Bob Seger: “I wanted to be as rhythmic as James Brown, as deep as Bob Dylan…”

Detroit's blue-collar rocker on his best albums

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Brand New Morning
CAPITOL, 1971
After the failure of the System’s third album, Mongrel, Seger struck out alone on this acoustic album. It was not a success and remains out of print. Seger has said the only copy is buried in his backyard.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=33TnlgDH5fY

I hadn’t listened to Brand New Morning in 35 years until now. I knew I wasn’t a good enough songwriter and I wanted to just stop and write. The only way I could think of to do that was to just quit the band and say, “I’m going to do a solo thing.” I love some of the chords on that record. Most of it’s crap, but there’s a couple of things on it that I like. It’s me trying to become a songwriter. I was writing in weird tunings that I picked up from Tom Rush, who is one of my favourite folk guys. “Railroad Days” is my favourite song on there. I’ve always loved trains. I grew up within a mile of a set of train tracks. My brother, he’s three and a half years older than me, we used to play on the cars – when they were stationary, naturally. We’d do the old penny on the track, all that stuff, get it squashed and take it home and look at it. We could hear the trains at night. It used to make me think, ‘I’m here, but they’re going somewhere.’

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Back In ’72
PALLADIUM/REPRISE, 1973
Plans to record at Muscle Shoals were abandoned after a misunderstanding over studio fees – Seger believed he was being charged £1,500 per side of an album, not – as it turned out – per track. Instead, he recorded the bulk of the album at Leon Russell’s studio.

There’s a few songs from Muscle Shoals, but most of it was done in Paradise, Oklahoma, maybe 60 miles east of Tulsa, at Leon’s. A lot of those years, before we made it big, we were playing 300 and some nights a year, travelling 125,000 miles a year, wearing out vans, station wagons. One night I was playing in Eau Claire, Wisconsin. I was with Skip and Dave from Teegarden & Van Winkle, and we stopped in some place to get something to eat after the gig. It’s like one in the morning. We all had long hair, and Skip and Dave were skinnier than hell, and I wasn’t far behind them. We got harassed. That’s where the song “Turn The Page” came from. As for the line, “You smoke the day’s last cigarette rememberin’ what she said,” that was just a general thing for a travelling musician. We met a lot of girls on the road, and spent a lot of nights out there, and after whatever happened, I’d smoke a cigarette and go to sleep. Yeah, we weren’t the most chivalrous bunch. We knew what was at stake and we knew we were moving on. Probably never see these people again. We weren’t that much in demand either. That was my life back then. You can hear it in that song.

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