Bob Seger – Mainstreet

Pop’s Pool Hall…did every small town have one? I was there in a small town in Tennessee as a 12-year-old when I first heard this song in that pool hall. The song had been out for a few years but this is when I really paid attention to it. It made me feel like I was looking back on my town at 12 years old. The guitar (Pete Carr) stands out in this song and any song that can make a 12-year-old look back works rather well.

What surprised me about this one is the Canadian love for this Seger song. Personally, I thought it did better in America than it did…but Canada really loved it. This song peaked at #1 in Canada and #24 in the Billboard 100 in 1977. The song was on his Night Moves album released in 1976. This was his breakthrough album and it peaked at #8 in the Billboard Album Charts and #12 in Canada. 

The actual street Seger sings about in this song is Ann Street, which was off of Main Street in Ann Arbor. Seger has said he wrote this song about his high school years in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The song explores the promise of youth, and what Seger calls his “awakening” after being a quiet, awkward kid for most of his youth.

This is another song that Seger recorded at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama. While most of Seger’s work was done with his Silver Bullet Band, he did make a few trips to Alabama to record at Muscle Shoals, taking advantage of the talented musicians and lack of distractions.

Bob Seger: “It was a club. I can’t remember the name of the club, but the band that played there all the time was called Washboard Willie. They were a Delta and Chicago blues band. Girls would dance in the window. They were a black band, and they were very good. That’s where I would go but I was too young to get in. It wasn’t in a great part of town but college students loved to go there.”

From Songfacts

The nostalgic tone of this song led many critics to compare Seger to Bruce Spingsteen, sometimes unfavorably. The NME wrote, “Leaning heavily on anyone so personally stylized as Springsteen has got to qualify as an error of judgment.”

Seger acknowledges Springsteen as an influence at that time, but insists he wasn’t going after Bruce’s sound or image. There weren’t many rock musicians writing introspective hit songs about life in working-class America at the time, and with Springsteen in a legal dispute with his manager that kept him from recording, Seger had 1977 to himself.

The studio was owned by four of the guys who played on the track: David Hood (bass), Jimmy Johnson (rhythm guitar), Roger Hawkins (drums) and Barry Beckett (keyboards). The lead guitarist on the session was Pete Carr.

This was the second single from the Night Moves album, following the title track. Both songs are very nostalgic and a departure from high-energy rockers that dominate his album Live Bullet, which was released in 1976 six months before Night Moves. By this time, Seger had been at it in earnest for over a decade and was just starting to break through to a national audience. Live Bullet was his first album to find a broad audience; many who bought it snatched up Night Moves when it came out, and weren’t disappointed. Both albums ended up selling over 5 million copies, making Seger a star.

Mainstreet

I remember standing on the corner at midnight
Trying to get my courage up
There was this long, lovely dancer in a little club downtown
Loved to watch her do her stuff
Through the long, lonely nights she filled my sleep
Her body softly swaying to that smoky beat
Down on Main Street
Down on Main Street

In the pool halls, the hustlers and the losers
Used to watch ’em through the glass
Well I’d stand outside at closing time
Just to watch her walk on past
Unlike all the other ladies, she looked so young and sweet
As she made her way alone down that empty street
Down on Main Street
Down on Main Street

Sometimes even now, when I’m feeling lonely and beat
I drift back in time and I find my feet
Down on Main Street
Down on Main Street
Down on Main Street
Down on Main Street
Down on Main Street
Down on Main Street

Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

32 thoughts on “Bob Seger – Mainstreet”

  1. This song is immediately recognizable after the first few notes. This song is so relatable, because a young man, I had the same frustrations for girls that I liked, when I saw them dancing in clubs, and I didn’t figure out how to approach them.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s a good one… it does surprise me too that it was #1 in Canada, I’ve noticed that before,… it was popular but seemed like not nearly so much as “Night Moves”, but be it a fluke or whatever, it was his only #1 there for years. It would be in the upper levels of my personal Seger favorites.
    My hometown growing up had a Shorty’s pool hall (he also had a magazine rack type store). Which wouldn’t fly in this day and age because Shorty was – like Peter dinklage, whatever the appropriate term is these days (dwarf comes to mind but I think that has fallen out of favor) … he was well-liked but everyone just knew him as “Shorty”!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pop’s was an older guy we would all call Pops lol. Kids could go in there obviously…it was a cool place to hang out.
      No that wouldn’t fly today. There was a deaf guy that played checkers in the courthouse lawn everyday…people called him “dummy” Biggs… I remember him and my dad told me…he is NO dummy at all…but that is what was used at the time. He was well liked by everyone and he was smart as hell. That WOULD not fly today.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow….I’m glad to see him out touring again. Bob Dylan is also coming to Nashville next month. I’ve thought about that one…that would be the 9th time lol.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow, you’ve seen him eight times? I didn’t realize that. Well, it would be my third time.

        I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here, Macca is turning 80 this year and, let’s be honest, his age is starting to show. In fact, his gig in New Jesery is June 16, just two days prior to his big birthday.

        I hate to say this. This may be one of the last opportunities to see him. I really would love to go.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yes I’ve seen Bob in every decade since the 80s!

        His voice was great in 2010…but when I saw Paul in 2013 or 14 ….some songs his voice was weaker…but hey….he still does great.

        I would like to see him again…I hope he adds Nashville…Knoxville is around 3 hours away.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m not sure my previous comment posted – my apologies in case it it.

        I’m in and very excited – MetLife Stadium it is, scheduled for June 16!😀

        That being said, I realize there’s a risk of disappointment. Macca’s voice definitely is showing wear and tear.

        To the extent his set list includes more recent tunes from his last two solo albums, I suspect it won’t be much of an issue. I’m more concerned about older songs, especially Beatles, since I know how great he used to play them.

        I hope he’ll compensate any vocal shortcomings with his great enthusiasm he historically has had when performing live.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. He will probably lean heavy on his musicians…they provide excellent backups.

        The one song I noticed it on last time…was My Love. His voice cracked through that one. Other than that…he did well but that was 8 years ago.

        I think he will be really good….he enjoys it so much.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. And, frankly, even if there will be moments when you recognize he may be struggling a bit, the man’s one of my absolute music heroes, as you know. Just seeing him, even though he’ll be tiny (but they have mega monitors in that stadium!), will be a thrill.

        And, yes, Macca will have a great backing band – I assume it will still include guitarists/vocalists Rusty Anderson, Brian Ray and drummer Abe Laboriel Jr. These guys are excellent!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy to see you feature a Michigan native! I think it is a shame that Seger tends to be recognized primarily for Turn the Page and Old Time Rock and Roll. This song is just SO good. As someone already mentioned, the song is recognized by the opening notes. It is one of those songs that reminds me of hometown radio stations growing up. I can remember being a kid in the back seat driving with the windows down in the summer time when a convertible pulled up next to us with this song blaring out of the radio. I only remember it because we had the same station playing in our car! Great song by a great singer.

    I saw him live a few years back and he sounded amazing.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. He has been adopted by the south…he is regarded like Lynyrd Skynyrd by people here….

      He does have some great songs and yea he should be remembered by more than those songs…he has so many.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Turn the Page is almost as wore out as Stairway To Heaven over here. I’ve never liked Old Time Rock and Roll. Beautiful Loser and his older ones are the ones I like. He does have a fantastic voice.

        Like

  4. That’s interesting he was talking about Main Street in Ann Arbor. Maybe it was more hicksville back at the time he wrote it, but nowadays Ann Arbor is an upper crust college town, the location of probably the best public U in the State (and maybe beyond?) It’s funny, I never made a comparison between Bruce and Bob but definite similarities there. I love his music even though I never bought one of his albums. Never saw him in concert but I saw really good Bob Seger cover band in South Haven many moons ago.

    Liked by 1 person

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