My first musical memory dates back to this man singing Old Time Rock and Roll when I was 5 years old. I always remember my mother playing her albums very loud at our first house on Lookout Ave in Hackensack, NJ. This consisted of A LOT of Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Jackson Browne, The Allman Brothers, and Bob Seger.
I would always pretend I was playing along and my mom would get a kick out of me air-guitaring around the living room in my knee-high tube socks and velcro sneakers. The more she laughed, the more I would get into it.
Sometime in 1984, we were lucky enough to borrow my Aunt’s huge Panasonic video camera. My mom put on Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger and I started to perform. Starting with air-guitar, then quickly working my way to the air-sax solo, I was owning it! My mom still plays the tape for me every few years to remind me how and when it all started.
So my connection with the man runs deep and I owe my interest in rock music to this dude. But now, my new band Joe Wilson and The Loose Ends are taking it to a new level of appreciation.
The first cover song that we learned was not a Springsteen tune (though we’re named after one of his songs…) but the Seger epic-bar-band-tune Rock and Roll Never Forgets. This song is built to be played in small bars around the country. It hits like a freight train and doesn’t stop until the last chord of the song rings out. I absolutely LOVE playing this song live. The reaction from the crowd is always a good one and I can feel the band fall in to place by the verse, just rocking the hell out of it.
Like most Springsteen tunes, this one speaks to me on a personal level. The line:
“So now sweet sixteens turned thirty-one
You get to feelin’ weary when the work days done
Well all you got to do is get up and into your kicks
If you’re in a fix
Come back baby
Rock and roll never forgets
Just rocks me to my core. I started playing in bands when I was 15, and since I just turned 30 in November… This is the story of my life. I remember being 15 and just beginning to learn how to play guitar and having these romantic ideas of what it would be like to play in a band. Fast forward 15 years, and here I am, with the same kind of dreams, only now they’re bigger. For most of my life, I’ve always turned to music to get me through the hard times. That’s exactly what Bob is saying in this tune. No matter what gets you down, you can always turn to music to feel young and forget your worries.
Whenever we play this song (usually at the end of our set), I’m hoping it’s hitting home with someone in the crowd as well. That they’re experiencing the same thing, at the same time, and we’re sharing this together. An idea they can take home with them, though, since they’re at the show in the first place, they probably already understand the true healing power of music.