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Old Time Rock & Roll (1978) - Bob Seeger - All about the song

"It was the stupidest thing I've ever done... I was terrified..."

The story of Bob Seeger's legendary hit "Old Time Rock & Roll"!

"Old Time Rock & Roll" is Bob Seeger's famous hit for his album Stranger in Town (1978). As a single the song was released in 1979: "Old Time Rock & Roll" quickly gained success and popularity among listeners! Today many music lovers refer to this composition as a favorite in Singer's repertoire... The musician himself described it as "a sentimental look at traditional rock'n'roll".

The second wave of popularity hit the track in 1983, after the release of the movie Risky Business, in which Tom Cruise sings it (or rather, not sings it, but lip-syncs it). Henceforth, "Old Time Rock & Roll" is a well known hit! In the 1990s, the song ranked number two on the "Top 40 Singles of All Time" list! And in 2001, "Old Time Rock & Roll" was listed as one of the "best songs of the century." How was the legendary tune born? That's what we're going to talk about today...

Work at the studio...

Bob Seeger
Bob Seeger

Of all the recognizable songs in Bob Seeger's catalog, "Old Time Rock & Roll" is by right the most recognizable! I'm sure everyone has heard this song: Not only was it a big radio hit, but it was also a great decoration for Paul Brickman's movie "Risky Business" starring Tom Cruise! The 8-note piano intro by Barry Beckett brings to mind the line, "Just take those old records off the shelf...".

Thanks to its relevance in movies and on television, today "Old Time Rock & Roll" is the most memorable blockbuster of the Stranger in Town album. Moreover - it is, you could say, a classic hit of many radio stations! However, the real story of this song's appearance may surprise you a lot...

Bob Seeger got a hit album after ten years of trying, and he needed to prove that Stranger in Town was no accident... And he succeeded, building on the strengths of his previous record... Seeger again split the album between two reserve bands - his touring band The Silver Bullet Band and The Silver Bullet Band. Bob also split Stranger in Town into two very different camps in terms of concept: on one side arena-ready rockers, on the other are reflexive ballads...

"Old Time Rock & Roll" turned out to be a late addition to the album's sessions. You could say that Seeger was given the biggest hit of his career, literally: the track was sent to him by the musicians of Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section - a group of American session musicians based in Muscle Shoals town in North Alabama, which often supported Seeger during his studio sessions! Seeger liked the song, but decided it was still worth working on... He later explained how he kept the chorus lyric while rewriting most of the verses:

"It was the stupidest thing in my life... I really wanted to finish the album already, so I didn't hire an assistant. I didn't believe in the success of the song, so I gave up on it... And today I'm not considered one of the authors of 'Old Time Rock & Roll', so I couldn't control the copyright... And when the track was advertised by Hardee's Restaurants LLC (an American fast food restaurant chain) I was terrified..."

Poor Seeger... It wasn't until the end of 2019 that he was able to confirm his rights to the song.

Graduation, success!

Bob Seeger's Stranger in Town album
Bob Seeger's Stranger in Town album

Released as a single in March 1979, "Old Time Rock & Roll" took pride of place at Seeger's live shows as part of a series of hits played early in the set! The concert version (recorded on the 1981 double album Nine Tonight) is much harsher: there is a hoarse sax solo from Alto Reed, and the piano is played by none other than Craig Frost... The interesting thing is that at first the Silver Bullet Band were not happy about including the song in the album... However, when they saw the delight of the audience during the European tour, they quickly changed their mind! Soon the song became their favorite song, too...

Second Life

Rebecca De Mornay and Tom Cruise
Rebecca De Mornay and Tom Cruise

After its release on the single, the song became a modest hit: it wasn't listed as some kind of super-firm tune until it hit the movies! The composition "Old Time Rock & Roll" perfectly graced the movie "Risky Business" with Tom Cruise! It's played at the actor's iconic moment when he takes off his pants and...the party officially begins! In fact, check it out:

After that, the song's popularity skyrocketed! It entered numerous TV shows and commercials, becoming the flagship song of Guitar Hero: World Tour! "Old Time Rock & Roll" also hit classic rock radio, which was just getting started at the time the song was released in America...

Conclusion…

While listening to "Old Time Rock & Roll", unfortunately, you begin to realize that today's music doesn't have that kind of soul... This track is literally overflowing with energy and positive mood! It will forever be a legendary gem, not only in Bob Singer's discography, but in the history of music in general...

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