Moving ‘Old Time Rock and Roll’ into the digital age
If you’ve ever looked for songs by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band on digital outlets, you’ve likely been disappointed when the search yielded results by artists with names like Night Moves and the Ultimate Bob Seger Cover Band, and next to the song titles would be parenthetical disclaimers like “as made famous by Bob Seger.” But the classic rocker’s reluctance to go digital has finally subsided. This year has seen the release of two live albums, a rarities collection and Seger’s brand new ultimate hits compilation, “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” came out on digital on the same day it was in stores.
“I just felt it was time,” says Seger. “I was after my management to do it. We’re one of the last ones to do it, and I felt like I would like to have people have the opportunity to get it. As it goes along, we’re still doing it piecemeal, but that’s my management’s decision, and I don’t question that. I’ve had the same guy for 45 years, so I’ve been pretty fortunate so far, so I’m not going to question how he does business.”
There are a few other surprising revelations in the last portion of that quote: Firstly, that Seger has been in the business for at least 45 years, and secondly that he would have such loyalty to the same manager in an industry where the business is historically so fickle. But devotion and dedication have been constants in his career. Throughout an hour-long discussion, Seger makes sure to give his Silver Bullet Band members due credit.
“I love the way Alto played horn on it,” he enthuses about sax man Alto Reed’s part on the powerful road warrior ballad, “Turn the Page.” And he’s also quick to cite how he loves the energy that drummer Don Brewer brings to “Hollywood Nights.”
As for the length of his career, that’s well chronicled in the title track of “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.”
“I had like 12 years before I ever made any money,” he says. “We did a lot of clubs, and we did a lot of high schools, and you name it, outdoor things, and then after 12 years — in 1975 — I broke through.”
Rock and Roll Never Forgets (but sometimes it gets the dates wrong)
Years and the history of Rock and roll have always played an important part in Seger’s songwriting, as in his classic, “Night Moves,” he recounts, “I was humming a song from 1962.” So, what was that song?
“Oh, I’m glad you asked that,” he enthuses. “It was ‘Be My Baby’ by the Ronettes! And then I was fortunate enough, about 10 years ago, to meet Ronnie and tell her that, and she’s such a sweet kid, Ronnie Spector, and she told me something that just blew my mind, that she tried to sing like Frankie Lymon of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers from the 1950s, and I never put the two together, and then I listened to her and I said, ‘Oh my gosh, that’s right. She does sound like Frankie Lymon!’ [with] that long vibrato which is very unusual and very hard to do well.”
It turns out that “Be My Baby” actually came out in the summer of 1963. It was not without embarrassed apologies that this reporter delivered this correction to such a well respected singer.
“Oh wow,” says Seger with a surprised laugh. “Well, yeah, but I wrote the song in ’76, so I was already too old and getting my dates wrong!”
Hear more with Seger here.