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Bob Seger – “Night Moves,” A Coming of Age Song

Music | November 13, 2017

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I was a teenager in the 1970’s and will never forget the first time I heard Bob Seger’s song, Night Moves. Like many songs, there was a story that inspired the lyrics to this classic, coming of age song. I always had a “thing” for Bob Seger and made it my business to have all of his albums. I would play them for hours on end on my father’s console stereo. The lyrics to Night Moves tell the story of a young boy becoming a man.  

Seger drew inspiration for the lyrics to Night Moves from the movie, American Graffiti. The movie recounts all-American boys and girls who explored all the possibilities of their new-found freedom and sexuality. After seeing the movie, Seger decided that he would write a song to tell the story about his own experience. He wanted people to know that it was OK to be human and vulnerable. After all, he was an all-American boy who lost his virginity in an all-American car… a Chevy!

Night Moves’ lyrics, are an autobiographical account of Bob Seger’s “first time.” Although some of the details, for example the year (1960) of the car, were altered, it was a true interpretation of his raw emotions at the time. “Sweet summertime,” refers to a season in his life and being a young man. He recounts a “black-haired beauty, with big dark eyes,” being the object of his pleasure. 

Night Moves is a perfect example of this very concept; a young boy’s reminiscences. He sings, “we weren’t in love, oh no, far from it,” and “workin’ on mysteries without any clues.” He didn’t love the girl and she didn’t love him. They were just helping each other work through the awkward teenage years; that in-between time when a person is too old to be a child and too young to be an adult. They mutually used each other to explore and says, “but neither one cared. We were gettin’ our share.” Seger sings about feeling the “lightening” and “waiting on the thunder.” I’m sure it goes without saying what the thunder was.

At the end of the song, Seger sings, “Started humming a song from 1962.” In an interview, he reportedly said that the song he had in mind was, Be My Baby, by the Ronettes, although it wasn’t actually released until 1963. The very last line of the song, “With autumn closin’ in,” refers to the autumn of his life, i.e., passing of time, growing up and aging.   

Night Moves is largely responsible for boosting Bob Seger’s career. He had been popular in his home state of Michigan, but when the song was released he attracted national acclaim. It put him at the top of the Billboard Charts. Night Moves was the title track of Seger’s album, Night Moves. The song was said to have been a key factor in the album selling over 5 million copies worldwide and was named Single of the Year in 1977 by Rolling Stone Magazine.  

Most of Bob Seger’s songs reveal a touch of nostalgia. He draws mainly on personal experiences. While Night Moves, is a very personal song for Seger, it is one plenty of people, men and women alike, can relate to. We all had that first experience we will never forget.

NIGHT MOVES

I was a little too tall
Could've used a few pounds
Tight pants point hardly renowned
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 '60 Chevy
Workin' on mysteries without any clues
Workin' on our night moves
Tryin' 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 searchin' for some pie in the sky summit
We were just young and restless and bored
Livin' by the sword
And we'd steal away every chance we could
To the backroom, to the alley or the trusty woods
I used her, she used me
But neither one cared
We were gettin' our share
Workin' on our night moves
Tryin' to lose the awkward teenage blues
Workin' on our night moves
And it was summertime
Sweet, summertime, summertime
And oh the wonder
Felt the lightning, yeah
And 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 hummin' a song from 1962
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 closin' in

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.