Return to the Vault

A Seger File Special Feature
The Seger File is an unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger. This section of the Seger File last updated November 29, 2004 For the most current updates, click here.
Written and Edited by Scott Sparling
sparling@segerfile.com

Tomorrow
Northern Lights
Love Will Find A Way
Melting Pot
Runaway Train
Satisfied
Kuwait
Cold Dark Night
Let Me Try
Got No Shadow
Hollow Man
Something More
Finding Out
Numbers Game
Lioness Girl

Once More Into the Vault
 
Last May, I paid a second visit to the Seger Vault. With me once again was my friend (and retired Capital VP) who I call Ears Two -- E2 for short. As it was last year, E2's rock and roll acumen was invaluable as we sifted through a jumbo-sized Ziploc bag containing nearly 20 tapes. In the coming weeks, I'll report on unreleased Seger tracks from the past three decades. And, like last year, we'll start with one of the very best.
 
[Note: "Tomorrow" was an unreleased track at the time of my vault visit. It is now included on Greatest Hits 2. Here's my write-up before the song was released -- SS.]
 
Tomorrow
 
Some songs establish themselves instantly. Play the first two seconds and the landscape of the song is all around you. "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man' works that way with its opening drum figure. A lot of rock songs use power chords for the same effect: think of "Communication Breakdown" by Led Zeppelin. When "Tomorrow" eventually gets released, you'll think of it exactly the same way.
 
Three identical power chords blast "Tomorrow" out of the starting gate. The tape wasn't on very long when E2 turned to me and said, "AC/DC." Not to say that the song is derivative. Far from it -- it's one of the most original rock songs I've heard in a long while.
 
Here's how "Tomorrow" looks when a sophisticated music writer like me captures its subtle nuances. This is a sneak peak showing the exact notation in my secret Seger notebook, so stand back:
 
"Boom Boom Boooom. (boomba boomba boom.)"
 
The booms are the power chords. The boomba thing is a descending guitar figure. In other words, these are chops that are gonna get into your head and stay there a long, long time. I can hear them like thunder right now, and it's been two months.
 
In interviews two years ago, Seger referred to "Tomorrow" as the title track. I hope it is, because it immediately says Against the Wind was then, and this is now. (Not that I don't love Against the Wind.)
 
And then there's the lyrics.
 
They say the sun
Is gonna grow some day.
It's gonna get real close
And burn us all up.
 
Put that on top of the three power chords and you start to feel the power of the vocal: Grow. Some. Day. boomba boomba boom. Get. Real. Close. boomba boomba boom. And so on. This is not the music of someone who's mellowed out. This is a song with all the fight of the hardest Seger stuff. E2 called it one of the high points of everything we heard.
 
Lyrically, you'd have to say the song is apocalyptical. "You can beg and steal and borrow," Seger sings in the bridge. "It won't save you from the sky."
 
There seems to be a single back-up singer during this section, but she's not there to smooth things over -- she wails. The effect is perfect. It reminds me of Mary Clayton backing up Jagger on Gimmie Shelter.
 
Maybe there's a Tom Waits influence here, or maybe what we're getting is a side of Seger that's always been there and is now set free by what Waits has done. Either way, the lyrics are definitely not linear -- yet they connect. Try this:
 
I want to see a show of hands
Tell me the truth now
What happens if
Neutrinos have mass.
 
For a power chord rock song, that's either a bizarre line or a brilliant line, or maybe, like Waits, it's bizarrely brilliant. If you're looking for a put-down, you could say it's an example of what happens when guys in their fifties write rock songs. (If Seger were 20, the line would be about Latinos and ass.) Personally, I like it. It takes me somewhere completely unexpected, and in this era of packaged entertainment, I'm definitely ready to follow Seger into some weirdness.
 
And I love how he brings it back at the ending. In the closing verse, the apocalyptic song becomes a song celebrating little pleasures, even as the sky grows dark.
 
Here's to the little things.
The sports section.
The Weather Channel.
A good battery. (boomba boomba boom.)
 
The version I heard was recorded in late 2000 or early 2001, so it's been on the shelf (or on the remix deck) for a couple of years. "I can't promise you tomorrow," says Seger, but I can promise you that this one is worth waiting for.

Update:
 
Longtime Seger File reader Bill Wolski has been quoted on these pages before. Recently, he sent me a quick note to shed some light on the subject of neutrinos:
 
Seger, as you know, is an avid astronomy buff, and apparently, he's well-read on the subject. Recently, the idea has been put forth that neutrinos -- subatomic particles that were once thought to be utterly massless -- may indeed possess some minute quantity of mass.
 
Given that they exist in greater amounts than atoms and may very well be the most common particle in the universe, their tiny masses combined may add enough to the overall amount present in our universe to give it enough gravity to bring its expansion to a screeching halt one day and actually reverse it in a hypothetical event known as the Big Crunch.
 
This idea raises a plethora of further questions, ultimately leading to the implication that history may repeat itself, over and over and over, with the same universe being born and reborn the same exact way, and all of us living the exact same lives once every 50 billion years or so, again and again for all eternity.
 
Wish you didn't know now what you didn't know then? :)
-- Bill Wolski

Northern Lights
 
Ears Two got to this one first and then handed me the tape: "There's something really derivative about this one," he said, "but it works."
 
He was absolutely right. "Northern Lights" doesn't take us to new territory. Rather, it takes us to a territory that's already been staked out by Creedence Clearwater (think of the feel and energy of "Old Man Down the Road," or "Green River") and T-Rex (think of the chord changes in "Bang A Gong").
And you know what? It doesn't matter one bit. Because when you're there with Seger, you're there with a master. You got handclaps, you got big guitar, you got everybody in the arena on their feet, if he were to play it live.
 
This ain't art here, this is feel-good foot-stomping rock, and in this realm Seger is no pretender or copycat -- he owns this song from the first exuberant line. "Went out after midnight / looked up high / saw a hundred million / shinin' in the sky."
 
"Northern Lights" was recorded in 1989 and perhaps it didn't sound "modern" enough to include on The Fire Inside. Still, in my opinion, it would have improved that album tremendously if "Northern Lights" had replaced the pro forma "She Can't Do Anything Wrong." (In my demented imagination "She Can't Do Anything Wrong" was included solely so they'd have a rave-up, show-closer in case they decided to tour. I can't back that up with anything, though.)
 
At the very least, "Northern Lights" should have been the bonus track on the CD, the way "Fortunate Son" was on Like A Rock. (But of course, Seger doesn't put bonus tracks on his CDs anymore. See, a bonus track would take more time to listen to, and time is money, so he's really just saving us…okay, I'll stop here.)
 
Gimme old dirt roads
Country air
Clean and rugged
Honest and fair
You got your big oak trees
Great big fields
I'm gonna raise the dirt up
Under my wheels
 
There's nothing too fancy about a line like "great big fields" but the best rock and roll isn't fancy. That's the beauty of it.
 
E2's notes for "Northern Lights" sum it up perfectly: "Among the best of the day." Rock on.

Love Will Find A Way
 
E2's gonna kill me for this, but in "Love Will Find A Way" I thought I heard something like -- I'm almost afraid to say it -- well, something almost McCartney-esque in here.
 
Okay, let me back up. First of all, "Love Will Find A Way" was a hard song to get. What I mean by that is this:
 
When someone writes a song, it's with the hope that it will slip into your head unbidden and take root there. I can't wait for that process to happen in the vault. I've got two days and 19 new songs that I can't record. So I try to jam them into my head. The word I use is "imprint." I listen to the song five or six times. I sing along. I make crazy notes to show where the beat falls.
 
At the end of the day I go back to the hotel to see which songs I've imprinted. The ones I can't remember get special attention the next day.
 
"Love Will Find A Way" required a lot of effort on both days. I listened and listened and listened. And at the end of two days, I had nothing. No melody, no memory of the song at all. It just wouldn't imprint.
 
Maybe that's because, as E2 writes, "Love Will Find A Way" is "dental-work slow."
 
But two days after leaving the vault, the song blossomed for me. I was in the shower in a Holiday Inn in Tennessee and I found myself humming the song. That's when I decided it might be McCartney-esque.
 
Here, a disclaimer: Nobody I know appreciates Macca more than Ears Two. And after comparing "Love Will Find A Way" to dental work, E2 notes that the song "peters out almost altogether in the middle." The lyrics, he says, are sub-standard. So I'm all alone on this one.
 
Or maybe not. Because by McCartney-esque, I don't mean this outtake approaches Sir Paul quality. Part of McCartney's songwriting genius lies in his ability to fashion melody lines that are utterly charming in their simplicity. Unassuming, yet unforgettable. I'm thinking of songs like "My Love" and "Let 'Em In." Whether you're a McCartney fan or not, I bet you can hum those songs. They imprint.
 
This song falls far short of that. But I wonder if Seger might have been aiming for that style when he wrote "Love Will Find A Way." The chorus, with it's final "To you" reminds me especially of McCartney's phrasing in the line "only my love does it good…to me."
 
Love will find a way,
I hear someone say
Love will find a way
To you.
 
Seger touches the words lightly, not pushing anything at us. The instrumentation is equally simple in the track we heard: spare chords with a hi-hat keeping time.
 
There is, I assert, something charming about the simple melody of this song. But simple is a tough thing to pull off. It has to work all the way, and when it does, it's timeless, as fans of McCartney know so well. When it doesn't work…well, I admit my notes for "Love Will Find A Way" include the summation "good vocals, but dirge-like."
 
"Love Will Find A Way" was recorded in 1988, about the same time Seger recorded the original version of "The Fire Inside." My guess is that "Always In My Heart" easily bumped LWFAW off the track list for that album. There's a seed of something here, but only that. My sense is that "Love Will Find A Way" is a simple, summery melody that didn't quite find a home.

Melting Pot
 
At that same time Seger recorded LWFAW, he also recorded "Melting Pot" -- hands down the most amazing unreleased Seger song I've ever heard. Could this possibly be the same artist in both songs? From McCartney to Lou Reed, from lilting to howling.
 
Start with this, Seger fans: we've been blessed by the wealth of material Seger has released over three decades. And -- we've been outrageously cheated by the fact that this song remains in the vault. It didn't take long to imprint this one, but it'll take a long, long time to forget it.
 
"Melting Pot" is a dark, moody, angry song about the inner city. There's a gorgeously sinuous repeating cello line throughout, possibly a descendant of something born in "I Am the Walrus." There's an unhurried baseline that might put you in mind of "Walk on Wild Side." But references aside, everything's original here. You can see the buildings and smell the city here in a way that's completely Seger's.
 
The first verses are not sung but spoken. Seger begins in the same deep voice that later appears on "Manhattan," but at times (as in the second line about the rain) he lets the words take flight just a little -- not really singing, but a kind of preliminary. Then the dead-flat knowing voice returns for the rest:
 
Steam rising off these inner city streets
After a midnight rain.
The hooker's heels click hard and grind against the pavement.
Some things never change.
 
A dealer leans against a lightpost
Waiting for a rich kid slumming for a score
A young couple shouting and arguing
Start their baby crying
Behind some bolted door.
 
After setting you up with this, Seger suddenly tips his head back and gives it to you full throttle. The effect is amazing:
 
The dispossessed lie prone along the alleyways
Talking to themselves.
A reckless cop comes racing by
No one looks you in the eye.
 
The narrative of the song concerns a young woman in the inner city, wondering how she'll survive or if she'll ever escape from "the hottest spot in the melting pot."
After hitting you with his howl, Seger takes the vocal down to a whisper for a verse about politicians. You know the howl is coming back for the final verse, and when it does, it stuns.
 
Politicians come 'round near election day,
Promise things will change.
Most don't pay them any mind.
They leave, and everything just remains the same.
 
This neighborhood's unlivable,
Full of racial tension, drugs and crime.
Everyone would like to leave,
Find a place where they could breathe.
 
This song is good. Amazingly good. The message is bleak -- and maybe that's why the track is unreleased -- but it's true. And it's Seger showing his true vocal genius.

Runaway Train
 
I was looking forward to "Runaway Train," based on the name alone. I thought it might be a song with a lot of headstrong energy. I wasn't disappointed.
 
"Runaway Train" is a high-energy, uptempo rocker. It was written by Seger, Craig Frost and Tim Mitchell -- the same three who wrote "Lock and Load," "Revisionism Street," and "Hands in the Air." (Seger alone writes the words, while all three contribute to the music.) All four songs were written for It's A Mystery, apparently, but "Runaway Train" didn't make the cut.
 
Too bad. It's the fastest song of the bunch, the beat is more fluid and the words come at you like freight cars zipping through the night. I'm the first to admit I don't know my chords, but my uneducated guess is that there's some kind of minor chord thing going on in the chorus to subtly suggest the lonesome train whistle. The chords sound a little dark to me, is all I'm saying.
 
If your threw "Get Out of Denver" and "Aftermath" in the dryer together, you might have something like "Runaway Train." Or stretch your imagination around this: "Fire Down Below" at twice its normal tempo. Instead of a funky thing, it becomes a full-speed synthy thing.
 
And the words are weird. Weird good or weird bad, you ask. Weird good. Wonderfully good, in my opinion.
 
"Sometimes I stumble, sometimes I fall
The angels of my nature won't accept last call.
I stop thinking, I just react.
Before I know it everything turns black
I'm on a highway, utterly juiced
Out of control and impossibly loose.
Uncomprehending, without a clue
I don't know where I'm going, I don't know what I'm gonna do.
 
I'm like a runaway train,
Screaming through the back ten
Running through the rain
Like a runaway train."
 
In the middle of this high-energy romp, Seger practically speaks, rather than sings, the third verse. I love it.
 
"I can't explain the unexplainable.
It's like, where's the electron gonna be next?
Do we really die for love and glory
Or only for wealth and sex?
Is there a reason why I'm on this road?
Is it random or ordained?
Is everyone in the world dead tonight?
Am I the only one that's sane?"
 
Vocally, that last couplet ("Is everyone in the world dead tonight?") has the same oomph and intonation of "Presto! Payday!" from "Revisionism Street." And it gets even better. By the last verse, Seger's back into full astrophysics mode.
 
"We approach the speed of light, we approach infinite mass
We can't cross over or the future becomes the past.
It's nice to know there's limits, nice to know there's walls
But when you're on a bender you don't believe that at all
There's only moving forward, picking up speed
Motion feels like freedom, sometimes that's all you need,
There's the wind in you hair, the cold on your brow
Nothing else matters, you're alive right now."
 
That line, "There's only moving forward, picking up speed," is where you most hear "Fire Down Below" -- in phrasing and feel it's a lot like "Here comes hot Nancy, she's stepping right on time."
 
As far as I'm concerned, we need rock songs that ask "Where's the electron gonna be next" and remind us that "Motion feels like freedom, sometimes that's all you need."
 
But the obvious question is this: Should "Runaway Train" have pushed out "Hands In the Air," "Lock and Load" or "Revisionism Street" for a spot on It's A Mystery?
 
The answer is probably no. For all its good points, "Runaway Train" doesn't rise to the level of those other three songs. Maybe it's the arrangement, or the subject matter, but it's just not as joyous or as fun. It's got all kinds of forward motion, but not as much kick.
 
Ears Two summed it up pretty concisely: "All in all, a throwaway song with a nice AC/DC crunch riff." I wouldn't go that far, but "Runaway Train" definitely shows the idiosyncratic side of Seger. And of course, It's A Mystery was already too idiosyncratic (read: weird) for many fans. Not for me, but for many.

Satisfied
 
"Satisfied" was an unreleased track when I heard it in the Vault. Then, at the last minute, Seger added it as a new track to his Greatest Hits 2 CD.
 
The song, originally intended for his upcoming CD of new material, is the very definition of easygoing. It's a big, comfortable, laid-back shuffle, and Seger pulls it off to a T.
 
Slip Randy Newman's masterpiece "Bad Love" into your hard drive right now and taste a little of track 12, "I Want Everyone to Like Me." Seger's shuffle on "Satisfied" is like that, only slower and bigger.
 
(Anyone who doesn't own "Bad Love" yet has permission to leave for Amazon immediately. Otherwise, you're just going to have to imagine Newman's "I Love to See You Smile," which isn't as similar, but does have the same general beat.)
 
The trick with a good shuffle is to keep it simple, and Seger does that beautifully.
 
The track starts with a luscious drum roll, taking us into a keyboard thing that might be just a bit too restrained.
 
The lyrics do an interesting thing. Metaphorically, the lyrics operate like a curveball. You're pretty sure they're gonna miss the target, maybe go all the way to the backstop. Then they end up right over the plate and you're left there wondering how they did that.
 
It's the beginning that seems slightly off to me:
 
"I need some wisdom
I need some truth
I need some beauty
I need some proof…"
 
That seemed too generic for me. But it turns out it's just the setup for the killer hook.
 
"…and in the meantime, I need a place to hide.
If I had you, babe, I'd be satisfied."
 
 That line slays me. It's got the simplicity of some of Dylan's sweet love songs. Lyrically, it's easy to be clever, and much harder (but much more powerful) to be simple and true. That's what this line is.
 
There's a second verse on the Vault version that does not appear on the Greatest Hits version:
 
"I went to the city
Walked down the street
Saw wealthy faces
Filled with conceit
They looked so ancient
Almost petrified.
If I had you, babe, I'd be satisfied."
 
The lyrics in the bridge are pretty cool too.
 
"Who's gonna believe me
I'm a broken down dog
But I can still snarl with the best.
The train is leaving
We can catch it if we run
We can leave it all behind
This utter emptiness."
 
But it's the infectiousness and simple truth of that final line (which Seger uses to close every verse) that makes this song a winner. Now that it's released, "Satisfied" is going to be in my head for a long, long time.
 
Updated November 4, 2003

Kuwait
 
"Kuwait" was written in 1976. Jesse and I heard about it that same year and we've wanted to hear it ever since.
 
Twenty-seven years is a long time to wait. Was it worth it? Oh yeah. (For me, anyway. Jesse is not Ears Two, so for him the wait continues.)
 
"Kuwait" was written shortly after "Katmandu," so we thought it might be in the same mode. Wrong. E2 sums up "Kuwait" as "arguably the brightest (and strangest) track of the day."
 
No argument from me there. The track starts out with one and half minutes of extremely moody, extremely dark piano. (E2 played me the intro to Styx' "Suite Madame Blue" later that day, and there was definitely a similar feel.)
 
The piano rumbles through dark emotions and seems to go on much longer than 90 seconds. Then it stops.
 
After that, it's all rollicking and happy. "The sky is bluer than the sea, blue as it can be," Seger sings. Later, sifting through E2's amazing CD library, we played "Still the One," by The Orleans and agreed that the energy and beat was pretty similar. ("Sail On," an unrecorded Seger song available on some bootlegs is also similar in its uptempo, happy beat.)
 
"This time we've really made it," Seger sings,
"All the way.
This time we've got it made…"
 
There's a foot-tappingly good sax solo in the middle, and then more of the same lyrically:
 
"This time we're really done it,
Made the grade.
This time we've pulled it off
And we've got it made.
Kuwait."
 
Other than a reference to "the sandy wind," there's not a clue as to why this song is called "Kuwait." It just is.
 
"At the end," E2 writes, "there are a few piano crashes ala The Rascals' "See.'" And then the stormy piano from the opening returns.
 
Ultimately, neither of us understood the point of "Kuwait." But we both liked it. What else can you want?

Cold Dark Night
 
I thought "Cold Dark Night" might be one of Seger's soul-searching songs. Not by a long shot. E2 describes it, if I may paraphrase, as Chuck Berry meets Albert Einstein.
 
Take the rhythm of "Little Queenie" from the middle of "Let It Rock," blend in some darker chords, pick up the tempo and you've got the general feel. The Einstein part is in the lyrics: some of Chuck's children grew up and became physicists. Seger is clearly very interested in the subject, and this is another song that reflects it.
 
From a photon sphere
An elliptical dream
cascades from the heavens
to my TV screen
 
See the back of my head
reach infinite mass
I become somebody
I know at last...
 
As time slows down
as the light curves in
I can't escape
from the person I've been.
 
When the question's wrong
but the answer's right
I reign in the middle
of the cold dark night.
 
Each verse is its own little entity. We hear about orbits and chaos, points and waves, and other terms that relate to relativity. Some of the verses become little lists:
 
I'm ethics, I'm norms
I'm theory, I'm truth
I'm lies, deception
I'm ultimate proof
 
I'm too much knowledge
I'm not enough love
I burn below
I shimmer above.
 
The music never lets up and there are some great howling guitar solos here -- "I could hear Led Zeppelin doing this song," E2 wrote.
 
The tempo is almost breakneck speed and Seger bombards us with lyrics. Each little bit is intriguing, though I'm hard put to say what it adds up to. "I'm reason to live," Seger sings, "I'm reason for flight, out here to the middle of the cold dark night."
 
Of course, it's possible -- as with everything I heard in the vault -- that these are songs-in-progress, and that a more finished version would have been less mysterious. On the other hand, "Cold Dark Night" was recorded in 1992 for It's A Mystery, so maybe not.
 
I'm not sure the track I heard would have necessarily improved that album, but the bottom line is that it's Seger doing a Chuck Berry variation, and you can't go too far wrong with that. "Cold Dark Night" might not be an A side, but it sure was fun to hear.
 
Let Me Try
 
I've written at various times about polish -- some Seger songs have too much of it, I think. I like the tracks that sound more raw. "Let Me Try" certainly qualifies -- although perhaps what i heard was an early demo, and not the finished track. All it was was acoustic guitar, some simple drums, a little bit of piano, and a very subdued and deep-voiced Seger.
 
"Let Me Try" was recorded in 2001, and as with some of the other material from this era, I heard a slight Wilco feel in it, both in the simplicity and in the seriousness of the vocal delivery. In terms of comparisons, I suppose you could say that this descends from Jody Girl, but it is more somber and so in some ways more emotional.
 
Thematically, it's a love song that recognizes the darkness and corrosion of the world in which love has to operate -- it offers a measure of hope without making promises. The world is dark, and love offers only a hope of redemption, not a certainty.
 
"There are days that come
It just shows up
When the wheels come off
and it gets too rough...
 
When you're near the end
and it all feels wrong
and you're giving in
and your hope is gone.
Let me try. [pause] Let me try. [pause] Let me try."
 
It's slow and somber. But after you let it in -- after you slow down to its speed -- it's quite moving.
 
August 24, 2003, revised November 13, 2005

Got No Shadow
 
"Got No Shadow" is what you might call a dark rocker. Maybe just a little bit plodding, my notes say. Not an "A" side. But -- and this almost redeems it -- it's also a pretty good vehicle for the Seger snarl. Musically, "Shadow" is in the Wilson-Pickett-meets-hard-Detroit-rock vein, with a couple of great Seger wails.
 
The song was written in 1984, when Seger was somewhat past his snarling stage. The energy of the song is similar to "Tightrope," and the two tracks were probably duking it out for a spot on Like A Rock. The songs seem pretty equal to me, but I think I'd give "Shadow" the edge for its Wilson Pickett factor. "Tightrope" was arguably more "modern" at the time, though its synthy sound now dates the track terribly.
 
Having previously heard (and loved) "Carfax Abbey," I wondered if "Got No Shadow" was another vampire song. Answer: not really. If the vampire metaphor is at work here, it's way down in the subtext. "Shadow" seems to be mainly a song about a woman who slips away. Whether she slips away simply because she's elusive, or because she's a phony, is hard to know -- the lyrics don't tell us.
 
"I can almost see her
Walking through the mist of a moonlit night
I can almost hear her
Calling my name and it sounds so right.
 
I can almost feel her
Holding me warm against the cold cold wind
I can almost touch her
I reach for her and she's gone again.
 
I can tell when she's near
Then it gets so darn clear
I'm not sure she's what she seems
I can feel her so close
Then she moves like a ghost
And she passes through me like a dream."
 
Ears Two didn't have much to say about this track. There's some big guitar in this track which he thought evoked AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds." And he heard traces of Free's "Wishing Well" in the intro. I heard a Motown thing going on in some of the chord changes, but I can't tell you where it comes from. Stop by some time and I'll hum it for you.
 
In the end, Seger's vocals kept me listening, but the music and the lyrics didn't quite make the grade. So should "Shadow" be released? Tough question -- I'm on the fence on that one. Or maybe the tightrope.
 
Hollow Man
 
The first entry in my notebook for this track is "relentlessly synthy, but not in a bad way." Which seems like a contradiction in terms. As you might guess from that, "Hollow Man" was written by Seger and Craig Frost. It's one of three songs Seger and Frost co-wrote in 1990, none of which have been released.
 
Musically, this track is kind of a cross between the two Seger-Frost compositions on Like A Rock -- it isn't as dark as "Tightrope" and not as uptempo as "The Aftermath." It's got one great hook -- the title line, "Beware, beware the hollow man," on which Seger really wails. That line sent the meters up to ten, for me. The rest, I thought, was somewhat forgettable. This Hollow-Man guy would be a perfect match for the Got-No-Shadow woman, because neither of them are really there.
 
"There'll be pain and disappointment
You'll try and try and try
And he'll lead you down a one-way street
And he'll lose you by and by
Beware, beware, the hollow man."
 
That melody and delivery of "You'll try and try and try" took me to a strange place -- the second line of the second to last verse of Sunburst. There's a place I haven't visited in a while. ("He makes his great escape / leaves them in his wake"….)
 
"Plenty of energy, but it doesn't go anywhere," E2 says, and I have to agree. Good vocals, hollow song.
 
Something More
 
This song took a long time to take hold. It's more than slow -- it's almost stately with its dignified beat. I could imagine a slow drum cadence to this, though there wasn't one. But there was big production, with back up singers going wooo-hooo in a big slow, majestic way and castanets adding a dignified clickety-clack at the ends of most lines.
 
So let's review. The song is slow. (Think "Chances Are.") It might make something well up inside you, but it will tap no toes. And, for my tastes, it's over-produced. But the song is also interesting.
 
The narrator seems to be asking an uncertain lover to make a decision.
 
"When you've reached the point where nothing's in your way
When your family and your friends have had their say
When you're here at last, you're right outside my door
Is that all you want, or is there something more?
 
 For those of you keeping score, there is a "new uncharted shore" and a "restless wind" involved lyrically, marking it as an authentic Seger ballad. This is sit-down music, and to be honest I wrote it off the first few times I heard it. But the song has power. The more I heard it, the more I realized there's something very interesting going on in "Something More."
 
September 20, 2003, Revised November 13, 2005

Finding Out
 
"Finding Out" is another Seger ballad. It's the slow-blooming type -- if this were on a CD, it might be one you'd overlook at first. But slowly, it plants itself in your imagination and you wonder how that melody got in your head. (For me, "Coming Home" is a good example of a slow-blooming ballad, as opposed to say. "Turn the Page," which hooks you from the start.)
 
The piano in the intro of "Finding Out" carried just a hint of "Famous Final Scene" but it quickly resolves into something original. The song starts with the chorus. A back-up singer -- could this be Laura Creamer? -- provides an almost gospel-like vocal behind Seger as the song opens:
 
"Well I'm finding out about us,
How we give in to the obvious
While the heroes see the hill and rush
I'm finding out about us."
 
The piano nearly stops at this point. The quiet feeling is a little similar to "Always In My Heart."
 
In an October 2003 interview, Seger said, "I've got a ballad on the new album called "Finding Out," where I really nailed the lyric." I agree.
 
"Finding Out" is definitely worth hearing. It would be the perfect song for the end of an album -- or the end of a day -- when you can stop rushing and take all the time you want.
 
Numbers Game
 
I don't remember how music goes to this. Honest. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. But the lyrics concern a May/December romance -- older man, younger girl.
 
"Ten will get you seven
Every time you turn away, she'll eye someone
She can't help it, the girl is just too young
Odds are ten to one...
 
'Cause it's a numbers game
Your ages aren't the same
Makes it a numbers game."
 
The song was recorded in 1990, but didn't make it onto The Fire Inside.
 
Lioness Girl
 
Oddly enough, I don't remember the music to "Lioness Girl" either. Yet the lyrics stick in my mind. It's the strangest thing.
 
"Lioness Girl" is a song about the pursuit of "a strong-willed girl." In the first verse, Seger tells us, "I can laugh about it now."
 
"All the while she was playing her roles
She was acting her various parts
I fell in love with a strong-willed girl,
She terrorized my heart, she terrorized my heart."
 
By the end of the song, though, he's captured her, and the "red-hot lioness" is lying next to him. Written in 1990, "Lioness Girl" was presumably considered for The Fire Inside.
 
October 26, 2003 -- Revised November 13, 2005
 
 

A note on copyrights: The reports in this series quote lyrics under the provisions of the Fair Use statutes. To my knowledge, all the songs are copyrighted by Gear Publishing.

 

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As time slows down, as the light curves in, I can't escape from the person I've been. But you can send me e-mail if you want to.
sparling@segerfile.com