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Bob Seger's 'Night Moves:' His Own 'American Graffiti' Moment

Music | November 13, 2017

Bob Seger in London at the start of a British tour with his group, the Silver Bullet Band, 12th October 1977. He is wearing a t-shirt depicting comedian Steve Martin holding his 1977 album 'Let's Get Small'. (Photo Malcolm Clarke/Keystone/Hulton Archive/G

"Night Moves" by Bob Seger is one of the great personal reminiscences in rock music. It tells the story of a young man having his first romantic and sexual experiences with a girl, but it's not at all about true love. A plainspoken account of teenage fumbling, Bob Seger's "Night Moves"  is completely relatable for those who were young in the late '50s and '60s, who were becoming (we are led to believe) more adventurous than their parents had been at their age. It was uncharted territory back then; sex education was rumor and folk wisdom passed around by other young people or older brothers and sisters. But biological urges being what they are, the teens in the song -- and in the country -- somehow figured out what to do.

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 '60 Chevy, in fact.

"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.” 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, and had a one-off hit with "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" in 1968 (with a group called the Bob Seger System), but when "Night Moves" was released he attracted national acclaim. The single went to #4 on the Billboard chart, and the album on which it was included, also titled Night Moves, entered the top ten. "Night Moves" was named Single of the Year in 1977 by Rolling Stone Magazine, and paved the way for hits in subsequent years that included "Still The Same," "Hollywood Nights," "We've Got Tonight," and "Against The Wind."

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.


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

Tags: Bob Seger | Song Meanings, Lyrics, And Facts | The 1970s

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Rebeka Knott


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.