BOB SEGER: Still Got the Moves & Grooves

So many artists lose the plot as they grow older. But like Tom Petty, you‘re still writing great songs.

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In my case it is hard work. I love all the stuff Tom writes including the [Traveling] Wilburys’ stuff. He’s just a great…but I can’t speak for how Tom does it. In my case it’s, “Write another one, write another one, write another one,” and keep the muscle flexed. Then when you finally get something that jumps out at you…you know when it’s good.

The riff for “Satisfaction” came to Keith Richards in a dream. Have there been any songs that arrived like a gift?

The closet one is probably “Hollywood Nights.” It’s very seldom that I’m driving in a car and something rolls into my head. I was out in Los Angeles and I was just beginning to record Stranger In Town. I had a house out in the Hollywood Hills, and I’d be driving up there in the Hollywood Hills and then suddenly, “Hollywood nights, Hollywood Hills, above all the lights, Hollywood nights.” It just came right into my head. So I turned right around and drove home [laughs] and I’m singing this in my head thinkin’, “Don’t forget it, don’t forget it! Don’t turn on the radio!” I get home and I sing it into my little cassette recorder. That was one that came out of nowhere.

Share the inspiration behind a few classics starting with “Turn the Page.”

I never thought that song would last as long as it has. That song captured something. I wrote “Turn The Page” in 1971 and it was the eighth or ninth year of that ten year period where I was going nowhere fast. I was in a Holiday Inn and I’m in the bathroom with an acoustic guitar picking “Turn the Page.” The night before we’d been harassed at a truck stop in Wisconsin at two in the morning by some salesmen who kept calling us “girls” because we all had long hair. So we left because we didn’t want to get into a fight and become some police report. The next night I’m sitting there singing, “Well you walk into a restaurant/all strung out from the road/And you feel the eyes upon you/as you’re shakin’ off the cold/You pretend it doesn’t bother you/but you just want to explode…” I was thinking about how these people hate you because of the way you look-how unreasonable it is. That became part of it, but the bigger thing I think was the real weariness of the road, and I tried to capture that. I think I captured it for truck drivers. I think I captured it for businessmen, for people who have to travel a lot and just plain miss home or family or both. I never thought that we’d have to play it over and over and over. I thought “Turn The Page” was too down of a subject matter and that no one is gonna want to hear it. But it’s real and it’s a portion of people’s lives.

Feel Like A Number.

I was real proud of that one. I was an auto worker for a brief time. I worked for six months making GM transmissions in Ypsilanti, Michigan.  I lasted six months there loading conveyors. Then I worked at another plant on an assembly line putting rubber around windshields, which is not good for a guitar player [laughs] so I didn’t do that for very long.  I think I only lasted a month there. But I was there long enough to get it into my head that you can become just a number. You’re just a statistic. You’re not really a person, you’re just a cog in a very gigantic wheel and it felt very uncomfortable to feel that way about myself. I tried to convey that in the song.

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