BOB SEGER: Still Got the Moves & Grooves

Did your writing change at that point?

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I think so. Glenn Frey heard the initial tracks for the album. Incidentally, Glenn Frey sang background on “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” that’s how old a friendship we had. He told me when The Eagles first started out, even before they were backing up Linda Ronstadt, they were playing a few songs of mine like “Lucifer” and “Big River.” Glenn came back after he made it big with “Take It Easy,” and he listened to the songs on Beautiful Loser and said, “Now you’re starting to write…to get it. Now you take your time…the time it takes to write good songs.”

You co-wrote The Eagles number one hit, “Heartache Tonight.”

Yeah, “Heartache Tonight” started with me and Glenn at his house. I was playing bass and he was playing guitar. He had this little thing, “Somebody’s gonna hurt somebody.” He wanted to write a shuffle. So we’re playing and Glenn’s singing the verses and suddenly out of the blue, which happened to me with “Wreck This Heart” on my new album, the chorus came into my head. [Sings] “There’s gonna be a heartache tonight, heartache tonight, I know.”  I started singing that and Glenn goes, “Yeah!” I took what he was singing about and jumped right into the chorus. Then Glenn called [Joe] Walsh-it’s like one o’clock in the morning. Walsh comes down and starts playing guitar on it and he comes up with the bridge. Then J.D. Souther came in right after Walsh and helped Glenn with lyrics. The next day [Don] Henley chimes in and goes, “Oh yeah” and he starts writing a lot of the lyrics. So that’s how that song happened. Several months later they were stuck. We were up in Aspen and we were all celebrating New Year’s Eve together. They played me the basic track and I started singing something completely weird and different melodically in the song: “We can beat around the bushes. We can get down to the bone. We can leave it in the parking lot but either way there’s gonna be a heartache tonight, a heartache tonight I know.” And Henley said, “Wow!” [laughs], because that just came off the top of my head.

You often write about characters in your songs.

I think narratively. I really admired people like Kris Kristofferson. You listen to something like “Me & Bobby McGee” and you know those characters…what they’re like. Or a song like “Sunday Morning Coming Down.” You know that those people are living the road life or living the blues.  I really admired that. Of course, [Bob] Dylan was a huge influence on everybody.

How about Springsteen?

Yes, later. What I really gleaned from Bruce was just tremendous passion in his lyrics. You also get that from Henley and Dylan too.  Bruce is a great writer. Back then Henley was a little unsure about Bruce and we were friends. I said, “Well, listen to this line ‘They’ll meet ‘neath that giant Exxon sign that brings this fair city light.'” [Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland”] and Henley said, “Okay, I’ll buy the album” [uproarious laughter].

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