The Seger File

2001 Updates

The Seger File is an unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger. Archived updates -- 2001 For the latest updates, see News & Updates page. Written and edited by Scott Sparling sparling@segerfile.com

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2003 Updates (July-Dec)
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Nine Years Online
The Seger File's Birthday Party
 
Unreleased Tracks
Vault V
10 more unreleased tracks
 
Vault 4
16 more unreleased tracks
 
Forward Into the Vault --
26 more unreleased tracks
 
Return to the Vault -- 18 More Unreleased Tracks
 
The Vault --31 Unreleased Tracks
 
Recorded but Unreleased --Unreleased Seger from A-Z
 
Photos
Photos 1Photos 2
 
Photos 3Photos 4
 
Hall of Fame Photos
 
Settle Annex
A collection of great Seger photos
 
Misc.
Dylan's "Denver"
 
The Albums
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Noah
Mongrel
Brand New Morning
Smokin' O.P.'s
Back in '72
Seven
Beautiful Loser
Live Bullet
Night Moves
Stranger in Town
Against the Wind
Nine Tonight
The Distance
Like A Rock
The Fire Inside
Bob Seger's Greatest Hits
It's A Mystery
Greatest Hits 2
Face the Promise
 
Other Albums
The Promised Live Album
The Promised Studio Album
Seger on the Edge
The Bob Seger Collection --(Australian Greatest Hits)
Seger Classics
A Very Special Christmas,1987
Other Album Appearances
The Seger Tribute Album
Sing Your Own Seger
Perfect Albums?
 
Selected Singles
Check the Label
Who Picks the Singles?
Early Singles
The Lonely One
TGIF/First Girl
Ballad of the Yellow Beret
East Side Story
Persecution Smith
Sock It To Me, Santa
Vagrant Winter/Very Few
Heavy Music
2+2=?/Death Row
Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Looking Back
If I Were A Carpenter
Bombs Away
Understanding
Chances Are
My Take on Chances Are
Reaching Number One
 
Other Seger Tracks
Released on Singles, But Not on Albums
Covered by Others
Written By Seger, Recorded by Others
 
Videos
Night Moves (SNL)
Making Thunderbirds
Old Time Rock and Roll
American Storm
Like a Rock
Shakedown
Real Love
Fire Inside
Night Moves (New)
Turn the Page
It's A Mystery
Chances Are
Ten for Two
The Cobo Hall Tapes
The Palace Tapes
 
Influences/Other Bands
Soundtracks
 
TV Appearances
 
Like a Truck
Who Does the Song Belong To?
Ancient History Dept.
How Seger Sees Rock/Truck
Singer or Salesman?
Gatsby, Seger and Victory
The Mystery Man
How the Song Became An Ad
Good Song, Great Ad?
Bad Press, Bad Precedent
Through the Lean Years
Bob's View
Insults and Dead Horses
Fix Or Repair Daily
 
The Early Years
Early Days
Motor City's Burning
Places He Played
Jackson
More Dues-Paying Years
 
Career, Misc.
Lead Singer Vs. Guitar Player
The Slow Road to Success
The Requisites of Greatness
Theories: Why It Took So Long
"You Are Now Leaving Seger Territory"
Punch
Breaking Out
What Is Success?
 
Bands
Early Bands
The Decibels
The Town Criers
The Omens
Democracy Rocks
Later Bands
Bob Seger and the Last Heard
The Bob Seger System
STK
Julia/My Band/Borneo Band
Muscle Shoals band
The Silver Bullet Band
Back-up Systems
Shaun Murphy
Karen Newman
Related Bands
Detroit All-Stars
Alto Reed
 
Blue Highway (Drew Abbott)
 
Bio, Part 1
Detroit? Ann Arbor?
We Even Sang the Parts the Instruments Were Playing
A Father Leaves
Fire and the Memory of Love
All the Wild, Wild Good Times
Personality
Interests and Hobbies
Predicting the Future, Then and Now
 
Bio, Part 2
On Growing Older
Politics
The Seger Work Ethic
You Can't Miss That Driving Rain
Friends and Family
Let's Dig Up Something Really Nasty
Katmandu
I'm Gonna Tell My Tale, C'mon
Of Caves and Barbed Wire
Misc.
 
Songwriting
 
Early Tours and Shows
The Oakland Mall
Jackson
The Primo, R&R Farm, Suds Factory and Chances Are
The Agora
On the Road
Jackson County Fair
Pontiac, the Michigan Jam and Other Victories
Seger in the Arena
The 1983 Tour
 
The 1986-87 Tour
The Last Tour?
They'll Never Be in The Arena, But They Get to Write the Reviews
Savannah
Charlotte
Philadelphia
Oakland
Miami
San Francisco
Seattle
Houston
New York
Los Angeles
Vancouver (Canada)
Greensboro
 
The 1996 Tour
The Set List Discussed
The Set List Presented
The Set List Analyzed
Bringing the Family
Tour Notes
Thirsty for Seger
A Review of the Reviews
Charleston
Nashville
Palace of Auburn Hills
Washington
L.A.
 
The 2006-07 Tour Pages
 
Readin' O.P.'s
A compilation of e-mail messages. Some favorite are:
-- Hope to see you tonight
-- Motor City Rock
-- The FargoDome
-- The 7-Eleven and the Winter Olympics
-- He gave me a strange look
-- Now that we're older
 
 
Brand New Email
More great letters.
-- Seger, Sinatra, Cobain
-- My Dad, Bob and Charlie Martin
-- I work for General Motors
-- Seger and Mohammad Ali
-- The last thing I hear from Bob Seger
-- Road trip to Ann Arbor
-- I never spoke to Bob, but he always spoke to me
 
 
Brand New Email Pt. II
-- Bob at the Roseland Inn
-- Seger interview
-- Backstage with a bad pass
-- Put the car in park
-- Starry August nights
-- Cool me down
-- The bridge from Motown
-- The Seger-starved masses plead for tour news
-- The Kiss File?
 
Seger Stories and Misc. Email
--The best thing you could say
--Blue and Julia  
--Rockin' with Fidel  
--Early days of baseball and Bob
--Follow your heart  
--Waving with the lighter
 
Email '05
--About Drew Abbott
--On 2+2
--On "The Lonely One"
--About Tom Neme
--About Charlie Martin
--Shows
--The Toledo Jam
--About Pep Perrine
--About Jim Bruzzese
--Early days
--Fans
--Early songs
 
Falsehoods
Seger Inks SimTour Deal, Gets Ready to Rock
Capitol Releases "Dee-Pah!
The Seger Cam is back online
The Michigan Jam 2
The Seger versus. SpringsteenComplexo-Meter
The Medicated Top 20
 
Misc.
Reese: Money for Music
Get Back to Work
A guide to surfing The Seger File at work.
The Primo Photo
The Rolling Stone Letter
The Imaginary Interview

Why the Seger File Is Here -- Getting Over Bob Seger

A 2001 New Year's Wish List from the Seger File

Well, it's year's end once again, the time when many misguided persons look to the Seger File to foretell the future. Less savvy truth-seekers search for answers in tea leaves or in the entrails of crudely butchered chickens (I'm going to have to speak to the neighbor kids about that). But the digital pilgrims who journey here know that the Seger File has never been wrong in its predictions. Mainly because the Seger File has never made predictions in the past.

And in fact, the following aren't really predictions. (Unless they come true, in which case, they were.) It's more like a wish list. In case the folks running the show are short on ideas, here's what 2002 really ought to include:

Seger File purchased by Yahoo for $24.6 million. Seger File founder retires to Northern Michigan. Enraged Yahoo staffers later discover Seger File is actually about Bob, not Shea.

In a late night drinking session with Kid Rock, Punch declares, "If that punk from the Seger File thinks it's so easy to get this CD mixed and released, let's see him try!" Later, accepting my Grammy for Best Production, I thank all the little people who made it possible.

CBS premieres "Survivor: Michigan," in which 16 castaways are marooned in the cultural oasis of my old hometown, Jackson, Michigan. They compete to be voted off as quickly as possible. Last person there wins $1 million but doesn't have the energy to spend it.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum passes over all other nominees and inducts only one person: Mickey Dolenz, for his solo work after leaving The Monkees. With their last shred of credibility destroyed, the museum withers and dies. The empty building is eventually used for storing spent fuel rods from that nuclear plant up by Seger's cabin.

My alter ego, essenesse, teams up with P!NK for a worldwide tour. At press appearances, essenesse claims he's "tired of being compared to Britney."

Congress passes the long-awaited NUTRA legislation (National Unreleased Track Requirement Act), mandating unreleased tracks on all remastered CDs.

Using revenues from its burgeoning Members Only section, the Seger File purchases and demolishes the Red Lobster in Jackson, Michigan and opens a shrine to "The Roseland." Thanks to 3-D holography and reanimation techniques stolen from Disney, the Town Criers appear nightly.

Mary Lou Lord issues a new CD and gets the recognition she deserves.

AARP President Rod Stewart offers a special incentive for new members: Free sigmoidoscopies at the Tijuana Wayside Medical Clinic or a signed copy of "The Very Best of Rod Stewart." The CD gets no takers.

iPOD and mp3 technology deal a death blow to the music industry. Realizing that their back catalogues and unreleased tracks are now worthless, musicians and managers worldwide freely open their vaults. Except for Bob and Punch. ("Our fans lead busy lives," they explain. "By making it so they don't have to listen to all this old stuff, we're trying to save them time.")

Kid Rock wears a Segerfile.com t-shirt on national television, causing a total meltdown of my local ISP.

Dylan tours again. Dick Cheney is taken to a secure location.

And finally, that wish list chestnut, Peace on Earth. Or, failing that, peace on the Seger message board at Hollywoodandvine. (Hint to flamers: my last name rhymes with Darling.)

Oh yeah -- Seger releases "Face the Promise of Tomorrow Into the Past." And tours.

A guy can dream, can't he?

December 29, 2001


Heads Up, Heads Off

A whole year of waiting for something that doesn't come can drive a person out of his or her head-- literally. To relieve the tension, the staff of the Seger File recently asked if they could recreate that perennial holiday favorite, "A Salute to the Holidays," using my headless G.I. Joe and Skipper dolls.

At first I said no, but then I figured -- what harm can it do? And it sure beats giving people bonuses. So here it is: Barbie's Little Sister and America's favorite Big Lunk stick their necks out for the holidays. There's nothing about Seger here, but it's a decapitated delight that's sure to leave you scratching your head.

(Note to parents: Don't worry, the Headless Salute to the Holidays is PG-rated, so you can bring the kids. Skipper and G.I. Joe would never "go blue" by making unsavory jokes or innuendoes. You'll have to supply those yourself.)

December 29, 2001

Headless Update:

Honesty compels me to report that the response to the headless doll section has been, well, less than positive. The word "sicko" was used rather freely by several reviewers. Obviously, you guys don't get the irony. (And don't tell me irony is dead. It's not. It's just in one of its torpid stages. Like a cold lizard.) Okay, for a complete explanation of headless dolls and the deep underlying meaning, turn your monitor upside down and read the...no, wait, that's too much trouble. Just click here.

February 15, 2002


Stranger in Bin

The Borders stores in my part of the world have put the remastered Stranger In Town in the bargain bin, with a marked-down sticker price of $8.99. (You can still pay $11.99 if you'd rather buy one from the Seger rack.) This is either good news or bad, depending on your outlook.

It's good news, because it saves Seger fans (including yours truly) a couple bucks.

It's bad news, because it means low interest and low sales. A great-sounding remaster of a great album shouldn't be in the bargain bin a couple months after its release. If Stranger doesn't sell well, maybe they won't be in such a hurry to release other remasters.

It's good news, because it proves that remastered CDs need bonus tracks to attract buyers. This will convince someone at Capitol to insist on a couple bonus tracks for the next Seger remaster.

Let's hope for Number 3.

(As Borders is currently proving, bonus tracks aren't just for old albums anymore. The chain is currently selling a new version of Dylan's Love and Theft with two new unreleased tracks. In other words, a CD I bought a couple months ago at Borders -- which is still riding high on the charts -- has already been repackaged with unreleased tracks...forcing me to buy it again and give the original to a friend. Done deal. Note to Capitol: Bonus tracks sell.)

November 23, 2001


The Bob Seger Interview Part I

In Oregon, these are the days when the rain comes. And yet the grass is still growing. So after I mow, I have to blow.

Specifically, after I finish mowing the lawn, I sit on a stump with a blowdryer and a huge extension cord and blowdry the blades of my old-fashioned handmower. Otherwise it'll rust all to hell.

My neighbors, who have their lawns professionally cut, get a kick out of seeing me out there...either that, or they'd like to kick me out of the neighborhood. One or the other. You might be interested to know, by the way, that properly blowdrying a 1970s-era reel-style pushmower takes about 15 minutes, minimum. A lot of people would find it dull, boring, mindless work. Not me.

As I sit there, nearly motionless, aiming the dryer at the blades, my mind fairly buzzes with a rich tapestry of thoughts and ideas, which all boil down to: Why Me?? Why am I doomed to sit on a stump blowdrying my mower while others sit in the lap of luxury?

Why, for example, am I not doing something a tad more productive such as, say, interviewing Seger?

The way I see it, most of the people who actually do interview Seger are spread way too thin. They're full-time entertainment writers. They write one or two Seger stories a year at most, and the rest of the time they're stuck covering Britney Spears or whomever. They do a good job of asking the obvious questions. But they don't have the depth of a guy who spends all his spare time sitting on a stump thinking about Seger and lawnmowers.

To be honest, there are lots of literate, hardcore Seger fans who could do a fantastic interview. That includes many of the folks who post on the Seger message board at hollywoodandvine.com, Capitol's anemic Seger site. But since this is my fantasy, I always imagine it's me asking the questions.

As the fantasy opens, I see myself sitting in offices of Punch Andrews, talking with Punch and Bob. "Tell us how you got your hands on Carfax Abbey," they snarl. "I will, " I say, "but first you'll have to answer twenty questions." (Conflict is the heart of every good fantasy.)

They reluctantly agree to my terms, insisting that I submit the questions in advance. Once they read them, they're so struck by the wit, the intelligence, the cunning insight of the questions, they forget to stop at twenty. They even forget to hammer me about Carfax Abbey. (I wouldn't squeal anyway.)

The kicker is, it doesn't have to be a fantasy. As I write this, I'm 30,000 feet above Traverse City and coming in for a landing. For the next week, I'll be running the Seger File from a cabin in beautiful Maple City, Michigan, courtesy of Seger DEW-liner T.L., my Northern Michigan main man. Easy striking distance to Birmingham.

So, Punch, Bob -- here's my half of the interview: Click here or on the cabin for the twenty questions (or so) someone ought to ask. If you want to supply the other half, e-mail me and I'll be there in a heartbeat to write down the answers. Or fly out my way and you can join me on the stump.

November 2, 2001


Off the Stump and Out On a Limb

A little over a month ago, I had a chance to hear Dylan in Corvallis, Oregon. Last week, Dylan's tour rolled into Grand Rapids, Michigan, so I came out of the cabin long enough to catch his show a second time. Everything about the concert blew me away; here's one thought to consider, however -- Dylan was eleven songs into his show last week before he played a single song from the Corvallis concert just a month before. Of the 21 songs I heard in Grand Rapids, only seven were repeats from the earlier show. That's an example I'd love to see Seger follow.

As before, the five-member band was cranking. I'll go out on a limb (not much of one) and say this is one of Dylan's best tours. Catch it if you can.

November 21, 2001


From Stranger to Nine to '72: More Remasters Coming, Punch Says 

The remastered Stranger in Town is getting rave reviews and, according to a recent article, Punch says more of Seger's catalogue will be digitally remastered...even including Back in '72.

He doesn't say when, of course -- but still, it's the first word I've heard that '72 will ever be reissued. The album is currently available only on vinyl, cassette and eight-track (and the odd CD-R) ,which means effectively that it's not available at all.

In a Detroit News article, Punch says the next remaster is likely to be Nine Tonight -- followed perhaps, by some of the older albums.

"We will get to Back in '72 at some point -- everybody keeps asking. It's finding good master tapes more than anything," Punch said. Susan Whitall, October 12, 2001, The Detroit News. "Classic Bob Seger tunes remastered into CD form."

The article says synthetic oil used on master tapes in the 1970s caused those tapes to deteriorate.

"In those old days," Punch said, "Capitol would send out a copy [of the master tapes] to each territory, so we tried to figure out who might have stored them properly." Stranger in Town was remastered from a tape found in Japan.

"When we first started out, we'd thought we'd get everything from Capitol and just do it in one day. But the tapes they gave us were as bad as what we had out there, so it's a long process," he added. Susan Whitall, October 12, 2001, The Detroit News. "Classic Bob Seger tunes remastered into CD form."

Punch is also quoted ever-so-briefly on Seger's forthcoming CD. But for that tidbit, you'll have to go to the Seger File CD and Tour News page.

October 14, 2001


The Seger vs. Springsteen Complexo-Meter World Exclusive
(TM)

The digitally remastered Stranger in Town has been out for a couple of weeks now (in the States, that is. Seger File reader Paul Dunn points out that the Canadian release was held until October 9, yesterday). And, if you've ever purchased a Seger CD from Amazon, you've probably received an e-mail from them like this one, which arrived in my inbox today:

"A working-class hero is something to be. Just ask Michigan native Bob Seger, whose poetically uncomplicated lyrics made him a less cerebral alternative to Bruce Springsteen. For those who want the studio album that comes closest to a greatest-hits package, you can hardly do better than this 1978 LP."

Now, as you know, the Seger File never prints any information that hasn't been thoroughly researched and tested using the highest standards of broadcast journalism. (In other words, I try not to blink while uploading rumors as fast as I can.) But the Amazon write up knocked me for a loop: "made him" an alternative to Springsteen??? Past tense? As if the whole Seger thing is over??

And what's this about being "less cerebral" and "poetically uncomplicated"??? (What, are there folks out there who really like Bruce's music, but just wish it was, well, a little less confusing? Does "Born to Run" leave you scratching your head? No problem! Just buy one of Bob's CD's. You'll find it in the "Rock Music for Dummies" section.)

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised: these timeworn comparisons have been trotted out by many a lazy writer over the years. Instead of making the effort to understand Seger or describe his appeal in its own right, they just define him as a Motor City version of Springsteen and move on.

But frankly, the Amazon e-mail has pushed me over the edge. It's time, once and for all, to settle this -- to find out who is poetically uncomplicated, and who is not. That's right -- I'm rolling out the Seger File Lyric Comparison Complexo-Meter. Developed by a team of scholars and unemployed dot-com refugees, the Complexo-Meter uses the principle of reverse ionization to objectively measure the cerebral content of any set of lyrics. Stand back, because it's a Seger File World Exclusive. Ready? Here goes.

 

COMPLEXO-METER(TM) EXAMPLE 1

LYRIC
ANALYSIS
 

SPRINGSTEEN

 

When you're alone, you're alone,

When you're alone, you're alone.

When you're alone, you're alone.

When you're alone, you ain't nothing but alone.

 

Note the grace with which the author plumbs the many levels of aloneness in this haunting and powerful exploration of the soul. Using a carefully nuanced style that is at once accessible and transcendent, Springsteen playfully juxtaposes apostrophes and commas, subtly evoking the ups and downs of the human condition. The mysterious repetition signifies a cycle of sameness against which the soul must struggle; in that sense, the closing line represents both a victory and defeat -- the pattern is broken, but remains unbroken. Through this mastery of ambiguity, Springsteen takes us on a soulful journey and returns us to our starting place, changed, yet unchanged. When you're a genius, you're a genus.
 

SEGER

 

All the penguins

Getting well-done.

 

There's some kind of barbecue going on, and the penguins have been left on the spit too long.

 

Well, whattaya know? Maybe Springsteen is more poetically complex. Let's try another example.

 

COMPLEXO-METER(TM) EXAMPLE 2

ARTIST
LYRIC
ANALYSIS
 

SPRINGSTEEN

 

My love is bigger than a Honda,

My love is bigger than a Subaru.

 

Big love.
 

SEGER

 

(My truck is) Like a rock.

 

Big truck.

 

At first glance, you might be tempted to give this one to Springsteen also. After all, most people would say that love is more poetically complex than a mere vehicle. On the other hand, any fool can fall in love, but how many of us can build a truck? Seger gets this round for "more cerebral." Let's go to the tiebreaker.

 

COMPLEXO-METER(TM) EXAMPLE 3

ARTIST
LYRIC
ANALYSIS
 

SPRINGSTEEN

 

My baby does the hanky-panky*

 

*Okay, so this is not a real Springsteen lyric. But it's an incredibly dumb line.
 

SEGER

 

It's time to get down and do the Horizontal Bop.

 

My mother objected to this line when she heard it. But the song makes a great show-closer.

 

Okay, I think I've proved my point, which is: I'm not sleepy and there's nothing good on TV tonight. Sure, I could dress that thought up in all kinds of fancy language, but I know you Seger fans don't like to think too hard. So don't think at all: just go to Amazon and get the remastered Stranger in Town. Tell 'em the Seger File sent you. But for god's sake stay out of the poetry section.

October 10, 2001


How Many Times

"I used to know all these Dylan tunes, but I never, ever played them. I'd just sing 'em to myself. Fantastic lyrics..." Seger, quoted by Dave Marsh, May 1972, Creem. "Doncha Ever Listen to the Radio...Bob Seger, Best in the Midwest."

On the drive down to Corvallis last night, the radio was full of bulletins about the strike on Afghanistan. When I got to Gill Coliseum, someone had hung a sign over the railing that said "How Many Times?"

The performer onstage, of course, was Bob Dylan. Regardless of where you stand on the politics of war, it was eerie and electrifying and powerfully cathartic to hear one of the great geniuses of our generation sing Masters of War and Blowing in the Wind (with which he closed the show) on such a night.

But even without the dramatics, it was a stunning performance. This is the Seger File, not the Dylan File, but just a word to those of you who might also be Dylan fans: Don't miss this tour. The Corvallis show was only the third stop; there's 32 more shows across the country. If his music is important to you, and you have a chance to see him, go. He's playing some smaller places, too. Wouldn't you love to hear him in La Crosse, Wisconsin, or Sioux City, Iowa? I would. The band sounds fantastic and you'll see a master at the top of his form. How many times do you get a chance like that?

(As a side note, the official Dylan web site is interesting also. You can check out last night's set list by following the link at bobdylan.com/live/. They have a cool Dylan-lyric search engine, too.)

October 8, 2001


New Stranger

A number of Seger fans have written me with the tip that a remastered "Stranger In Town" has been recently released. Thanks to all of you for keeping me informed. I've been out of the info-loop lately because I've been spending so much time in my treehouse, working on a book. There's no Internet connection out there, which is why I go there; I can actually get some work done.

Anyway, I've held off trumpeting the new Stranger until the big question was answered: How does it sound? For the answer, there is no better source than Seger File reader and possessor of good ears, Michael Good. Michael writes:

Hi Scott,

In case you haven't picked it up yet, the new remaster of Stranger In Town sounds absolutely great! Punch didn't remaster this one - someone named Robert Vosgien did, and he sure knows his stuff. Seger's voice, Teegarden's drums, the guitars, the pianos - all sound so much fuller, so much more inflected, so much more complete in what we love about Seger. Hope you get a chance to enjoy it soon!

Regards,

Michael

Thanks, Michael. I'm on my way to the store right now.

September 26, 2001


A Polar Bear's Fur Is Actually Sort of a Yellow

It only looks white because of the snow. And Seger is not among this year's nominees for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The question is, in light of everything else that's happened, do we really care anymore?

I suppose we should care about the polar bear, because accuracy is important. Certainly we must care about the music, because music that comes from the heart has the power to heal and inspire. But all the hoopla that goes with the music...well, who's in and who's not in an arbitrary psuedo-museum slash tourist attraction has never seemed so unimportant. Though slamming the Hall of Fame is still kind of fun, I must admit.

Anyway, thanks to Seger File reader and Seger fan Robert Maisch for gleaning this piece of Seger news from the media during a week when all eyes were focused elsewhere.

September 26, 2001


A Full Force Gale?

In the wake of last week's tragedy, many radio stations adjusted their playlists. (A bizarre list of songs deemed inappropriate by Clear Channel, Inc, can be found here.) No Seger songs were pulled, to my knowledge. Just the opposite: According to Seger File reader and Seger fan Michael Funk, one song gained airplay overseas. Funk writes:

Hi Scott,

It's Michael from Germany. On German radio this morning I heard an interview with a programme executive of Classic Rock Radio Washington. Because of the attacks in New York and Washington, they temporarily removed songs like "Leaving on a Jet Plane" by John Denver, " Big Old Jet Airliner" by Steve Miller Band or " Burning Down the House" by Talking Heads from their programme. They try to support the US and the policy of President Bush with 'Pro American Songs.' And their favourite at the time is "American Storm" by Bob Seger. If I understood everything right, they play it almost every hour. As far as I know, the song is about the destructive power of drugs. And now it is used as a support for a 'Maybe War .' I wonder if Seger likes this. I'd guess he doesn't. The only positive aspect for me, if there is any positive thing without being cynical, is that Seger gets more airplay.

All the best for you and your nation. Best regards

Michael

Since receiving Michael's e-mail, I've had American Storm in my head also, but not necessarily for patriotic reasons. It's just that the melody is so pleasantly and powerfully addictive -- especially if you slow it down and really savor it. Try it: sing "It's like a full force gale, an American storm," to yourself at half speed or slower. Pretend you're casually strumming a guitar ala MTV's Unplugged as you sing. You'll be doing it for days.

September 26, 2001


This Is My Commercial

I remember this like it was yesterday: I had just gotten to work when the doctor called from OHSU, the huge hospital on the hill. They would make my mom comfortable, he said, but there was nothing else they could do. I left work and drove to the hospital, parked in the big garage, and spent the next day and a half -- her last 36 hours -- at her side. The final minutes are something you don't forget.

And then, afterward, I did what you have to do: I walked back to my car, got in, and headed home. It was nearly midnight. I had no idea what CD I had left in the player 36 hours earlier. It could have been anything. As soon as I started the engine, Randy Newman came on -- his brilliant CD, Bad Love. For a few dark minutes before I turned my headlights on, his voice and his song were my whole world.

That was almost two years ago. Last night I heard the opening cut from Bad Love again, as an ad for Country Insurance: "This is my country, this is the world I understand...." It was another personal low in the life of someone who doesn't make music, but loves listening to the music of others. Don't they know what these songs mean to us?

September 26, 2001


September 11, 2001

It's a rite of passage
through a hurricane
Through a rolling thunder
through a screaming rain
Hear the shriek of Abel
hear the cry of Cain...
 
Make a destination
Of the greater truth...
 
This is all your given
It's your only move.
Rite of Passage, 1993


He's Like A Full Force Kid

So I get to the head of the latte-line, and the wiseacre behind the counter says to me, "Your name must be Bob!"

My name is not Bob, of course -- my name is Essenesse and with your mind I will mess. The coffee guy is shining me because I'm wearing my Seger t-shirt and I've got my arms folded, and all you can see is the word Bob.

I don't want to put up with this. I'm on vacation on the Oregon Coast. All I want is a latte. But it goes on. The minute I unfold my arms, he says, "Oh, Bob Seger."

The coffee guy appears to be in his sixties. I don't think he really knows who Bob Seger is. But now he's got the couple standing next to me checking out my shirt. They're in their mid-twenties, I guess. Gorgeous girl, okay looking guy.

"Bob Seger???" the girl says. I can hear the three question marks she gives it. "Rock on."

I have no idea what she means. Is she genuinely impressed? Or putting me on, making fun of me for being an old guy (compared to her) wearing an old guy's shirt. Her sweet little "Rock on" is a perfect bunt -- it could go either way and it freezes me.

But then she ads, "Really, I have his CD." Her boyfriend, not wanting to be left out, grunts his approval.

So I get my coffee and go, triumphant. I've impressed another gorgeous young thing with my rock-savvy ways and my Bob Seger t-shirt. The day's off to a great start.

And then, first thing you know, Kid Rock's on national TV stealing my act.

Well, okay, maybe it's not exactly stealing. Maybe what he's really doing is validating my taste. Making the world safe for Bob Seger t-shirts. To which I say, way to go, Kid. Rock on.

 

Kid Rock takes the MTV Video Music Awards by storm.

September 7, 2001


Fortunate Son

We were on our way to the miniature golf course, stuck in Labor Day traffic, when "Neon Sky" came on the car CD deck. It's the day before third grade starts -- not for me, for my son, who's in the back seat. The miniature golf is his idea. "Listen," I say when "Neon Sky" comes on, and I punch the volume way up. I want my son to understand Seger, and how special he is. "Listen to the way he hits 'green'!" I say.

My son listens. "The devil is red," Seger sings, "but his money is gre-eee-eeen." If you have Back in '72, you can hear this too. If you have Seven, you can see it. The picture on the back of Seven is the one I took while Seger was playing "Neon Sky" at the Primo in Ann Arbor in 1973.

And then the whole experience -- stuck in traffic, on the way to miniature golf, listening to Seger -- starts one of those moments: I'm a kid again, I'm with my dad in front of his big mahogany hi-fidelity console that takes up half the living room, and my dad is playing one of his Louis Armstrong records. "Listen to that" he says.

Sitting in the Mazda drenched in Seger, I realize that I am my father's fortunate son. Fortunate in that my father loved Satchmo and shared his favorite music with me -- 'turn that down' was a phrase never uttered in our house -- and fortunate now to have a son who listens to mine.

The traffic clears and we get going again, and this is what I hope for: That my son will grow up and have his own kids and his own music -- it won't be Seger, but maybe someone just as good will come along -- and one day, out of pure love and enthusiasm, he'll punch up the volume, turn to his kids and say "Listen!"

That's what it's all about. That's what I want.

SS -- Labor Day, 2001. For my dad and for Z.


Unfortunate Son

"Some folks are born made to wave the flag, ooh, that red, white and blue. And when they need to sell some Wrangler Jeans, ooh, they point the camera at you. But it ain't me, it ain't me, I ain't no adman's son, son. Check that - it is me, it is me, I'm the marketing one."

Well, it's about time John Fogerty joined the ranks of rock's superstars and not-so-superstars in the tough duty of telling us what to buy. It's a glorious list, including The Who, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles (via Michael Jackson), Paul Simon, Iggy Pop, Sting, Tom Petty, Seger, Hendrix (I think) and dozens of others. All this rock 'n roll salesmanship is a good thing -- or no, it's a bad thing. Maybe it's a good-bad thing, or just an unstoppable thing so get used to it. Anyway, for yet another view on the subject, check out the opinion of a UAW guy on Like A Truck, here.

I don't really want to wrangle about it anymore, and yet -- why oh why must they use Fortunate Son??? It's surely one of rock's most rebellious three-minute triumphs. Why not use the born-lame "Centerfield" instead?

Do you suppose there'll come a day when advertising will be so interactive that marketers will know which songs I revere and which I disdain? Then maybe they could take the songs I don't care about and use them in ads. Except, of course, they wouldn't.

September 2, 2001


Seger at the Shed

I like to imagine that, long ago, the town of Elberta, Michigan bet on the future and lost. Geographically, Elberta is located in paradise, on the south side of beautiful Betsie Bay, about two-thirds of the way up Lake Michigan. On the other side of the bay sits the town of Frankfort. You can swim across the narrow inlet of the bay in less than five minutes, though the guys in the Coast Guard station may come out and yell at you. At least they did when I was a teenager, the day I swam across.

Yet for two towns so close, Elberta and Frankfort couldn't be farther apart in style and function. I imagine them, fifty years ago, choosing their futures: Shortsighted Frankfort decides to chase the fickle tourist dollar. Hah -- nothing will come of that. The sturdy folk of Elberta cast their lot with heavy industry. Huge oil storage tanks. A large freight yard. The terminus of the enormous cross-lake auto-ferries. The kind of substantial stuff that built America.

Now, fifty years later, it's all gone to rust. Frankfort gets more prosperous and more crowded with tourist shops and condos by the minute. And Elberta never changes. Except, maybe, to get emptier.

And yet, when I retire, I'd like to live in Elberta. I might add that as President and CEO of Segerfile.com, I should be retiring any day now. I mean, I've got an obscure web site with an unworkable business plan and no income. On paper, I should be worth millions. And yet, somehow, my bank account remains unchanged. Clearly, there's been an enormous error somewhere.

The good news is, it won't take millions to retire in Elberta. I could probably already afford a cheap house there, or maybe a prefab deal on the edge of town. I've got my eye on Crapo Street, though. You remember Crapo Street, right? From the Doors song? "She lives on Crapo Street / lingers long on Crapo Street." At least I think that's how it went.

Why, you ask, would I choose empty Elberta over fantastic Frankfort? There are lots of reasons, and chief among them is the Cabbage Shed -- hands down one of the best bars in America. Laid-back, friendly, spacious, inviting and right on the water. You might be surprised to learn this, but it used to be a cabbage shed. And now it's a just a great place to have a beer and hear some music. Maybe it's not exactly the kind of place where everybody knows your name, but if you lived on Crapo Street and went there everyday, probably a lot of people would. Or maybe they'd just call you "that Crapo Street guy." That'd be good enough for me.

Recently, as you may have deduced from the headline, Bob Seger did something I'd like to do: Stopped in at the Shed to check out a new band. One of the original Seger DEW-Liners -- longtime friend and great Michigan host, TL -- tipped me off to the news. A little web sleuthing led me to Jim Clapp, owner of the Cabbage Shed. Here's what Jim said in response to my query about Seger's visit.

"Yes, Seger did stop in at the Shed on July 13. One of his party called to say that they were in the Frankfort harbor and had a "rock star" with them and did we think he would be mobbed with fans if he came by. He had seen an article about the Eric Stuart Band, out of New York, playing at the Shed, and he wanted to check them out. Actually, another band, Rob Roy from Detroit, stopped in to hear the ESB, also. Anyway, my son assured him that the Shed was pretty laid back, so, sure enough, he came over. He was accompanied by a rather large gentleman who, I'm sure, could have handled any overzealous fans, but as it turned out, most people didn't recognize him, we didn't let on that he was here, so he wasn't hassled. It went very smoothly."

Elberta, Seger, the Shed. Right there you've got a major chord of coolness. But what about this band? Well, because I know the Web is a dangerous place, and you don't like to surf around all by yourself, I went to the Eric Stuart Band website for you. Here's what I appropriated from their recent tour notes:

"Next we headed to The Cabbage Shed in Elberta, MI for two nights. This venue is really something different. It is an old Cabbage Shed turned into a restaurant and music club. It is right on the bay and has a beautiful view of the harbor. This is a really cool place. Jim and his staff treated us great. (Jim is a very good folk singer / guitarist as well. We even convinced him to play a couple of songs with us one night.)

"The highlight of the stay there though was our celebrity guest...Bob Seger saw a newspaper article on us and decided to check out the band. He stopped by and watched our show for three hours. He even danced to our music. I am a huge fan and to know he liked our music enough to hang out all night and listen meant a lot to me."

Interestingly, the Eric Stuart Band has been a popular opening act of late, touring with groups such as Ringo's All-Starr Band and Peter Frampton. Ringo reportedly signed them for a handful of shows and was so impressed that he kept them for the whole tour.

So was Bob checking them out as a possible opening act? That's a provocative question. Naturally, as the Web's most authoritative source of Seger information, I have an answer and here it is: I don't know. But if you want to hear what Seger heard, you can check out their mp3 here. Or check out beautiful Betsie Bay and Elberta's now-vanished freight yard here. Or linger long on Crapo Street here.

August 17, 2001


Shedding More Light

The above piece on "Seger at the Shed" got a quick response from a couple of folks -- including Eric Stuart, whose band Seger came to hear. This is what Eric wrote:

Hey Scott,

Wow, word sure does travel fast in your parts. I saw from your web site that you got most of the details of the night. It was truly an honor to have Seger sit and watch our three-hour show. I have been a fan of Seger's for a long time. My style of Americana-rock has been compared to him before (very flattering) and to actually have the man in the audience was just such a thrill. I contacted his manager after the show to let him know that not only was I flattered he stopped by, but anytime, anywhere, if Bob Seger wanted me and my band to open for him, we would be there in a flash. I hope they take my offer seriously. We are preparing to go into the studio to record our new album. I hear he is doing the same. It might make perfect sense to do a tour together in the future. I can only hope. We need more music from Bob Seger. I can't wait to see what he gives us.

Eric Stuart

I also heard from Rick Coates, a writer from northern Michigan who also books acts through Stage Right Media in Acme. "I wrote the Eric Stuart article that caught Seger's attention," Coates write. "I actually arranged several Stuart dates in northern Michigan so I could spend time with Eric for a national piece...Eric is not only a talented singer/songwriter, he is also the voice of 20-plus characters in the Pokemon movies including Brock and James."

The Northern Express -- the northern Michigan paper that ran Coates original piece on Stuart -- adds a closing thought in the twisted syntax typical of tabloids: "Coates adds that Seger is putting the final touches on a new CD at Kid Rock's studio, 'which insiders are saying may be his best ever.'" Hey, it's the only studio Kid Rock's ever had -- of course it's his best ever. But what do they think about Seger's new CD?

(Okay, so it's a grammar joke. It's also Labor Day weekend. I'm out of here. If you need me, I'll be in the treehouse.)

September 2, 2001


And Once More to the Shed 

People can't stop writing me about Seger's Cabbage Shed cameo. And that's a good thing. The latest e-mail is from Graham Strachan of Robb Roy, another high-powered Michigan band. Listen to them on their web site if you have a chance.

Hey Scott,

I had been talking to some folks here in Detroit about a night we spent up at the Cabbage Shed to see Eric's band perform. Eric would be a great fit with Bob. He is a wonderful story teller. I am the vocalist in the band Robb Roy -- www.robbroy.com -- that you mentioned in your article. We were up north to perform at an event called Zonestock at Timberly Resort just outside of Traverse City. Bob Seger had a huge impact on me when I first started writing and singing. I count "Turn The Page" as one of the best songs ever written. I look forward to hearing the new stuff. We also had heard that Kid Rock was involved with the new recordings. Kid and Bob share the same manager. I really enjoyed your site. Your attention to detail is amazing. Cheers,

Graham Strachan

September 7, 2001

A bar in a little lakeside town: The legendary Cabbage Shed.

 

Inside the Cabbage Shed. Seger sat at the table in the foreground.


Waiting on the Lightning

If the winds are favorable, you might catch Seger on the web-cam this Monday. No, not the legendary and fictional Seger-Cam, but the 77th Bacardi Bayview-Mackinac Race finish-line cam. That's because Seger is once again sailing in the annual race from Port Huron, Michigan to Mackinac Island, beginning Saturday.

Thanks once again for the tip-off to Seger fan Diane Burkey, who e-mailed me her report of Seger's on-air chat with WCSX personalities J.J. Johnson and Lynne Woodison today. Seger called the station in support of the annual CLF radiothon (the Children's Leukemia Foundation: last year the station raised a quarter million dollars for CLF).

Talk soon turned to the upcoming race, however, and, yes, the upcoming album and tour. Were dates mentioned, you ask. Indeed they were. Check the CD and Tour News page for Seger's hot-off-the-airwaves estimate for the new album and tour.

Okay, I'll bet that cleared the room. I'll just wait here.

You back? Good. Anyway, while you're waiting for the album, you might catch a glimpse of Seger's boat, "Lightning" on the Big Boy Mackinac Finish Line Web Cam. (Nothing goes together like Big Boy and Bacardi. And sailing. Talk about the good life.)

Anyway, Seger's boat is a good old SC-52, or so says the race's web site, which I barely understand. Multicolored spinnaker. Fifty-three feet long. Before my ISP booted me offline, I gleaned that Seger's corrected time last year was 37 hours and change, putting him across the finish line, if that's what you call it, around 10:40 on Monday, just behind Bullseye, but ahead of Undaunted. Boat names are much less interesting than horse names, if you ask me. (And, if you want misinformation on boats or horses, you certainly should ask me, as I've never been near either.) My favorite horse name of all time is "Honeymoon Surprise." Now there's a name that tells a story. Interestingly, last year's boats included Night Moves and Silver Bullet, but neither had any connection to Seger that I could discern. Two years ago, Seger raced in a boat named Slot. Have you noticed how the cashiers at Starbucks, when they give you change for your fiver, now slur their words together so it comes out "thank slot" rather than "thanks a lot." I wonder if Seger goes to the same Starbucks I do? Probably not. I'm getting paid by the word tonight, in case you haven't noticed. Anyway, Seger won't be sailing alone. The boat data lists a crew of 11.

So there you have it: All the news you really wouldn't be interested in if Seger weren't involved. Next up, what Britney Spears ate for breakfast. Back after this.

July 19, 2001


Seger Wins Boat Race; Sparling Takes Second in Extreme Pop-A-Shot
(TM) Tourney

By now you've heard that Seger's boat, Lightning, took the first-place trophy in the 253-mile Port Huron to Mackinac yacht race. And, while Seger was savoring his victory, I took a solid second place in the impromptu Extreme Pop-A-Shot (TM) tourney held in the garage of Seger DEW-liner Randy C.

Of the boat race, Seger says, "We won by 24 minutes! Oh, we're just sky high." Susan Whitall, Detroit News, July 26, 2001. "Seger savors sail race win, plans to finish album soon."

The Detroit News article continues: "Seger isn't a figurehead on his boat, but a working crew member. 'I'm not much of a sail trimmer, and I'm not strong enough to be a grinder,' he says. 'So I steer.' Seger and the rest of the crew work three hours on, and three hours off....'We hardly slept; we just really wanted it.'" Susan Whitall, Detroit News, July 26, 2001. "Seger savors sail race win, plans to finish album soon."

You can read the rest of Whitall's article, or another Detroit News piece by following the links. The Detroit Free Press also covers the race results, interviewing Seger's crew here and here, with great details on mast pins and spinnaker poles and PHRF ratings, yachta, yachta yachta.

None of these articles elaborates much on Seger's recording plans, except to repeat earlier reports that he's got one more recording session in late August and hopes to have the new CD out by Christmas. Check the Seger File's CD and Tour News page for the actual quotes plus a wait-and-see comment about tours.

Bizarrely, the four articles also overlook my second place finish in Extreme Pop-A-Shot (TM), the new sport that's sweeping the nation -- or if not the whole nation, at least the portion of it near this particular Pop-A-Shot machine in Randy's garage, which itself is in the general vicinity of our nation's capital. I was there doing research on dehydration. It wasn't the heat, it was the humidity. And the humanity. Which happened to include 40,000 Boy Scouts, earning their "Annoying Tourist" merit badges and just generally putting the "jam" in jamboree. We trudged, them and us, from the Sleep Country USA Washington Monument ("Why Buy A Monument Anyplace Else?") to the Joe's Hemp World Lincoln Memorial. We bumped shoulders with Chandra Levy at a Dunkin' Donuts in College Park. She was in line to get a Dunk-acinno (TM) with five people ahead of her, which means she'll be there another couple months. A lot of media types are gonna be pretty embarrassed when she finally comes out. And we played Extreme Pop-A-Shot (TM).

This exciting new sport is a home variation of the popular arcade game, doncha know: You face the basket with six balls and thirty seconds on the clock. Every time you miss, you discard a ball by tossing it over your shoulder, meaning you can easily run out of balls before you run out of time. Hence, the marketing slogan "Extreme Pop-A-Shot Players Put Their Balls on the Line." My high score was in the low two-digits.

Of course, not a word of this made the papers. Why the popular press continues to ignore my personal accomplishments while running lavish features on celebrities, I'll never know. Still, Seger's victory did flush out a little music news, at least.

If I'd been there personally to see him win, I might have taken a picture, and it might have looked something like the ones below, which I grabbed from a more straight-laced web site. In consideration of the moral and ethical issues involved, I'm reprinting them very small. (It's kind of like lying in a quiet voice. It makes it more respectable.) If you click on the images, nothing will happen.

 

August 1, 2001


Too Much of Nothing

After midnight Saturday night. Just me, Johnnie Walker and the headphones. And maybe a bit later, in the wee, wee hours, a little go-round with Mrs. Butterworth. Assuming there's any Bisquick left.

(What the heck is it with product names these days? Do you know there's a new butter-substitute spread on the market named "Could It Be Butter?" What kind of a name is that?

"What's that weird taste?"
"I dunno. Tastes kind of slimy."
"Could it be butter?"
"Nah. Tastes more like axle grease."
"Yeah. Or maybe purified toe jam."
"Whatever. Pass me some more.")

Anyway, the headphones are on. And "Chances Are." Because there's nothing else to talk about, Seger fans have been e-mailing me about the Vonda Shepard/ Robert Downey version of "Chances Are." To which I say, have you listened to the Seger/McBride version lately? I mean really listened, with headphones at high volume, after midnight?? You should. It is a powerful, powerful song, and the fact that it did nothing on the charts is both a mystery and a travesty.

I know almost no one has access to Seger, but I wish there were some journalist -- some Timothy White or Gary Graff type -- who would ask Seger what he makes of that, and how he feels about that. Gary, Tim, here's the question: When you've had more success than you could ever dream of, does it still hurt when you release a great song, and it doesn't sell? Or are you at a point where sales numbers just don't matter? I'd ask this question myself, but we Internet journalists get no respect.


The Seger news-drought is broken only by a story from Ann Arbor concerning flyers that advertised an upcoming Seger concert at Hill Auditorium. (Those who find my life story fascinating will experience a small thrill in recalling that Hill Auditorium is where I first heard Seger, in 1971.) In this case, however, the flyers were a hoax and the concert turned out to be nothing. As if we haven't had enough of nothing already.

Oddly, almost no one was fooled by the fake flyers. And yet, I still get folks wanting to sign up for the Seger-Cam. Sheesh. It was an April Fool's Joke, okay?


With nothing new about Seger to report, I'm using this space to promote the Fulgent Star Memos. You remember Fulgent Star, right? The advertising league softball team that captured America's heart? The team that invented the Tringle? ( Also known as the ground rule single.) Not ringing a bell? Perhaps you should have your memory checked. Either that, or click here for the complete memos, including a new, and shocking, final Fulgent Star entry.

July 15, 2001

 
Crazed Loner Meets Thong Girl

(Warning: This article contains no Seger news. The absence of Seger news does not make this article better for your health.)

In my ongoing effort to listen to music other than Seger, I took myself to the recent Steve Earle / Mary Chapin Carpenter show, followed the next night by Counting Crows. This experience resulted in lots of good music, but no insights at all about Seger. I did, however, learn this: The body type of an Earle / Carpenter fan is radically different from the body type of a Counting Crows fan.

At Earle, I was wedged in the middle of six truly huge humans -- there had to be a ton of gross poundage in just that half of the aisle. I could barely move. The house was only half-full, but probably outweighed the SRO Counting Crows crowd by plenty. At Counting Crows, in contrast, I was deliciously situated between the kind of spikey-haired, multi-pierced lesbian that I find most attractive / mysterious and a twenty-something, spaghetti-strapped, thong-wearing, 30-years-too-late to be a teenybopper, straight-haired blonde. Your quintessential squealer / jumper. I think she was on ritalin. If not, she has a serious metabolism imbalance.

Very often in the past I have felt self-conscious about going to concerts like this alone, but no more. Now, I flaunt my aloneness. My role as crazed loner is perfect for such situations. Who is this guy? Why is he alone? Should I look at him? Is he looking at me? Moral: If you have a defect, make a big deal out of it and it becomes a strength.

In fact, my power as a crazed loner is so great that I attract other crazed loners. I hate that. Can't these fools see this is a solo act? As soon as some other single male parks himself in my orbit, our power is gone. We go from mysterious loners to pathetic dweebs in an instant. I wanted to kick this one guy who was so insecure in his aloneness that he established his outpost just five feet from mine.

Go ahead, ask me how I knew she was wearing a thong. That's the easy question. Because she was such a skinny puppy that when she bent over to talk to her two girlfriends her pants bulged out in back and I could see half her butt. The harder question is why she was wearing a thong in the first place. Thongs serve no utilitarian function that I can discern. Their only purpose is to turn on the guy you are with. But she wasn't with a guy. Was she just being prepared, adapting her mother's "in case you're hit by a bus" advice to "in case you meet a guy." Or do women these days just wear thongs to concerts in order to feel sexy? I could understand that. I have a special pair of underwear that I wore when delivering my father's eulogy. This isn't a joke, but rather a rare personal revelation in the midst of a joke. They're not special because I wore them for the eulogy...I wore them for the eulogy because they're special. It's their color. Light grey. Note to Bob: Maybe you could work this theme into your new album -- the strange values people attribute to undergarments. How's that album coming, by the way?

Anyway, the music. Earle, great. Carpenter, too mellow, but she'd just had knee surgery so was probably on painkillers. Counting Crows, puzzling. They're between albums, and didn't rock as hard as the last time I saw them. With the lack of cathartic rockers and youngness of the crowd, I left feeling not charged up, but sad, and kind of lonely. The thong is over, but the malady lingers on.

July 18, 2001


 Seger, Kid Rock and the Hump

About a half-mile from here, there's a bump in the road labeled "BUMP" in block letters. Some live wire with a spray can has changed it to read "HUMP." Someone else e-mailed me recently to ask if we were over the hump in the long wait for Seger's new CD. Quite a coincidence, it seems to me. Though conceivably the sprayer and the e-mailer could be the same person, messing with my mind.

At any rate, the answer is: I don't know. You can search the Internet all night long and find no clues to the status of Seger's long-awaited album. I'm assuming Seger wants it that way.

Many freight cars, you might be interested to know, have cardboard signs stapled to the side saying Do Not Hump. You could, if you had a mind to, take one of these signs and put it somewhere else for comedic effect. But that would mean the car in question would get humped, and the contents damaged, which over time would cause yardmasters to become less friendly toward freight-hopping trespassers. So, in the days when we spent our nights roaming through switching yards, we rarely took the Do Not Hump signs. The "we" being Jesse and me.

The hump, in case you're wondering, is a little hill in the center of the switching yard. The string of freight goes up one side of the hump, and at the apex, the hump rat pulls the pin, decoupling the car. The freed car goes gliding almost noiselessly down the far side of the hump, gathering speed and rolling onto whatever track is lined up on the switch...say, onto 3-track where a string of Chicago-bound cars is being assembled. If you're climbing on the far end of that string, you won't see the car coming, and because there's no engine pushing it, you won't hear it either. But when it slams onto the end, the whole string might lurch five feet or more in an instant. It's an explosive jolt that can shake you off the car, especially if you're having a drinking session or switching guitars around. So we stayed sober in the switchyards and never traveled with guitars.

And yet, the same cannot be said about the (fairly) recent Kid Rock studio sessions, news of which provides the only morsel of Seger info -- new info, that is -- available on the World Wide Web.

According to a months-old article in the Detroit Free Press, Rock was cutting some tracks at his new Ortonville, Michigan studio with Detroit producer Al Sutton. Ortonville, you probably don't know, was founded by Amos Orton who built a dam across Kearsley Creek to furnish water power for his sawmill. All this happened back in 1848, while Seger was still writing songs for his new album.

Anyway, the article states: "Rock said the creative juices are gushing at the studio, dubbed the Chophouse. Saturday night featured an all-star jam session with Hank Williams Jr., Bob Seger, saxophonist Alto Reed and Rock's Twisted Brown Trucker band. 'We had a drinking session,' he says, "then everyone started swapping instruments.'" Brian McCollum, April 24, 2001, Detroit Free Press. "Kid Rock 'getting to know' Anderson."

So there's your ration of Seger news for the summer. The rest of the article speculates about Rock's relationship with Pamela Anderson, who if you ask me, is already taking up far more than her share of bandwidth. Why is there never a Do Not Hump sign around when you need one?

July 7, 2001


"Train man rambles dusty into town..."

And speaking of locomotives....From "Train Man" to "Railroad Days" to "Sometimes," a fascination with freights runs through Seger's music. So if you enjoy Seger, you may also enjoy, and want to own, "Freight Weather," the third book in a trilogy of freight photojournalism by Jesse Burkhardt.

Yes, this is the same Jesse who haunted the clubs and bars of Michigan with me in the early days, plotting freight trips and listening to Seger. Then and now, Burkhardt has been chasing fast freight and slow -- hauling a pack in the days when freight trains were for riding, and carrying a Pentax these days, aimed at the action.

His new book is full of color photos and great writing. It's also full of heart: Jesse's passion for trains is on every page. There's even a short section on my railroad days, adapted from an essay that originally appeared in the Seger File.

In short, "Freight Weather: The Art of Stalking Trains" is the kind of book you ought to have on your coffee table, especially if you're a really big star with a really big coffee table. I'm not naming names: You Know Who You Are. Same goes for the rest of you.

More info is available at the Rolling Dreams website here.

The folks want new and faster transportation: Burkhardt captures a once-a-day train at Cameron, Wisconsin and a stop sign and crossbucks at Ambrose, California.

April 27, 2001


Garth, Dale, NASCAR, Presley and Me

For someone who mainly stays out of the public eye, Seger (or his music) has been in the media a bit lately, popping up in some unlikely places.

The first siting came in late February, when one of the major networks chose "Still the Same" as a soundtrack for a collage of Dale Earnhardt highlights, after the NASCAR driver was killed at the 43rd Daytona 500.

It was an interesting choice, proving once again that songs don't necessarily mean what their composers mean them to mean. The classic example, according to me, is Randy Newman's "I Love L.A." -- an incisor-sharp critique of the superficial values and shallow mentality of Los Angeles. Yet it's been adopted by many as sort of the unofficial pep song of L.A. Proving Newman's whole thesis, I guess.

Same, sort of, with "Still the Same." The song describes someone who gets away with a lot of selfishness and destructive behavior, based on a huge charm reservoir. Not unlike a recent president you might recall, though the 1978 song is actually based on "an amalgamation of characters I met when I first went to Hollywood," Seger said (in an interview with Gary Graff).

"The person I'm singing about...they have tremendous faults...but you overlook everything because of the charisma. That's a gift and a curse," Seger later told Bob Costas on, uh, Later with Bob Costas.

So the hero of the song is hardly a hero. And yet folks who saw the Earnhardt collage on FOX or UPN or wherever it aired were quite moved by it. Some even wrote the Seger File requesting a copy. Which of course is available only to members. (Note: Seger File membership is closed until next April 1.)


A couple weeks after the Earnhardt tribute, FOX-TV did a little news-feature on the crews that move the NASCAR teams from city to city. Seger File reader Chip Stewart wrote to let me know that they backed the video with about 90 seconds of "Travelin' Man."

No sooner was that off the air than Garth Brooks took up the torch, telling a country radio convention that "if he ever gets his next album done, he hopes listeners will be reminded of Bob Seger."

Said Brooks, "Where Bob Seger was in the '70s is where I want to be, singing what I call 'blue-collar soul.'" (Hmm...where exactly was Seger in the '70s? That's a decade that saw Seger soar from "Lucifer" to "We've Got Tonight," with "Get Out of Denver" in the middle.")

When asked for an example of Seger-channeling on his forthcoming album, Brooks said, "I ripped him off a million times," and then, "as if to prove his point, performed a seamless medley of Seger's 'Turn the Page' and his own 'The Thunder Rolls.'" Quotes from Ray Vaughn, March 5, 2001, "Garth Brooks Covers Seger, Talks New Album During Convention Set."


Well, who better to be ripped by than Brooks, you ask. An answer, hypothetically, is provided by Catgod29 in the alt.elvis.king newsgroup. Okay, that's not exactly mainstream media, and the posting isn't exactly new (October 2000), but I still found it interesting:

"I think had Elvis lived, some of the songs Bob Seger was writing around that time would've proved irresistible to him and feel he would've recorded several of the songs on Bob's albums, particularly on the 'Against The Wind' album. I think Elvis would've enjoyed performing 'Her Strut' or 'You'll Accompany Me,' and strongly identified with the lyric content in 'Against The Wind.' Bob Seger, more than Bruce Springsteen, was writing the kind of rock songs I believe Elvis wanted to record but could never find in the later years."

To which I can only add, hey, if you talk in your afterlife, don't mention my name.


Finally, the Seger File itself was in the news recently, quoted in a well-researched and detailed article on the use of rock songs in TV ads. The piece, by music writer Joel Reese of the Chicago Daily Herald, takes a thought-provoking look at the pros and cons of this ever-more-prevalent practice. Is it still considered "selling out?" Or is it actually a way to reach a broader audience? In other words, who's using who?

As someone who writes ads for a living, and listens to music to stay alive, I found Reese's article captivating. You can check it out here...and note the evenhanded and pointedly nonjudgmental quote from me at the end.


One more thing: I take it all back. My evenhandedness, I mean. Sure, at the time I told Reese that, while I don't enjoy hearing my favorite songs in ads, I also don't presume to tell artists what they can and cannot do with the work they create in the Gospel According to Me.

But I can tell advertisers what's okay and what's outrageous, having worked in the field for 12 years. And what's outrageous is the latest and most offensive "Like A Rock" commercial yet -- one that takes the emotional heart of the song and tramps on it.

Most of the ads give you 15 or 20 seconds of slide guitar (Rick Vito's, I assume) and then two lines of Seger doing the "Like a rock" tag. Not too offensive, as ads go. The new one, the one that pisses me off, chops up the bridge. "Twenty years now," Seger sings. "Where'd they go? Twenty years...I don't know." Then there's a cute little edit. Does Seger sit and wonder sometimes? Not in Chevy's version. The spot goes straight to the slogan.

To which I say, there's a difference between using a song and ruining it. And when you take it apart and put it back together in a different order, you're doing a chop job. Nothing else. If I had a Chevy, I'd sell it.

Meanwhile, rival truckmaker Ford attacks Like A Rock in their current spot: Some hapless Chevy guy is pulling his boat and trailer out of the water when the whole rig gives out and goes under. "Boy, that sunk fast," he says. Yeah, says the Ford owner who comes to his rescue. "Like a rock."

So, it's the death of evenhandedness. The best we can hope for is a new album, so we can turn the TV off and take our minds off this whole truckin' business.

April 13, 2001


Medicated Top Twenty

Nothing to do while you're waiting for Seger's new album? Follow my example and have minor knee surgery. You get time off from work, plus the pleasing buzz of modern pain medication. I used the time to list about 17 Seger songs I'd like to play today. Then, for the heck of it, I threw in nine more classic rock hits not by Seger.

Unfortunately, the list is written in Percocet, the international language of the state of nirvana. Can you translate them back into English?

1. The Perambulation Technique of an Unspecified Female

2. Having Many Mineral Qualities

3. In Opposition to the Phenomenon of Unseen Resistance

4. My Identity Is Equivalent to a Arctic Marine Mammal

5. Male Defined by Migration Habits and High Risk-Tolerance

6. I Yearn For Comforting and Innocent Physical Contact With You

7. Propped Up Against My Aspirations and Beliefs

8. You Are Essential To Me

9. Meritorious Oscillations

10. Especially Under Present Circumstances

11. A Physically Impossible Geographic Relationship to An Orbiting Body

12. Internal Combustion

13. My Rebellion Against Legal Authority Was Ultimately Unrewarding

14. Vessel Bearing Individuals Distinguished by Their Lack of Wisdom

15. Music Has A Perfect Memory

16. Female and Human, But With Qualities Anthropomorphically Associated With Carnivores of the Dog Family

17. Male and Human, But With Qualities Anthropomorphically Associated With Carnivores of the Dog Family: Give It Up For Him

18. Smoke on the Water

19. The Result of the Interstate Transportation System Acting In Loco Parentis

20. For Us, Egress Is Imperative

21. Having Familiarity With Numerous Supporting Surfaces

22. Apply Energy Until I Achieve Combustion

23. No Longer In Possession of Pinpoint Accuracy

24. An Ascending Platform to Another World

25. The First Portion of Pitch Compositions Possessing Figurative Weight

26. Effect My Exit Through Repetitive Circular Motion

Answers to be posted at an undefined point in the indeterminate future, possibly October.

March 22, 2001

 


Second Chance

Chances are you'll hear Seger on TV tonight...if you're watching Ally McBeal, that is. The popular show closes with a full rendition of "Chances Are," Seger's overlooked gem from the 1998 movie, Hope Floats. It's sung by other people on the Ally McBeal version. On the other hand, it's used dramatically, providing the soundtrack for romantic footage of two lovers. The movie threw the song away, in my opinion, by using it over a daughter / father scene in a nursing home. Maybe the McBeal version will give the Seger / McBride version another life. The song certainly deserves it -- it's a great one. And it's nice to see that the hippest TV culture-makers still find relevance in Seger's work.

January 15, 2001


Photo Inbox -- The Giant Floating Seger Head and Other Shots: Still More New Photos Added

When I first launched the Seger File -- almost exactly three years ago -- I was strangely proud that there were almost no graphics on the site. It seemed like the rest of the web was full of flashy graphics. Every site had the obligatory "Gallery." In contrast, the Seger File was pure content, in old-fashioned written form. I'm a writer, so why not fill the site with words? Plus, my computer tended to crash every time it encountered Java or anything remotely like it.

Over time, though, I've come across quite a few good photos and graphics relating to Seger. Usually these graphics collect digital dust on my hard drive for months before I add them to the site.

Now, instead of letting them sit, I'm breaking down and adding a photo page. I'm not calling it a Gallery, though...I won't go that far. It's the Photo Inbox. New graphics will live there for a while (months, probably), until I get them placed on the appropriate page within the site.

So, to see the Giant Floating Seger Head and a variety of other cool shots, visit the Seger File Photo Inbox by clicking here or on the "Detroit Magazine" photo below. Both links take you there. The second photo below -- showing Seger with producer and friend David Cole -- is from David Cole's site. (The logo next to it will take you to Cole's site.) Thanks especially to Diane Burkey, Bill Cook and Kevin Walsh for keeping me up-to-date on Seger images.

 

 

January 17, 2001

 


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