BOB SEGER: Still Got the Moves & Grooves

“How will I be remembered, will my critics be unkind?” reflects Bob Seger in the introspective lyrics that frame “The Answer’s In The Question,” a song culled from his new CD Face The Promise.

Bob Seger clearly has nothing to worry about; at age 61, Seger’s track record speaks for itself. A 2004 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, he is celebrated as one of classic rock’s most talented and successful elder musical statesmen. A remarkably gifted songwriter, Seger’s work is beyond reproach. Just take one look at the numerous rock standards he’s penned throughout his career: “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” “Mainstreet,” “Turn the Page,” “Beautiful Loser,” “Katmandu,” “Night Moves,” “Hollywood Nights,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Never Forgets,” “Against the Wind” and more. The list could fill pages.“How will I be remembered, will my critics be unkind?” reflects Bob Seger in the introspective lyrics that frame “The Answer’s In The Question,” a song culled from his new CD Face The Promise.

Bob Seger clearly has nothing to worry about; at age 61, Seger’s track record speaks for itself. A 2004 inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, he is celebrated as one of classic rock’s most talented and successful elder musical statesmen. A remarkably gifted songwriter, Seger’s work is beyond reproach. Just take one look at the numerous rock standards he’s penned throughout his career: “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” “Mainstreet,” “Turn the Page,” “Beautiful Loser,” “Katmandu,” “Night Moves,” “Hollywood Nights,” “Rock ‘N’ Roll Never Forgets,” “Against the Wind” and more. The list could fill pages.

Blessed with a soulful, whiskey-flavored voice, Bob Seger’s songs are spun like little movies, full of sweeping vistas and colorful small town characters that come alive in the grooves. His impeccably crafted songs embody a decidedly American slant, drawing together weighty blue-collar struggles, ambitions and hopes, with the heartbreak and dreams of the everyman.

A native of Ann Arbor, Mich., Bob Seger was kickin’ out the jams in Detroit’s Motor City since the early ‘60s with such outfits as The Decibels, The Town Criers and The Omens. Signing to Capitol Records in 1967, Seger’s anti-Vietnam anthem, “2+2= ?,” failed to make a ripple except in his hometown. Slowly building a reputation with his incendiary live shows, Seger’s rep as a rising star grew throughout the heartland-bolstered by the No. 17 placing of “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” Routinely undertaking a punishing tour slate of over 250 dates a year, he was the hardest working man in show biz. A succession of albums-Noah, Mongrel, Brand New Morning, Smokin’ O.P.’s, Back in ‘72 and Seven-attracted little national interest, but Seger forged on, unrelenting in his burning drive to make it at whatever cost.

In 1976, he rocketed to national stardom with Live Bullet, an explosive tour-de-force showcasing the commanding power of Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet band. Not long after Live Bullet resuscitated Seger’s career, the defining album Night Moves (1976)-which illustrated his growing talents as a songwriter par excellence-came along. 1978’s Stranger In Town and 1980’s Against The Wind delivered further on the artist’s creative and commercial promise, resulting in more gold and platinum records and sold out tours. Throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s, Seger continued to create magic in the studio with the albums Nine Tonight, The Distance, Like A Rock, The Fire Inside and It’s A Mystery.

Face The Promise, his first new studio album in 11 years and nineteenth overall, is a confident and impressive return to form that ranks among the artist’s best work. Mining a winning swath of rock, blues, country and funk, the album is an extraordinary 12 song cycle demonstrating Seger’s gift as a top rate songwriter is undiminished.

You weren’t an overnight sensation; it took a good 10 years or more before you made it. What kept you going all of those years in the face of obstacles?

I had some small successes along the way like “Ramblin’ Gamblin Man” and then we had local singles that did well. We were able to play 800 to 1,000 seaters and fill ‘em-so we were able to make a little bit of money. I remember looking at my income tax form in 1972 and I think I made $8,200 and we probably played 200 shows [laughs]. I probably spent $7,000 of it on equipment. We never got a tepid reaction. I was always a high energy act…we rocked and people that liked rock and roll liked us. It’s as simple as that. We didn’t have the record company interest that we wanted. At that point I wasn’t much of a songwriter because I was on the road all the time, and I didn’t have any time to write. I can’t tell you how disheartened and tired I got, but I never gave up. After everybody had gone and the venues were empty, I remember some nights looking back at stages when I was so disillusioned and said, “You’re not gonna chase me off…that’s my stage and I’ll be back next time.”

The record that broke you nationally was Live Bullet, which reflected what you did best.

We were definitely a better live act. In ‘73 we did 265 shows. You play 265 shows in 365 days and you’re gonna be pretty tight as a band. When we finally hit at Cobo Hall, we were snappin’ tight. We were ready to be heard as a live band. I had no idea if Live Bullet would be successful. I had no objectivity. Live Bullet went platinum in six months. Then Night Moves came out about six months after that and they both went platinum on the same day-suddenly we were off and runnin’.

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