I’m so old — how old are you? — I’m so old I remember when Bob Seger was called the Bob Seger System, and had one song worth listening to: “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man,” which I love for many reasons, but mainly two. Those would be 1) the organ intro; and 2) those crazy lyrics, which seem to sprout entirely from the appealing rhyme of “ramblin'” and “gamblin’.” Let’s see, we’ve got a man born lonely down by the riverside, who learned to spin a fortune wheel and throw dice. He needs to ramble, he needs to gamble, he needs some lovin’. Add that great organ, and what else do you need?
Seger’s subsequent career arc as the poet laureate of blue-collar workers and inspiration for Bob Greene column collection titles didn’t exactly leave me cold, but for every gem (“Come to Papa,” “Roll Me Away,” “Main Street”), there were seemingly a dozen overplayed, overexposed, overeverything classic-rock radio standards that made you wince and change the station. Have you ever been to a wedding where “You’ll Accomp’ny Me” was the bride and groom’s first dance? Come on, you know there have been a few.
Seger’s been gone so long I thought he’d retired, but it turns out, no. Yes, this is Michigan, but when Salon signs on, it’s plain my indifference is not widespread.
Brian Saunders said on November 12, 2003 at 1:13 am
Pete Townsend didn’t get his wish, nor did most of his contempories. They did NOT die before they grew old.
I always thought that “Turn the Page” was a cool song, until Metallica covered it (I actually like some Metallica music [shutter], but I did not like their “update” of the lyrics). I do find it interesting, however, that Bob (and Charlie Daniels), people that wrote songs about the establishment not appreciating hippies, are now the heroes of the establishment.
Nance said on November 12, 2003 at 6:47 am
Yeah, once you’ve been the theme song and slogan for a Chevy truck ad campaign, you’ve pretty much been co-opted. (Although even though Iggy Pop’s “Lust for Life” was a cruise-line ad, he still seems fairly uncorrupted.)
michael golden said on November 12, 2003 at 9:08 am
I never could figure out the appeal of those TV ad cowboy truck songs. Who would buy a truck just because some sissy looking guy in a cowboy hat sings a stupid song about it. I can’t help sitting there and visualizing some ad agency dopes who have never been west of the Hudson trying to dream up tough guy western ads. That “Bad to the bone” line in Ford ads a couple of years ago caused some amusement out here among gays and others because “bad to the bone” was a gay line. Whatever happened to Bob Greene?
Nance said on November 12, 2003 at 9:19 am
What a demographic snapshot! I just went to the iTunes music store in search of the original non-live single of “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” No dice. “Did you mean Bob Siegel?” the search engine asked. Uh, NO.
Bob Siegel: The Jewish singer-songwriter poet-laureate.
Bob Greene wrote a fairly lame-ass column for the NYT after the Cubs lost, but otherwise he’s been out of sight. I’m sure he’s planning something. Time will tell.
deb said on November 12, 2003 at 11:11 am
to get back to your opening line…I’M so old that i remember “tie a yellow ribbon” wasn’t about a soldier coming home, but about a guy getting out of the joint. there was an interview with telma hopkins, late of tony orlando and dawn, in a recent TV guide. the interviewer asked which came first, the song or the yellow ribbons. when telma explained that the song came first — and that the ribbons were for an ex-con — the interviewer’s response was: “shut up!”
excuse me while i down a shot of ensure.
Randy said on November 12, 2003 at 11:32 am
I think “Against the Wind” must, by law, be used in any film where the protagonist is riding a motorcycle and/or musing about his/her fight with the establishment. Really, I think it’s in the books somewhere, but I could be wrong.
alex said on November 12, 2003 at 2:43 pm
“Like a lead balloon” is how GM’s use of pop music oldies goes over with me. Maybe they’re trying to remind people what their products were like in the ’70s, back before styling and quality slipped to an all-time low in the ’80s, forever destroying GM’s good will with of a lot of consumers.
MTV took a fair amount of the fun out of music. When I grew up it held memories of times and places and allowed us our own visual fantasies. Not that Bob Seger boinking in a ’60 Chevy was ever one of mine. But today a song is more likely to conjure the frenetic video footage that it’s marketed with. And cherished oldies are becoming forever burnished with contemporary commercial imagery.
ashley said on November 12, 2003 at 2:45 pm
…and if you haven’t heard “Main Street” in a while, and you want to, just head to your local strip club. I guarantee you won’t have to wait an hour.
Sometimes, they’ll do the “twofer”, and follow it up with “Turn the Page”.
danno said on November 12, 2003 at 3:17 pm
Good for Bob! Not wanting to tour and stay home with the kids. At his age he doesn’t have much time left to do grueling tours, but then again kids are only kids once.
Mindy said on November 12, 2003 at 3:33 pm
“Sunspot Baby” and “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” are the only Bob Seagram songs that I like to hear more than once a year. That’s Bob “Seagram” because he sounds like he throws back a hefty shot of whiskey just before stepping up to the mike. Hurts my throat to listen to him much.
The Chevy truck commercials always remind me of Click and Clack of NPR’s Car Talk. One of them sang “Like a heap” when the ads first aired.
Nance said on November 12, 2003 at 3:53 pm
On the other hand, Alex, car commercials are the new MTV. I’ve heard more interesting new music in Mitsubishi commercials than I ever heard on the radio or other outlets.
Melissa said on November 13, 2003 at 3:24 am
It’s distressing to hear the sounds of my formative years as commercial backgrounds. Even worse is discovering who is the latest to have sold out: recently I heard Asleep At The Wheel doing “Route 66” on an Isuzu commercial. (Brother Ray, say it ain’t so!)
I thought it was perhaps unintentionally funny that a band with such a name was used for flogging automobiles.
ashley said on November 13, 2003 at 10:29 am
I don’t mind bands like “Asleep at the Wheel” finally getting a steady cash flow. What pisses me off is that I now permanently associate Led Zeppelin with those skanky angular new Cadillacs. Bleccchhh.
Last night, I was taken aback when I heard Lene Lovich’s “New Toy” in a Target commercial. Punk lives!