'Stranger in Town'
Title: “Stranger in Town”
Artist: Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
Release date: 1978
Favorite track: “Still the Same”
For fear of pitchforks, I don’t share many of my unpopular opinions about music.
I will share a few of my popular ones.
I really like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Billy Joel and Steve Miller Band — the list goes on. And, I really love Bob Seger (& The Silver Bullet Band).
Honestly, I’m super mad at myself for leaving Seger off my frequently mentioned list of best songwriters of all time. He belongs on that list — maybe at the top.
Potentially unpopular opinion: “Stranger in Town” is my favorite album in Seger’s long career.
I don’t know how else to say this, but I needed this record today.
Sometimes I listen to these albums and I enjoy them, but it’s not an intense or passionate listen. It doesn’t fit my mood.
Today, as I’m writing this, it did. It really did.
Full disclosure: Sometimes when I hear some really good music, I tear up a little. It happened the first time I saw Earth, Wind & Fire live, when I listened to Carly Simon’s album “Boys in the Trees” (my first time listening to a vinyl record) and today.
I often stress the importance of a good track listing. Here it is, folks — a really good track listing.
The fast-paced “Hollywood Nights” is the sound of ambition. While it’s definitely a traditional big city storytelling song, the music is what gives it this edge of anticipation for the rest of the record.
Now, I normally wouldn’t like things to slow things down so much in the second track. I made an exception for “Still the Same.”
I’m so obsessed with this song. “Still the Same” is one of my favorites from the ‘70s. Period.
You always said the cards would never do you wrong
The trick, you said, was never play the game too long
— “Still the Same”
I think what I like so much is it has that matter-of-fact tone that says “It is what it is.” I sometimes feel as if Seger is my personal life coach.
Like many, “Old Time Rock & Roll” was the first and most frequent song of Seger’s I’ve heard. As a teenager, I used to sing it nonstop — really giving it my all during that first verse.
“Just take those old records off the shelf,” I’d yell out from my bedroom. Oh, my poor parents. I was the type of teenager who put on socks, heart-shaped sunglasses and slid down the hallway to greet them.
But, seriously, how fun is that song?
Then, Seger provides words of wisdom and smooths things up again with “Till it Shines.” Swoon. This easily could have been a single, but Seger already had four that made the Billboard Hot 100. Probably wanted to give someone else a chance.
I can hear how Seger and his growling vocals influenced newer artists in the song “Feel Like Number.” I love this particular verse.
Gonna cruise out of this city, head down to the sea
Gonna shout out at the ocean, hey it’s me
— “Feel Like Number”
I’ve mentioned before that I have a “Songs About Being Broke” Spotify playlist. I do, and “Ain’t Got No Money” is going on it.
“We’ve Got Tonight” will get you in the feels. If it doesn’t, I won’t say you’re heartless. But I won’t say you’re not. The song is special.
“Brave Strangers” has a fun rhythm. It’s the longest song, clocking in at more than six minutes.
It’s hard to argue with “The Famous Final Scene” as an album closer. It’s definitely a sad one, but the piano at the end leaves a hint of optimism. Roll credits.
I don’t usually do this, but if you made it this far in my column, thanks for reading. Writing this gave me an excuse to fall back in love with this incredible record.
Seger’s hair is luscious. That’s all.