Motor City’s Bob Seger is being inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame this June. I can’t think of a more deserving artist for such a distinction. This enduring singer-songwriter has created a lifetime of memorably haunting and evocative – and uniquely American – tunes. His body of work contains dozens of songs in duets, ballads and guitar licks that burst with energy, melody and rhythm and move the listener to pause, think and reflect and, sometimes, just let loose. Bob Seger is a master storyteller in song.
For going on 40 years, Seger’s music has yielded some of rock’s biggest hits, including “Night Moves,” “Against the Wind” and “We’ve Got Tonight,” a song about loneliness which he wrote after seeing Robert Redford‘s con man pick up a coffee shop waitress in The Sting (1973). Other hits are “Hollywood Nights”, “Turn the Page,” “Still the Same,” “Like a Rock,” “Fire Lake,” and “Old Time Rock and Roll.” He scored with “Tryin’ to Live My Life Without You,” “You’ll Accomp’ny Me,” and “Shame on the Moon.” But he also wrote lesser-known classics that project an American sense of life, including the soulful, romantic “20 Years From Now” (Seven, 1974), piano-guitar-flute varietal “Sunburst” (Night Moves, 1976), and the easygoing “Till it Shines,” cathartic “Feel Like a Number” and melodramatic “Brave Strangers” (Stranger in Town, 1978). “Shinin’ Brightly,” “No Man’s Land” and “Good for Me” are among his best songs (Against the Wind, 1980). On “Little Victories” from The Distance (1982), an underrated album, Bob Seger sings as a survivor of a woman who left him. On song after song, he puts a man’s feelings out there in his raspy voice and expresses himself in clear and moving lyrics and melodies.
No one rocks in concert like Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band, who have sold more than 50 million records worldwide and still tour. The Grammy winner (1981 for Against the Wind) was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004 but the songwriting induction may have special meaning for a writer who rarely gets the credit he deserves. Bob Seger unspools a story, holds on through the end and puts it to straightforward musical arrangements, as he did with his synthesizer single “Shakedown” and what I consider the third in a sentimental trilogy about life, “The Fire Inside,” a blistering, piano-driven song about the unconquerable human spirit from his 1991 album of the same name. So, here’s to Bob Seger, who sang about autumn closing in, being young and strong and runnin’ against the wind and always while refueling the fire inside. He has earned my gratitude for being an excellent songwriter and storyteller for our lives and times.