Anti-Karaoke University: Bob Seger

Welcome to the first installment of Anti-Karaoke University, where curious aficionados can learn about some of the more obscure offerings in the A.K. repertoire!

Today’s featured artist is Bob Seger, a huge classic rock star in the U.S. in the 1970’s and early ’80s. A great singer-songwriter as well as pianist and guitarist, Bob Seger is from the American midwest: Michigan, to be exact. His heavily blues-influenced music is categorized as blues-rock, roots-rock, or heartland rock. It has a dirty, barroom feel that brings out both sentiment and lust, which I feel is one of the key factors to its greatness. When you hear a Bob Seger song, you get the complete classic rock experience — from his gravelly bluesman’s voice, to the thoughtful, sometimes sentimental lyrics, to the bluesy, perfectly “American” sound of the hard-driving, piano-rock instrumentation. Bob Seger songs are unmistakeable.

Unfortunately, like many of the greats, Seger’s fame appears to never reached Spain; hence few people here know of his songs other than “Old Time Rock and Roll”, which became a mega-hit when it appeared in a key scene in the movie “Risky Business”.

But Seger has penned many other songs far greater than “Old Time Rock and Roll”, in my humble opinion. “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” is probably my all-time favorite Seger song, with a primitive, driving drum beat, bluesy vocals, and a joyous, singing gospel organ. “Hollywood Nights” is another driving rock classic. The ode to strippers, “Her Strut”, is pure sleazy pleasure both musically and lyrically, while the highly catchy “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” and “Hollywood Nights” were mega rock radio hits back in the day.

But Seger excelled even more at ballads. A generous sampling of my favorites: “Night Moves”, “Still the Same”, “We’ve Got Tonight”, “Main Street”, “Roll Me Away”, “Against the Wind”, and “Like a Rock” (ruined for many Americans by its use in a Chevy commercial). Another great ballad is “Turn the Page”. Metallica made this song known to younger generations with their version, but it was written and originally recorded by Seger.

Musically and lyrics-wise, Bob Seger songs tend to be nostalgic, poetic, even sentimental.”Fire Lake” is a wrenched, foreboding tale. “Night Moves” deals with memories of a first sexual experience. “We’ve Got Tonight” is a man’s efforts to make the perfect moment with his lover last, while “Against the Wind” and “Still the Same” both look back on doomed relationships.

Seger’s is a historic career, spanning from the 1960’s through today. His fame was at its peak in the ’70s and early ’80s, when he collaborated with the Silver Bullet Band — a band he put together himself out of local Detroit musicians. In 2004, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame finally inducted Bob Seger into its ranks — a well-overdue honor.

By then, it seemed that Seger had retired for good. However, in the fall of 2014, after recording his first album in eight years, he went on a much-welcomed U.S. tour. Watching the videos of his recent concerts, it’s hard not to be infected by his obvious joy at being back onstage, rocking hard, and making his millions of fans happy.

Bob Seger songs in the Anti-Karaoke repertoire:

1. “Old Time Rock and Roll” (but of course)

2. “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”

3. “Night Moves”

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