Friday Evening Videos: “Night Moves”

This week’s FEV isn’t a music video in the usual sense; rather, it’s a clip from today’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show in which the legendary rocker Bob Seger performs his classic hit “Night Moves.”

I had the Night Moves album on cassette when I was a teenager, and I have vibrant memories of listening to it on my old Walkman as I slouched in the back of my French classroom before the bell rang (I was a good kid and didn’t listen during class, but the interval in between classes? That was my time, Mr. Hand!) And even though there’s not a bum track on that album, this song, the title track, was always my favorite, the reason I’d bought the tape in the first place.

First and foremost, I’ve always responded somehow to the basic sonic quality of it: the acoustic guitar, the melody, the pause toward the end and the slow pickup that builds to a crescendo. Something about that sound just activates my nervous system in a pleasant way, I guess. And the lyrics have always spoken to me in personal ways, too. Back in high school, the bit about working on mysteries without any clues in the backseat of an old Chevy held a certain — how shall I say this? — aspirational appeal. Later on, I came to understand the melancholy heart of the tune. And now, as the years have piled on top of each other, the verse about waking in the middle of the night and the dramatic pause that follows have acquired an almost shocking degree of truth.

As for this particular performance, well, Seger’s getting old… and that lends the song even more poignancy than it already possessed. It’s no longer the song of a thirtysomething grappling with the specter of approaching middle age, but the reflection of a man who’s well into his own autumn. Give it a listen… and stay through the end to hear Ellen’s fond remembrance of the time Seger did something decent for her. He’s a good guy, old Bob… well, aside from his confounding refusal to ever come to Salt Lake when he’s on tour. What the hell, Bob?

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