Bob Seger struck a chord when he released “Like a Rock” into the world in 1986. Released as the second single off the album of the same name, “Like a Rock” became an American anthem when it was used for more than a decade in Chevrolet truck commercials. It’s now one of his signature tracks and an important part of his illustrious catalog. Below, we look at the story behind “Like a Rock.”
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Meaning Behind the Song
The song holds personal meaning for Seger, who wrote it by himself. It was written at the end of a relationship that lasted more than a decade and had the singer reflecting on the passage of time and fleeting youth. “‘Like a Rock’ was inspired partly by the end of a relationship I had that had lasted for 11 years,” he told the New York Times in an archived 1986 interview. ”You wonder where all that time went. But beyond that, it expresses my feeling that the best years of your life are in your late teens when you have no special commitments and no career. It’s your last blast of fun before heading into the cruel world.”
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In a 2014 interview on CBS Mornings, Seger shared that he was a long-distance runner on the track team in high school that he attributes as the source of his “tenacity” and “discipline.” He captures that spirit through the lyrics told through the eyes of his 18-year-old self who wasn’t easily rattled and stood up for what he believed in. Like a rock / I was strong as I could be / Like a rock, nothin’ ever got to me / Like a rock, I was something to see / Like a rock, he croons in the chorus.
“Maybe during the period when I was 30 to 40, I was getting more mature, writing about older themes,” he reflects in an interview with Creem (quote via Ultimate Classic Rock). “I’m sure ‘Like a Rock’ doesn’t mean much to someone who’s 20, but I gotta write what I know about.”
“Like a Rock” spent two weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and reached No. 12 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100. Its success went beyond the charts, as “Like a Rock” became the theme song for a series of Chevy commercials that aired from 1991 to 2004. Seger recalls to CBS Mornings that Chevy “loved” the song and called to ask him to use it in the commercials, which he resisted at first. But when the song started testing well with audiences and proved to drive up profit for the brand, he gave permission to use the song.
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“For a long time, I turned it down,” Seger says. “In the final analysis, it sold a lot of trucks. So that made [Chevy manufacturer General Motors] very happy and all the workers very happy.”
“Like a Rock” was also featured in the Nicolas Cage-fronted film, The Weather Man, and was even parodied in an episode of The Simpsons.
Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns