Monday, December 19, 2016

Reflections On...Night Moves

My love affair with music began at a very early age---5 years old to be exact. It’s because of both my parents that I love music as much as I do. My father amassed a vinyl record collection of more than 1500 albums. As a teen, I would sit and stare at my father’s collection for hours, wondering how anyone could obtain such an enormous music collection. And I was envious. I wanted to hold a collection like that when I was older. I wanted to have a collection even larger than my Dad’s.

My mother played the radio constantly. She also had her favorite bands and performers that she exposed to me growing up. Paul Revere and the Raiders were Mom’s favorite band, so I learned a lot about 60s pop through her. She also loved Fleetwood Mac and Patsy Cline and through her I grew an appreciation for country music. And then there was one performer in particular that she exposed me to very early on in my life and that was Bob Seger.

When I was 5 years old, my mother started playing her copy of Night Moves on our old 8 track stereo. We would listen to it while she made dinner, or before bed, or whenever we were just sitting around. When I first heard this delicious melodic folk rock, I fell in love. Rock and Roll Never Forgets was an awesome rocker, and as a kid, I could run around “dancing” and being silly to this song and it was enjoyed by everyone. I was the life of the party and getting attention! And what kid doesn’t love getting attention?

I also determined in my youthful mind that there was something about these songs, the band, the singer, and the music. The way everything blended to create a feeling of euphoria was an amazing experience, especially to an impressionable young boy. The hard rock opening of “Rock and Roll Never Forgets.” The slow acoustic intro of “Night Moves.” The bopping folk rock of “Mary Lou.” It was all so fascinating and mesmerizing.

Night Moves became my new addiction. At first, I would ask Mom to play it if we were out in the car, or if we were home in the evening with no one watching television. Then I would ask her to play it in the afternoon before I went to school (PM kindergarten for me). Then I would ask her to play it in the morning when she woke up. Eventually, I would knock on her door and ask her to play it myself. I already knew how to use the 8-track player from watching Mom do it so many times.

When she requested I watch Sesame Street instead, I scoffed at the notion. I wanted to hear some good old rock and roll not a bird and a furry elephant singing kids songs. Bring me the rock! I would persist and my mother would usually lament. There’s something to be said for bothering your parents at 6 in the morning. I would pop Night Moves into the old 8-track stereo and let her rip. It was heavenly.

We would bring Night Moves on road trips with us and listen to it in the car. I just couldn’t get enough of that album. One weekend we took a road trip to my Grandparents house where I was dropped off along with my sister to stay for a couple of days. Somehow, Night Moves got left in the back seat of the car in the hot, hot sun. When I climbed back into the car that Sunday for the ride home I asked to listen to Night Moves once again. I was informed that we couldn’t. The 8-track had warped and we were no longer able to listen to that album. Warped? How did this happen? How could this be allowed? Where was my Night Moves?

That ended 5 year old Ryo Vie’s intense affair with Night Moves. It would only be a matter of time before my new obsession would strike, which ended up being Billy Joel’s The Stranger, but that is a reflection for another day. On that particular Sunday, I was mourning the loss of Night Moves being laid to rest. But like Bob sang, rock and roll never forgets.

As the years rolled by, Bob Seger would fall off my radar for a while as I explored other avenues of music from bubble gum pop to death metal. I tried all types of music across the spectrum and eventually Night Moves crept back into my life. I was a teenager reconnecting with some lost classics while learning classic artists for the first time in my life. Born To Run, Bat Out Of Hell, and Rumors, were being discovered and/or rediscovered and really picked apart.

As a teenager, I spent a lot of time in my room, sitting in the dark, sneaking cigarettes out the window, and listening to music. I would find a particular album and play it over and over again, analyzing the songs, dissecting the lyrics, and looking for deeper meaning in the art as well as my life. I was a dreamer as a teenager, always pondering my plight and wondering where everything was going to lead me. I used music a lot as my guide and my muse.

Night Moves got a lot of play during this teenage journey of discovery. I used Bob Seger’s stories through songs to analyze my life and understand the bigger picture of the world that was out there. Particularly the title song. Seger’s portrayal of himself and his beautiful love to open the song caught my teenage ears in a way that 5 year old me did not understand. Two restless souls just using each other for sexual gratitude and passing the time was something that I related to at 15 years old. I certainly didn’t understand the opposite sex well and I didn’t know how to have a serious relationship, but I could imagine a “Night Moves” scenario. And I was able to meet girls who could imagine the same.

“Sunspot Baby” was another fun song that I enjoyed as a teenager. This was a blues rocking song that I just loved because of the piano riffs and the lyrics. Heartache and love lost while trying to chase down the woman who left you just to figure out why was a captivating story to a teenage boy who had yet to live that sort of thing. And as a bonus, whenever I could listen to this song with my dad, he would crank it to ten and we would rock out together. “Sunspot baby! I’m gonna catch up somtime!”

Deep down that is the biggest reason that Night Moves will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s one of the few albums that I would listen to with both my mother and father and enjoy it with them on a deeper level. With my mother, I just wore out as a kid, and we still joke about the warped 8-track to this day. With my father, we would just rock out to several songs on the album and be amazed at how great the record is. There are very few albums that share a link between me and both of my parents, but Night Moves is one of them.

When I was in my first marriage and going through a tough time deciding on what I wanted to do, I rediscovered Night Moves for the third time. I was in my early 20s by then and the songs on Night Moves presented an even deeper meaning in my life. Like Springsteen’s Born To Run, Night Moves is filled with stories of dreamers longing to get away or reflecting on their past. The protagonists in the songs are asking themselves, “Did I do everything that I could? Was my life better in the past than it is now?” Those reflections and search of self were very relevant to me in my early 20s. I had gotten married way too young and I was at a point in my life where I was wondering constantly if this was all that life had to offer. If it was, I wasn’t too fond of it and I knew that things had to change. I spent many nights listening to Night Moves over and over again, contemplating my life and wondering what had to be done. Night Moves was a comfort because it was my link to the past, my link to both my parents, and my link to understanding and self-discovery at three major points in my life. 

The album was there to bring me joy through the initial phase of my life when I was hearing music for the first time. It was there to bring me comfort as a teenager while I tried to learn my place in the world. And it was there to center me in my 20s as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I would always have Night Moves to fall back on and it was nice to know that the album was never going away.

Regretfully, I’ve never seen Bob Seger in concert. I wish that I had. I can only imagine that he puts on one heck of a show. And any songs played from Night Moves would give me fits of euphoria and glee because that album meant so much to me growing up. I still pull it out every once in a while and play it a couple of times through. And every time I hear the opening notes of “Rock and Roll Never Forgets” a big smile comes across my face. The sweet memories of music from another time in my life. Music that shaped me. Music that changed me. Music that meant the world to me. I’ll never forget either, Mr. Seger. Night Moves will always hold a special place in my heart.

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