “Night Moves” that made it feel different from everything else on the radio, where it’s continually lived for nearly 40 years.

Like “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” “Night Moves” was one of those songs that had both a single version and an album version, but whereas the extra bit in “Reaper” was just a temporary (albeit kickass) guitar break, the long version of “Night Moves” was something else entirely. 

About 3 minutes into a groovy folk-rock song with a killer bassline, perfectly placed piano and background chick vocalists chiming in on the chorus, Seger ground the song to a dead stop, and suddenly it turned from a reminiscence about fumbling teenage sex to a meditation on mortality: 

I awoke last night to the sound of thunder
How far off I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from 1962
Ain’t it funny how the night moves
When you just don’t seem to have as much to lose
Strange how the night moves
With autumn closing in

So, just like that, as the song restarts and the back-up chicks chant the title hook over and over again, there’s isn’t anymore mention of teenage sex, but rather the adult regret of not realizing just how temporary those youthful pleasures really are.

Of course, as a teenager, I just thought of this as “that boring part,” but now, these decades later, remembering how this song was pretty much everywhere in 1977, I totally get it. Fucking Seger, man.

:: bursts into tears ::

A weird 1994 Official Video for “Night Moves” with famous people in it

My Certain Songs Spotify Playlist:

Every “Certain Song” Ever