This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #149: Old TIme Rock n’ Roll by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band.
Much of my musical education/awakening came during my twenties. At that time, I was living in London, Ontario and, because of the unique geography at play there, I was able to listen to radio from Detroit, Michigan, just as easily as I did from Toronto. The people I was hanging out with at the time tended to lean toward The Motor City so, as a result, I became quite comfortable listening to radio stations such as WRIF: “The Home of Rock n’ Roll”. *(You need to re-read their slogan but do so in a deep, James Earl Jones voice plus, with an echo effect). Anyway, WRIF played a steady diet of “Classic rock” so I got to hear quite a bit of The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, The Cars, The J. Geils Band, John Cougar Mellencamp, The Boss, along with a husky-voiced man who was a proud native son to those who lived in Detroit….his name was Bob Seger.
Bob Seger scuffled around a bit through the early stages of his career; releasing albums that were hits locally but duds, nationally. He played in many bands, as a session player, as well as, the front man with assorted backing bands. It wasn’t until the mid-1970s, that he finally hit his stride on the national stage with an album called, “Night Moves”. Throughout his career, Bob Seger has had many hits which have gone on to become staples of the classic rock radio format such as “Katmandu”, “Night Moves”, “Mainstreet” *(which is my favourite song of his), “Rock n’ Roll Never Forgets”, “Still the Same”, “We’ve Got Tonite”, “Hollywood Nights”, “Against the Wind”, “Like a Rock” and, the subject of today’s post, “Old Time Rock n’ Roll”. Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band have sold over 75 million albums worldwide. Bob Seger was elected to The Rock n’ Roll hall of Fame in 2004.
The song, “Old Time Rock n’ Roll” was from an album called, “Stranger in Town” and was released in 1979. At the time, it charted well but, as most of you know, what really took this song into the stratosphere of fame was its’ inclusion in the movie, “Risky Business” and, in particular, its use in a scene where Tom Cruise’s character lip syncs to it while dancing in his underwear. That scene has gone on to become one of the most iconic movie scenes of all-time. When Bob Seger recorded “Old Time Rock n’ Roll”, he had no idea it would go on to used as it was which was partly because he does not have a wriiting credit for the song. Seger recorded the song after it had been written by two musicians he knew. Seger felt the song was an accurate representation of how many people felt about music around Detroit. If you recall, the very late 1970s and early 1980s, saw the explosion in popularity of synthesizer-driven bands such as Depeche Mode, The Cure, etc., as well as, many Disco-era singers and bands, too. There was always a backlash against those type of bands by fans of bands who were guitar-driven. So, “Old Time Rock n’ Roll” is a tip of the hat to those fans who weren’t into Disco or Synth-Pop and were, instead, into straight-ahead, guitar-driven arena rock. But, because Seger only recorded it but didn’t actually write the song, he had no control over what commercial uses it would end up being used for. Thus, he had no say in the song’s inclusion in the movie, “Risky Business” but, as sometimes happens in life, Seger lucked out and ended up having the biggest hit of his career soundtrack one of Hollywood’s most iconic movie moments. As the old saying goes, “Sometimes is is better to be lucky than to be good”.
“Old Time Rock n’ Roll” has been selected by The Library of Congress as having “cultural significance”. It is, also, one of the most popular songs on radio stations with the classic rock formats, along with being a favourite in bars, at wedding receptions and backyard bbqs and so on. Bob Seger came from a working class background and used that knowledge to write some of the best songs that explored that lifestyle. It is no wonder that his music resonates, as it does, with “ordinary people”.
So, without further delay, here is a man with a voice like no other….Mr. Bob Seger, singing his greatest hit, “Old TIme Rock n’ Roll”. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Old Time Rock n’ Roll” by Bob sever and the Silver Billet band, can be found here.
The link to the video from the movie, “Risky Business” that features the song, “Old Time Rock n’ Roll”, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Rolling Stone Magazine, can be found here.