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
- 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
"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
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."
the long-awaited NUTRA legislation (National
Unreleased Track Requirement Act), mandating
unreleased tracks on all remastered CDs.
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
Mary Lou Lord
issues a new CD and gets the recognition she
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
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
Rock wears a Segerfile.com t-shirt on national
television, causing a total meltdown of my local
again. Dick Cheney is taken to a secure
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,
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
(Note to parents:
Don't worry, the Headless
Salute to the
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
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.
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
- 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
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
(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.)
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
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
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
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
So, Punch, Bob --
here's my half of the interview: Click
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
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
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.
From Stranger to
Nine to '72: More Remasters Coming, Punch
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
"We will get to Back
in '72 at some point -- everybody keeps asking. It's
finding good master tapes more than anything," Punch
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
"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.
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
and Tour News
The Seger vs. Springsteen
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
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
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
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.
you're alone, you're alone,
you're alone, you're alone.
you're alone, you're alone.
you're alone, you ain't nothing but alone.
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
some kind of barbecue going on, and the
penguins have been left on the spit too
Well, whattaya know?
Maybe Springsteen is more poetically complex.
Let's try another example.
love is bigger than a Honda,
love is bigger than a Subaru.
truck is) Like a rock.
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.
baby does the hanky-panky*
so this is not a real Springsteen lyric.
But it's an incredibly dumb line.
time to get down and do the Horizontal
mother objected to this line when she
heard it. But the song makes a great
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
How Many Times
used to know all these Dylan tunes, but I never,
ever played them. I'd just sing 'em to myself.
quoted by Dave Marsh, May 1972, Creem. "Doncha
Ever Listen to the Radio...Bob Seger, Best in
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?"
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
They have a cool Dylan-lyric
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
- 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!
Thanks, Michael. I'm
on my way to the store right now.
A Polar Bear's Fur Is Actually Sort of a
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
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
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
- 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'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
This Is My
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
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
September 11, 2001
- It's a rite of
- through a
- Through a
- through a
- Hear the shriek
- hear the cry of
- Make a
- Of the greater
- This is all your
- It's your only
- Rite of
He's Like A Full
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
"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
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.
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
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"
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
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.
"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,
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.
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
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
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
what Jim said in response to my query about Seger's
- "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
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
Stuart Band website
for you. Here's what I appropriated from their recent
- "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
"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
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
check out beautiful Betsie
Bay and Elberta's now-vanished freight yard
linger long on Crapo
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
A bar in a little
lakeside town: The legendary Cabbage Shed.
Cabbage Shed. Seger sat at the table in the
Waiting on the
If the winds are
favorable, you might catch Seger on the web-cam this
Monday. No, not the legendary and fictional
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
Boy Mackinac Finish Line Web
(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.
Seger Wins Boat Race; Sparling Takes Second in
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
held in the garage of Seger DEW-liner Randy
Of the boat race,
Seger says, "We won by 24 minutes! Oh, we're just sky
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.'"
Detroit News, July 26, 2001. "Seger savors sail race
win, plans to finish album soon."
You can read the
rest of Whitall's
by following the links. The Detroit Free Press also
covers the race results, interviewing Seger's crew
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
and Tour News
page for the actual quotes plus a wait-and-see comment
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
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
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
Too Much of Nothing
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
- "What's that
- "I dunno. Tastes
kind of slimy."
- "Could it be
- "Nah. Tastes
more like axle grease."
- "Yeah. Or maybe
purified toe jam."
- "Whatever. Pass
me some more.")
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
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
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.
Crazed Loner Meets Thong
article contains no Seger news. The absence of Seger
news does not make this article better for your
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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
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
"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
More info is
available at the Rolling Dreams
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.
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
"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.)
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'
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
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
- "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
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
As someone who
writes ads for a living, and listens to music to stay
alive, I found Reese's article captivating. You can
it out here...and
note the evenhanded and pointedly nonjudgmental quote
from me at the end.
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
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
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
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
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.