Growing up, I listened to 96KIX out of Pittsburgh. It was my music destination. Circa early 80s, the station did a countdown of Pittsburgh’s top 300 songs of all time. I was glued to the radio for days as this gimmick was stretched out for maximum effect. I had a notebook and I meticulously listed each song, rank number, and artist as it worked down to the region’s top tunes. Once it was over, you could order a printed copy of the list by sending 96KIX a self-addressed stamped envelop. You bet I did it! I can still picture myself scouring that list when it came in the mail, and seeing which ones I had missed in my notebook. What sticks out to me today about that list is I remember clearly which artist had the most hits in the top 300. Yes, it was Bob Seger with fifteen tracks. I was thrilled, though I think, if memory serves, his top ranking song hit only #11, narrowly missing the top ten. That disappointed me.
I was a huge fan of Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band. There was tremendous respect for his song-writing prowess and the nostalgic feel of his songs, even though I didn’t know what that was back then. I remember one incident on the school bus. Someone typically had a boombox playing a variety of KISS or ACDC, neither one my favorite. But sometimes we would listen to the radio, and on one occasion, Seger’s “Night Moves” came on. Everyone listened, the song progressed, etc…, until the acoustic guitar faded to silence. One of the leaders on the bus, a senior, yelled to everyone. “Quiet! Listen!” And then the melancholy words spoke back into time, a time that no one on the bus understood, yet we all respected:
“Woke last night to the sound of thunder, how far off I sat and wondered, starting humming a song from 1962, ain’t it funny how the night moves, when you just don’t seem to have as much to lose. Strange how the night moves, with Autumn closing in.”
Then the acoustic guitar started again, and the refrain picked up to a crescendo. It is one of the most beautiful, poignant, and perfect songs ever written. We knew it then, and I certainly know it now, especially with Autumn closing in. It’s hitting close to home, and I’m humming a song from 1976.
There’s a wonderful, poignant truth in Bob Seger’s music. It is full of heart and life and regret and mistakes and living life to the fullest. My favorite modern band is Needtobreathe, and I have noticed that at times I hear Seger in their music, and I love that.
On occasion, I head over to Youtube and remind myself of the tremendous list of songs that he had written. For heart, poignancy, and in-your-face nostalgia, his work stacks up against anyone. One of the greatest. If you haven’t heard any of these ten in a while, treat yourself. And yes, I think all of these were on 96KIX’s top 300:
- Turn the Page
- Old Time Rock’n Roll
- You’ll Accompany Me
- Still the Same
- Fire Lake
- Against the Wind
- Roll Me Away
- Like a Rock
- We’ve Got Tonight