Vault V

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 July 22, 2006. For the most current updates, click here. Written and Edited by Scott Sparling sparling@spiritone.com
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The Seger File's Birthday Party
 
Unreleased Tracks
Vault V
10 more unreleased tracks
 
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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

Vault V

Every year for five years, I've paid a visit to the Vault -- my term for an extensive collection of Seger's unreleased tracks. This year was no exception.

By now, most readers know that the Vault is actually a large, locked cabinet at the bottom of Virginia's Luray Caverns -- the largest and most popular caverns in eastern America, not far the Blue Ridge Mountains. The subterranean location is great for controlling access, though the high humidity tends to degrade the tape -- something which Seger's management actually seems to prefer.

As always, I began this year's visit (henceforth called Vault V) accompanied by Ears Two, whose knowledge of and enthusiasm for rock and roll knows no bounds. A friend for more than three decades, he's called Ears Two (or E2) in these reports because he provides a second set of ears as we listen to the precious tapes.

This year's trip, however, was different. The trail into the cavern seemed steeper and the air was thinner than usual. Eventually, it got to me.

"I can't make it any farther," I said, gasping. "Leave me here alone. You go on without me."

"Okay, sure," Ears Two said. "But if you're not coming, I want my nickname upgraded to Ears One."

"Done."

He left me then, leaning against a stalagmite with only a box of unpublished lyrics to keep me occupied. Ears One went on alone, listening to four new songs from 2005.

Seger's Vault deep in the Luray Caverns.

Seriously, due to some sort of tape retrieval SNAFU, only E1 heard the tapes this year. In some ways, that makes it even more interesting to me: Now I'm on your side of the equation, trying to understand a song from someone's notes. But you couldn't ask for a better guide than Ears Tw-- uh, Ears One. Vault V begins below.

The Price
Too Late
Passing Through
Won't Stop
Good Luck Baby Jane
Lovers and Brave Strangers
Stranger In Town
Pumpin
Almost Home
So Easy
Could Have Been Right
To: Segerfile
From: Ears One
Re: The Vault

Bottom line: Several of the new tracks could be considered "country," mostly because Bob can drop his g's with the best of them and knows to use phrases like "big fun." No shoals or shores or moons among the lyrics today. "Passing Through" was the best of the bunch and should be on the new CD. "The Price" and "Won't Stop" need a little work but ought to be released someday. "Too Late" is a curiosity that might make for a decent boxed set track.

As for "Sightseeing," the version I listened to was indeed accordion-free. It sounded like it needed something -- something like an accordion, most likely! "Adelaide" was also in the bag and it was nice to hear it again. Actually, I was surprised at how fully formed it was and how well it told a story in comparison to most of the new songs.

I'm wondering about Bob's claims to be including songs that were recorded "three weeks ago... five days ago... ten minutes ago." All those years to prepare (and plenty of really good stuff already in the can) and then he uses a bunch of last-minute stuff? What's that all about, anyway? Hmmm.

Attached are my thoughts on the tracks I heard.

The Price

[Editor's comment: It's clear from E1's notes that this is a breakup song. Hope has disappeared and you feel like you're living a lie. There's a price to all that and it's...well, I don't want to give away the ending. Let's just say it's not low. Here's what E1 has to say.]

A slowly strummed show tune with a vocal that sneaks into the song. Very effective female vocal helps Seger finish. Reminiscent, overall, of "Landing In London," in a way, but nowhere near as powerful. Maybe also a bit like "Famous Final Scene." The music's pretty good, but the lyrics are depressing. Loved the first and second listens, liked the third, bailed during the fourth.

[Later, these emails arrived from E1.]

To: Segerfile
From: Ears One

I've had the end of "The Price" in my head today and realized that it bears a faint kinship to the fadeout of Elton John's "Levon," with lots of strings (or string sounds) going this way and that. The feel of the song and the timbre of Seger's voice bring to mind "We've Got Tonight."

To: Ears One
From: Segerfile

Which is a feel and timbre a lot of people like, though not me so much. (Someone recently called "We've Got Tonight" the best get-in-yer-britches song ever. What, even better than "Get In Yer Britches" by Severalmany Tractors?? I don't think so.)

To: Segerfile
From: Ears One

I've always had a soft spot for "We've Got Tonight," but there's one key difference between it and "The Price" -- the tune is staying with me, but the lyrics offer no hope at all, not even for a moment of bliss before everything comes crashing down.

Passing Through

[Editor's note: From the lyrics, the song seems to be a philosophical look at life -- we're all on this ride together, just passing through. Some of the lines have the brilliant, easy mastery of a Dylan lyric, to my mind: "I could tell you plenty that you might not need to hear / Maybe it's a blessing some things are left unclear." Here is E1's report.]

This is a "country" song that really ought to be on the CD and I hope it is. A melancholy yet upbeat tune that has a singalong feel from the get-go. Easy to picture a crowd swaying back and forth, mouthing the lyrics and paying homage to Seger as an elder statesman.

Nice low key work by the band -- no show-off stuff but solid backing.

Hints of many songs: The long lyric lines remind me of Burton Cummings' "Break It to Them Gently." The guitar fade takes me to "Who'll Stop the Rain." The cold ending is Beatlesque.

Won't Stop

[Editor's note: From the lyrics, I took "Won't Stop" to be a fast song -- mainly because it's got a lot of words in it. But no, E1 says it's a slow song. The lyrics are addressing you...you can throw your hands up, say you're gonna quit, drink all night, blame the world for your troubles. But guess what? It's not in you to quit, so you won't stop. There's a wonderfully graceful line -- "tyrants and kings do their usual things" -- that reminds me of what great economy Seger has as a lyricist. Here is E1's report.]

Definitely an attempt to go country -- a slow strummer. Synth comes up under second verse ("You can study…") and reminds me a little of ELP's "Lucky Man" build.

The "Tyrants and kings," section is superb, moody, heartfelt -- and ruined immediately by a hideous guitar solo (the soul-free guy is back and the amp's at 11).

It's just dawned on me that the part of "Won't Stop" I especially liked -- "Tyrants and kings do the usual things while you try to stay out of their way / Follow the truth and you'll find what you need every day" -- sounded a lot like something else we both know well: "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds." Imagine the "Follow" line sung as "Climb in the back with your head in the clouds and you're gone" and you'll have it.

Overall, a pretty good song but shouldn't be released until the guitar howl is removed.

[Editor's note: Gosh, the Internet can be a confusing place, with all its various contributors. Especially if you're a major recording star with other things on your mind. So to recap: Boston Sammy -- great guy from Boston. Scott Sparling- - Goes to Vault, doesn't actually steal songs. Ears One -- Hates your guitar solo. And doesn't actually steal songs either. Okey-dokey then.]

Too Late

Editor's note: The lyrics to this one sound country. It's a kiss-off song, ala "it ain't no use in turning on your light, babe." Only instead of Dylan, think maybe Tim McGraw. And instead of "babe," think "hon." There are some nice phrases here, my favorite being "Well I've never been wicked but I'm gonna learn how." E1's notes follow. I can't tell for sure, but I don't think he liked this song.]

This one's a clunker, a stomping "good 'ol boy" effort that falls short. No band seems present -- just someone bashing at an acoustic guitar and some sort of synthesized bass that sounds like a whoopee cushion tape loop.

Ends with an off-key guitar whack that sounds like it broke a string. Geez, I hope this isn't on the new CD. There are too many much better choices.

[Later, this email arrived:]

To: Segerfile
From: Ears One
Subject: Get Out of (John) Denver

I knew "Too Late" reminded me a little of something terrible, and it just came to me: The approach and the content both smack of "Thank God I'm A Country Boy." It's a song I've long despised, in large part because the Baltimore Orioles inexplicably use it as a seventh-inning-stretch anthem, which is just wrong. It wouldn't be hard to add a fiddle to "Too Late," unfortunately.

A sign near the Vault, meaning, Do Not Grope the Stalagmite. Or possibly, Keep Your Hands Off South America.

So there you have it: E1's take on four tracks you and I are probably never gonna hear. I, for one, am not going to miss the whoopee cushion bass loop.

Meanwhile, back at the stalagmite, I discovered another SNAFU. I was promised nine lyric sheets. Only eight were in the box. The one I wanted most -- "Suicide Streets" -- was missing.

But enough negativity. The box was eight/ninths full! Here's what was there.

Good Luck, Baby Jane

"Good Luck, Baby Jane," is a passed over track from the mid-1970s. Baby Jane will need the luck because her family wants to keep her on the straight and narrow. Twin brothers watch her "like a hawk / have you feeling guilty before you can walk." Her mother's picked out a finishing school. They're determined to keep her pure; it's a battle for her soul.

Pumpin'

"Pumpin'" -- another Seger song from the '70s -- consists of exactly nine words. In alphabetical order: All, Feelgood, Got, I'm, Long, Me, Mr., Night and Pumpin'.

I bet this song had a great Stax/Volt groove. But I don't read music, so we'll never know for sure.

Lovers and Brave Strangers

I thought this earlier version of "Brave Strangers" might be different from the album version, and it was, but only by a line or two. Instead of "We were players, not arrangers," this version goes, "She was lonely, I was easy, and we rolled till the dawn's early light." (Or else, "She was lovely, I was easy." Whoever was supposed to teach me good handwriting did a miserable job.) And the line we know as "So we walked out, hardly speaking" is represented here as "Quite contented, hardly speaking," which has a markedly different feel.

Stranger in Town

The song, I mean, not the album. Back in the old days -- when interviewers asked about songs, not supermodels -- Seger described "Stranger" pretty thoroughly, explaining what it meant to him and why he ultimately left the title track off the album. You can catch up with his comments here.

Seeing the full lyrics didn't change my understanding of the song much, or at all. The later verses are in the same vein as the first: "The moon rose full and high," people stayed inside, children whispered to each other, and "the lawman kept a watch on that hotel." I'd still love to hear this song, and presumably it would be a must for any boxed set.

Almost Home

A road song from a trucker's point of view. The phrase "Breaker, breaker" in the lyrics dates it to the mid 70s, when it was written. He's coming out of Chicago, over weight and looking for back roads, looking out for Smokey and popping speed (referred to here as "cross" for white cross).

Those elements sound like a lot of trucker songs of the era. But in later verses, Seger makes it specific to Michigan -- "Now I see Ann Arbor and I'm speeding up 14 then up 23." If you've driven those roads, as a lot of us have, the lyrics take on special meaning.

So Easy

A groupie song. She said, "you make it look so easy, I love the way you play." He "told her what she wanted to hear." By the final verse, everything's pretty easy "as we rolled out of sight." Which has a bit of a familiar ring to it.

Could Have Been Right

It coulda. "But it ended up wrong." In other words, a relationship song -- about a relationship that had promise but died. "Was it a dream? When did we start saying things we didn't mean?"


 A guide to previous Vault trips.
Vault 1
Face the Promise
Days When the Rain Would Come
Little Jane
Hit the Road
Anniversary
The Future's Now
Media Whipped
Like A Rock -- (unreleased version, extra verse)
Kentucky Moonlight
Hustled in Nashville
Comin' Home -- (unreleased version, extra lyrics)
Carfax Abbey
You'll Accomp'ny Me -- (unreleased version)
Shinin' Brightly -- (unreleased version)
Long Twin Silver Line -- (unreleased version)
Horizontal Bop -- (unreleased version)
Fire Lake -- (unreleased version)
Wounded Angel
Red Eye to Memphis
Hard Night for Sarah
Sunset
Elevator Button
White Monkey
Can't Hit the Corners
Babe
Stargazer
Snow Today
Star Tonight
Nine Tonight -- (unreleased version)
Wildfire
The Ring -- (unreleased version)
Answer's in the Question
 
 Vault 2
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
 
Vault 3
Blue Ridge
The Hard One
The Reckoning
Mr. Bottom
Forward Into the Past
Outland
Before
I Knew You When
Crossfire
Tonight
Dreamin'
It's Over
At Sea
You're My Girl
Good Neighbor
Love Changes All The Time
Your Best Friend
Hard to Make It Home
Amazed
More of You
It Passes For Love
Full Circle
Hard Enough
Maybe In A Minute
Fly Away
All Brand New
 
Vault 4
Time
Wreck This Heart
Wait For Me
Don't Ask
Are You
It All Goes On
Hero
Let the Rivers Run
Adelaide
Seems Like A Long Time
Black Linen, White Lace
Patient
Show It
Freewheelin'
Back In '72
Louise
Jet Set Woman
Along the Way


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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The trains that stopped for a hundred years, they just rumble through...a whole way of life is fading fast.... But occasionally I still answer my email:
sparling@spiritone.com