Thursday, June 2, 2011

Bob Seger - "Roll Me Away"

(Not Available on iTunes)

(Debuted May 28, 1983, Peaked #27, 10 Weeks on the Chart)  

Those who read my 1970s music blog have likely read that I wasn't much of a Bob Seger fan while growing up. While adults seemed to love his stuff, I never really understood then what was so great about it. However, once I got older and begin to actually listen to the lyrics in his songs, I began to understand what he was singing about. Since a lot of those songs were about growing older and slowly discovering what it's like to be on the other side of adolescence, I realized that I had very little frame of reference regarding his song when I was a teenager.

That said, I really didn't pay attention to "Roll Me Away" during the era when it was a Top 40 hit. I first heard it a couple of years later as it played in the closing credits of the film Mask. While the imagery in the lyrics about the biker taking whichever road he felt like following matched the motorcycle gang in the film, as well as Rocky Dennis's desire to ride his motorcycle across Europe, the song has other elements that aren't as evident. The freedom of the open road is one thing, then there's the optimism expressed in the final line of the song, "I said next time, we'll get it right." It expresses the idea that things can always get better, regardless of what we do. That's where the maturity pops up in the song.

In his book The Heart of Rock & Soul,  Dave Marsh explains that the end of the song is essentially what happens after the final scene of The Searchers. That's actually a pretty good explanation. It's more than the rolling piano that marks the long stretches of the song that are wordless, or how tightly Seger's band plays. I love this song because of the sentiment behind the words.

Since Seger's material isn't available on either iTunes or Amazon, I've added a link to the Marsh book on Amazon, which can be picked up really cheaply there. It's a good read.


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