Bob Seger – Night Moves

I always liked this song by Seger. This song is a staple on classic radio and I still listen to it when it comes on. Seger has great imagery in this song.

It took Seger around six months to write this song. Along with “Turn The Page,” this was one of just two songs Seger ever wrote on the road.

Night Moves was a breakthrough hit for Seger, introducing the heartland rocker to a much wider audience. He had been very popular in Michigan ever since his first album in 1969… which had the hit Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man. That song went to #17 on the Hot 100, but over the next few years, he struggled to make a national impact.

A big break came in April 1976 when his label, Capitol, seeing the success of Peter Frampton’s Frampton Comes Alive, issued a Seger live album, Live Bullet, recorded at two of his Detroit concerts in 1975. It quickly found a following and outsold every other Seger album.

Bob was born in Detroit. His father was a bandleader and musician who worked in an auto plant to support his wife and two children. He was the younger of two sons and got less attention from his father.

Bob Seger was inspired by the movie American Graffiti, which was released in 1973 but set in 1962. He said, “I came out of the theater thinking, Hey, I have a story to tell too. Nobody has ever told about how it was to grow up in my neck of the woods.” 

Night Moves peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #5 in Canada, and #39 in New Zealand.

 

From Songfacts

This song is about a young couple losing their virginity in the back seat of a Chevy. Seger says the song is autobiographical, but he took some liberties, as their tryst was after high school. The girl he was with had a boyfriend away in the military, and when he came back, she married him, breaking Seger’s heart. Seger says the song represents the freedom and possibility of the high school years.

The phrase “night moves” has a number of meanings, which made it an intriguing song title. It could mean “putting the moves on” a girl in the back seat of a car, but Seger says it also relates to the impromptu parties he and has buddies threw in the fields of Ann Arbor, Michigan, where they would turn on the headlights and dance their “night moves.” They called these gatherings “grassers.”

Four songs on the Night Moves album were recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, and another four at Pampa Studios in Detroit with Seger’s Silver Bullet Band. They needed one more for the album, so Seger’s manager booked three days at Nimbus Nine Studios in Toronto with producer Jack Richardson. They quickly recorded three songs that weren’t that memorable. Seger’s guitarist and sax player returned to Detroit, but the rest of the crew kept working on a very stubborn song Seger had been toiling over: “Night Moves.” When it started to come together, Richardson brought in the local guitarist Joe Miquelon and organist Doug Riley to play on the track along with Seger and two members of his band: bass player Chris Campbell and drummer Charlie Allen Martin.

It’s also the only track on Night Moves with female backing vocals, which were provided by Laurel Ward, Rhonda Silver and Sharon Dee Williams, a trio from Montreal that happened to be in town.

The famous bridge in this song, where Seger strips it down and sings “I woke last night to the sound of thunder,” is something he and producer Jack Richardson came up with on the fly in the studio.

Night Moves was released in October 1976, with the title track issued as the lead single. When the Night Moves album entered the chart at #84 on November 13, Live Bullet was hanging around at #159. For the rest of the year and most of 1977, both albums were on the chart. Each ended up selling 5 million copies.

As for the “Night Moves” single, it rose to #4 in March 1977, making the heartland rocker a national name.

On the album, this runs 5:25. The single version was cut down to 3:23, taking out the bridge section where Seger wonders about the thunder and hums a song from 1962.

This reflective track was a change of pace for Seger, whose songs tended to be rockers with lot of live energy. It wasn’t his first slower song though: “Turn The Page” was released in 1972 but got little attention. After “Night Moves” and the next single, “Mainstreet,” took off, many radio stations added “Turn The Page” to their playlists.

According to Seger, he knew he had a hit after he recorded the song. Folks at his record company were also sure of it; Seger recalls the esteemed promotions man at Capitol, Bruce Wendell, telling him, “You’re going to be singing this song for your entire career.”

Like many of Seger’s songs, there is a touch of nostalgia in the lyrics. When he sings, “And it was summertime, sweet summertime, summertime,” he’s not only referring to the time of the year, but to that season of his life as well. In the last verse of the song, when he is reminiscing, he says, “With autumn closing in” and is referring to the autumn of his life, getting older. >>

Rolling Stone magazine named this Single of the Year for 1977.

The tempo changes were inspired by Bruce Springsteen’s “Jungleland.” Seger wrote the song in pieces; he had the first two verses written but was having trouble finishing the song. After hearing “Jungleland,” he realized he could connect the song with two distinct bridges.

When Seger sings the line about how he dressed in high school, “Tight pants, points, hardly renowned,” “Points” refers to small metal objects some teenagers wore on their shoes in the ’60s.

“Night Moves” didn’t get a video when it was first released (it was five years before MTV), but when Seger’s Greatest Hits album was released in 1994, a video was made to promote it. The video borrows heavily from American Graffiti, showing young people at a ’60s drive-in, intercut with shots of Seger singing the song in the projection room. It was directed by Wayne Isham and stared some soon-to-be famous actors, notably Matt LeBlanc, who would later appear on the TV series Friends. His love interest is played by Daphne Zuniga, who was already starring in Melrose Place. Johnny Galecki, who later found fame on Roseanne and The Big Bang Theory, also appears. The video version of the song runs 4:30, splitting the difference between the album version and the single edit.

In the UK, the song charted for the first time (at #45) when it was released as a single along with Seger’s Greatest Hits package.

According to Seger, he and the girl really made it in the backseat of a ’62 Chevy, but it didn’t fit lyrically, so he changed the line to “my ’60 Chevy.” >>

“Night Moves” is also the name of a 1975 movie starring Gene Hackman that is unrelated to the song. Another movie called Night Moves, this one starring Jesse Eisenberg and also unrelated to the song, hit theaters in 2013.

Since this is such a personal song, it has garnered few covers, although Garth Brooks and The Killers have performed it live.

Seger revealed in a radio interview that in the line, “Started humming a song from 1962,” the song he had in mind was “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes (which was actually released in 1963).

Seger credits the Kris Kristofferson-written song “Me And Bobby McGee” for inspiring the narrative songwriting style he employed on this track.

Night Moves

I was a little too tall, could’ve used a few pounds
Tight pants points hardly renown
She was a black-haired beauty with big dark eyes
And points all her own sitting way up high
Way up firm and high

Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy
Out in the back seat of my sixty Chevy
Workin’ on mysteries without any clues
Workin’ on our night moves
Trying’ to make some front page drive-in news
Workin’ on our night moves
In the summertime
In the sweet summertime

We weren’t in love, oh no, far from it
We weren’t searching for some pie in the sky summit
We were just young and restless and bored
Living by the sword
And we’d steal away every chance we could
To the backroom, the alley, the trusty woods
I used her she used me, but neither one cared
We were getting our share

Workin’ on our night moves
Trying to lose the awkward teenage blues
Workin’ on out night moves
And it was summertime
Sweet summertime, summertime

And oh, the wonder
Felt the lightning
Yeah, and we waited on the thunder
Waited on the thunder

I woke last night to the sound of thunder
How far-off, I sat and wondered
Started humming a song from nineteen-sixty-two
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

Hmm, night moves
(Night moves) night moves
(Night moves) yeah
(Night moves) night moves
(Night moves) I remember the night moves
(Night moves) ain’t it funny how you remember?
(Night moves) funny how you remember
(Night moves) I remember, I remember, I remember, I remember
(Night moves) oh
(Night moves) move away
(Night moves) we’re gonna practice, love
(Night moves) night moves
(Night moves) oh, I remember
(Night moves) yeah, yeah, yeah, I remember
(Night moves) oh, I remember
(Night moves) god, I remember
(Night moves) lord, I remember

Oh, woman, oh, yeah, yeah, uh-huh, I remember, I remember

 

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

17 thoughts on “Bob Seger – Night Moves”

  1. A song that still holds up pretty well all these years, and all those FM spins, later. One of his best. I remember growing up, seemed like Toronto was proud of the song because of the connection the city had to him recording there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I always think of this song like I do of Boys Are Back In Town…an epic kind of song. Jeremy mentioned Van Morrison and I agree…it has that feel.

      Like

  2. I loved listening to a lot of Seger in my 20’s especially on road trips. ‘Against the Wind’ was my favourite from him. This greatest hits album in particular which I had the cassette of got some going over! Good of you to bring him up with the great song ‘Night moves’.

    Like

  3. Bob Seger is one of the great “American rockers,” and I probably made a mistake not to catch him during his farewell tour.

    “Live Bullet” is one of my favorite Seger albums. “Turn the Page” is just a classic! I also dig this tune.

    Seger definitely had an ear for catchy rock songs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Funny about Seger. He is from Detroit but the south pretty much adopted him as a southerner…him and the Eagles. Them two are played a bunch down here along with Southern rock.

      Live Bullet is awesome. He really deserved his success…he worked hard for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh how I love this song. I’ve got it on MiniDisc (don’t laugh!) that I recorded from cassette, that came from an album… so by now the quality is completely crap and I need to replace it.

    The timing on this, is great. It’s one of the things that draws me to particular songs, the timing. Oh and – going off at a slight tangent, as it doesn’t apply to this one – you know some earlier songs, that had a false ending that then started off again? I love those. I know some people loathe them, I’ve never understood why.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember hearing about those but never had one!
      I like false endings…Helter Skelter and Strawberry Fields Forever…It adds to the song to me anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

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