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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From his home at the top of the Pennines

Stranger In Town
EMI, 1978
The follow-up to Night Moves dealt with the fallout from Seger’s recent success and his relocation to Los Angeles. The cover was shot on the lawn of his Hollywood home, which also was the inspiration for the single, “Hollywood Nights”. It gave him his first UK chart position, too.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z1-3M9nzg7U

The loneliest two years of my life, I lived in LA. Everybody was always working, and you never see anybody. I wrote “Still The Same” about a multitude of characters that I met in LA. It’s about all the Type As, whether they were record promoters or other artists or whatever. I’m not really a Type A guy. My manager is, and that’s probably why we’ve gotten along great down through the years. I like to listen to people. It’s probably my commercial reason for why it was smart to base out of Michigan. I’ve got Glenn Frey playing guitar on “Till It Shines” and Don Felder is on “Ain’t Got No Money”. So there’s my Eagle guys bailing me out again. I love the Frankie Miller song, “Ain’t Got No Money”. He was like a white Otis Redding. There was a song called “Stranger In Town”. It’s me trying to do a soundtrack to a Clint Eastwood Western. It’s pretty cool, actually. It was the 10th song and it never made it on the album. My manager, who’s superstitious about these things, said, “We’ve had good luck with nine, let’s stick with nine.”

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Against The Wind
EMI, 1980
Seger’s only US No 1 LP to date, it knocked Pink Floyd’s The Wall off the top spot. It won two Grammys and again features Seger’s lucky charm, Glenn Frey, here singing backing vocals. Includes a tribute to Jane Fonda.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k18baoxvpac

Stranger In Town had been like No 2 for a couple of months, but we sold six million records. I think we were up against The Bee Gees. We couldn’t get past Saturday Night Fever, that was No 1 forever. So with Against The Wind, I said, “Whatever it takes, I’m going to have a frigging No 1 album.” Everything I wrote, I was thinking, ‘I’m going to try to make sure it can get on the radio.’ But I was experimental, too. I wrote “Her Strut” for Jane Fonda. She knows it’s about her and she loves that. She came to see us in LA. She was such a sweetheart, she came backstage, took pictures of my kids and crew and stuff. As for the title track, I almost didn’t include the line, “I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then”, because I was a little worried about it being grammatically correct. But I thought, ‘I know what I’m trying to say and that’s the best way I can say it, so I’m just going to leave it in.’ John Fogerty told me it’s his favourite line I ever wrote. When I played “Against The Wind” for The Eagles, Don Henley had me play it again and again. Afterwards, he said, “You hurt yourself on that one, didn’t you?” I told him, “Yes, I did.”

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