The Seger File

An unofficial web site about the music of Bob Seger
Last updated June 1998
Edited by Scott Sparling
sparling@segerfile.com


Songwriting

Seger began to write songs at 15.

When he was with the Town Criers, Seger met Doug (Fontaine) Brown, who had sold some songs to Del Shannon and had cut his own record. "I sorta idolized Doug, who was at least five years older than me, and he was the one who made a songwriter out of me and got me believing in myself." Timothy White, November 1977, Crawdaddy. "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Rocker"


Seger in 1978 on events that influenced his writing style: "I stopped playing lead guitar. I just became front singer on the Beautiful Loser album. And it gave me tons of time, not having to buy guitars and amps, keeping them in tune, and so on. It just opened all sorts of different worlds. I began to write on piano a lot more and to write on acoustic guitar. When I was playing lead guitar, I tended to write everything around riffs and I was limited as to what I wrote. Now I write songs in all different shapes and fashions. " David Standish, September 1978, Playboy

"Writing rock is too limiting. I have ten times as much freedom writing ballads." Jay Cocks, June 12, 1978, Time. "Hang Left Out of Nutbush"


"I write most of my song titles first, then back up and figure out how to get there." Timothy White, April 1983, Musician. "The Roads Not Taken."

"I write more for stage than I do for radio...I write for performance more than anything else.Timothy White, April 1983, Musician. "The Roads Not Taken."

Seger wrote "Night Moves" to be a single. "I don't know if I'll ever write one as good as that again." Timothy White, April 1983, Musician. "The Roads Not Taken."

"I generally feel that three album tracks are for radio and the rest are for me. But everybody thinks I did all those ballads on Against the Wind for radio. They were just the best of what I had ready at that point." Timothy White, April 1983, Musician. "The Roads Not Taken."

Seger on the mid-tempo songs known as 'Bob Seger mediums': "At one point it was a challenge to write them; then it became formulaic." Timothy White, April 1983, Musician. "The Roads Not Taken."


"When I first got into this business my whole point was...initially I just went out and tried to write singles, tried to write two and half minute, three minute songs..." Late 1981 radio interview.

"I've been writing for 18 years, and I've got every tape I ever wrote on, and every notebook. I've always worked on the premise that the ones you continually remember are apt to be the best ones." Timothy White, April 1983, Musician. "The Roads Not Taken."

"I'm not going to write anymore nostalgia songs. It's just a real easy thing to do. I don't know why. I'm not that old. I tend to look back on high school years as fun years, before all this, before a 22-year career." Richard Harrington, August 17, 1986, Washington Post. Bob Seger: "Rocking On, With the Voice of Experience."


A review fragment: "Bob Seger is rapidly turning into one of the best rock songwriters ever...Seger is 32 years old and has been on the road half his life..and is just hitting his stride, a true-long distance runner." 1980s Playboy article.


"A lot of times I try to write about small, human emotions between two people, and I think that's just as relevant in California and New York as it is in the Midwest. But I say it with a flat Midwestern accent. I didn't realize it until the last few years. It was Randy Newman who told me I wrote in sort of Midwestern language. My accent is Midwest, words like gonna, gotta...I write the way I talk." Richard Harrington, August 17, 1986, Washington Post. "Bob Seger: Rocking On, With the Voice of Experience."

"For maybe 75 percent of the people who buy the records, it doesn't matter if you've got a well-turned phrase in your verse." Richard Harrington, August 17, 1986, Washington Post. "Bob Seger: Rocking On, With the Voice of Experience."


"I do represent a certain morality, there is that to my music: 'This is what happens when you do it wrong and when you do it right.'" Richard Harrington, August 17, 1986, Washington Post. "Bob Seger: Rocking On, With the Voice of Experience."

"There's definitely a dark tension, I think, behind a lot of my stuff. There was a definite hopelessness of abject poverty that has always crept into everything I've ever done. There's a little bit of desperation -- just a little bit. Because I've been there. I've been broke. I used to think -- it's funny -- but I used to think that the most frightening thing was to ever blow it and have to go back to it. But now I'm pretty well set for life. I'm not so frightened anymore." Dave Marsh, June 15, 1978, Rolling Stone. "Bob Seger: Not A Stranger Anymore."

"When I write songs, I try to say something that is true, whatever the subject is. And that emotion is what is true, if only for the moment...Writing is my favorite time." Robert Hillburn, April 13, 1986, LA Times. "Bob Seger Returns in the Eye of the Storm"


"I don't need a lot of people to bounce off of. Not any more. I've been doing this so long. When I'm in California, I get community. It's nice to be able to sit down with someone like Don Henley, because it's very seldom he likes anything so, if he likes something I've done, it makes me feel really good." Roy Trakin, Creem, 1987?


Don Was: Seger's friendship with Frey and Henley "has made him try to write deeper songs. When he can do that and still belt out a rock and roll song -- it's incredible." Susan Whitall, August 24, 1991, The Detroit News. "Long Way Home"


"It helps to be inspired, but 80 percent of the time I would say I'm not." Late 1981 radio interview.

"If I don't feel like I'm making any progress, I'll just sing into a tape recorder for hours. I've got this really cool set-up where I can go for 40 minutes straight. And I will sing for 40 minutes straight, change the tape, sing for another 40 minutes, then I'll go back to the first tape and listen to it. In that 40 minuets, I'll just be winging it, you know, things off the top of my head. And I might find a little thing here or a little thing there. Sometimes I'll find whole songs in those things." Susan Whitall, August 24, 1991, The Detroit News. "Long Way Home"

"My final step might be to kick back, even from the albums, and just become a songwriter and write for other people. I can still do that and still be at home and be a family man ... and still get some satisfaction...

"But I think I'll always write songs. I like doing it, and I think I'm pretty good at it. You get a little bit better each time, if you stay at it, so why ever stop?" Gary Graff, October 1994, Detroit Free Press. "His New Wife And Child Have Become Rocker Bob Seger's Focus"


Seger sometimes writes on a 1962 grand piano, a Bosendorfer, which he bought from a bankrupt Detroit studio for $8,000 in 1970; was worth $40,000 at the time. Seger considers it priceless. He wrote "Like A Rock" and "Somewhere Tonight" on it, among other songs.

He also keeps a house in nearby Birmingham on about 25 acres where he works."It's like going to the office. There's nobody around, and lots of times I'll focus on the music there and the lyrics will come somewhere else." Fred Shuster, February 2, 1996, Los Angeles Daily News, "Still the same enduring rocker Bob Seger finds a niche in the '90s"

"I do it about 4 to 6 hours or until I feel like I'm hitting a wall. Then I go home and deal with the family and the kids and usually the next day I come back, the wall is gone." Kira L. Billik (AP), January 1996, Traverse City Record-Eagle. "He's older now but he's still running against the wind."


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