I’ve been thinking about this for a while now, and I’m finally ready. Ready to take a bold stand in shallow waters. Ready to ask for a massive critical upgrade for Bob Seger‘s “Night Moves.” This song — this grossly overplayed FM rock radio staple, this iconic coming-of-age saga, sung by Rock Town Hall’s gravel-throated patron saint of unintentional Rock mediocrity, Bob Seger — people, this song is Great!
I ain’t lying, and I ain’t crazy. The length of my years has taught me to open my eyes and ears to many things I sneered at as an ignorant youngster: funk music, lefty politics, agnosticism, and now this. And why not? Can you find any real, substantive flaw in this song? More to the point: can you name a song that covers the same lyrical ground better?
Let’s pause for a moment and consider just how hard it must be to write a song that involves wheat fields, Chevys, and young love. I point you in the direction of the collected works of John Cougar Mellencamp to see how not to do this. But Seger’s “Night Moves” is different.
There are so many — oh, how do I say it — moments in this song that just don’t sound like utter bullshit, when they otherwise totally should. You’ll find a few in the first half of the song: “we were just young and restless and bored”; “out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy” — Alex Chilton, eat your heart out!
Then, we grow up: “I woke last night to the sound of thunder. How far off, I sat and wondered.” Ow! Seeg, you got me again! This is followed by one of those minor miracles in performance that turn into private “wait for it” moments — the way dude sings the next line: “starting hummin’ a song from nineteen sixty two…” when the song comes full circle, eventually blossoming into one of Rock’s great everymanworkingbloke outchoruses — “workin’ and practicin’.”. Just workin’ and practicin’. Isn’t that all we ever do?
Come on, people — we make a lot of good-natured fun of Bob Seger ’round these parts. Can I at least get an “amen” on the Greatness of his “Night Moves”?