Ranking the 5 Best Songs on ‘Stranger in Town’ by Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band

Anyone thinking that Bob Seger’s emergence into the rock elite in the mid-1970s was a fluke had another thing coming once Stranger in Town arrived. It’s our opinion the 1978 album is his very best when you stack it up against all the others in his catalog.

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The album contains hits aplenty, and even a few unheralded surprises as well. In our opinion, these five songs are the best that Stranger in Town has to offer.

5. “Feel Like a Number”

Seger’s everyman persona sprung, in large part, from his ability to write on themes and topics that touched a nerve with folks from all walks of life. In this case, his lyrics do a great job of evoking that overwhelming feeling of powerlessness that comes with the realization that individualism is hard to pull off in a modern society where everyone is lumped together. The title alone says so much. Instead of making it a kind of protest song, he and the Silver Bullet Band tear through the thing with gusto, delivering some serious catharsis for anyone feeling the same way.

4. “We’ve Got Tonight”

It’s amazing how romantic Seger manages to make this track. When you think about it, you could read the lyrics as if they were the product of some player who knows just what to say to get what he wants from the girl. But when you listen to the song, it just doesn’t play like that. Maybe it’s the earnestness of the music. Or maybe it’s Seger’s delivery of his urgent message that there’s no better time than the present to stop feeling lonely. The Kenny Rogers/Sheena Easton cover version is fine, but this song makes the most sense as one lone man doing all he can to passionately plead his case.

3. “The Famous Final Scene”

This is the one song on this list that isn’t a staple of classic rock radio, but that’s simply a byproduct of it not being a single. When Seger wanted a more soulful feel, he would utilize the Muscle Shoals rhythm section, and they offer just the right slow-dance vibe to this track. As you might guess from the title, it’s the last song on the record. The narrator is doing his best to console someone he’s about to leave behind, and you get the feeling he’s doing so because he’s feeling the pain he desperately wants her to avoid.

2. “Hollywood Nights”

The album’s opening track takes off in a zoom of guitars and drums, and the frantic pace mirrors how quickly the fortunes of the protagonist change throughout the course of this song. It’s impressive how Seger is able to tell us the whole story in relatively few and succinct lines. (See also No. 1 on this list for another example of that.) We follow the kid’s arc as he enters Hollywood an innocent and ends up stranded there, both heartbroken and jaded. The music seems to wind along those hills right along with him.

1. “Still the Same”

What a great opening to this song to set the tone for its brilliance. You get that incredible hook twice, and them drummer David Teegarden snaps things into gear for the thrust of the main section. The story here is a bit more vague than the one in “Hollywood Nights,” and by having a first-person narrator describing this fascinating character, it somehow raises the stakes. There’s certainly some subtle admiration in play for how well this person has been able to navigate their risks all these years, but also a touch of disgust that they’re still using others to rack up all those wins.

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