Triple Played: Bob Seger’s opinion of disco makes sense

Just take those old records off the shelf/ I’ll sit and listen to ‘em by myself/ Today’s music ain’t got the same soul/ I like that old time rock and roll.”

— Bob Seger, “Old Time Rock and Roll” from the LP “Stranger In Town”

Bob Seger released that song back in 1978. It is very understandable and not coincidental that it came at the end of the sudden 18-month bubble in time that was the disco invasion. This all started in 1976 after, in my opinion, the greatest 10 years for the singer/songwriter generation in rock ‘n’ roll history.

So we should forgive Seger for being a bit on edge.

“Don’t try to take me to a disco/ You’ll never even get me out on the floor/ In 10 minutes I’ll be late for the door/ I like that old time rock and roll.”

Just this week I was out in front of the store getting some sun and fresh air when a friend and fellow music aficionado walked by. I told him that they finally officially released the Grateful Dead show from Vaneta Oregon in 1972.

He said he had been listening to old Dead shows online because they were “soundboard” shows and he liked the improved sound. Then he said he was still trying to give this “new” music a chance to grow on him and touch his soul like that old music from the 1960s and ‘70s. It wasn’t working very well because he still goes back to the older music, he said.

I told him that I have asked almost every performer, who comes through town and who I have had the chance to talk to, what new music moves them.

From Michelle Shocked to Darden Smith, Jimmy LaFave, Kevin Welch, Tom Russell, Steve Forbert and others, the answer is similar. Not much of the new music really moves any of them, and most of them still look to the great singer/songwriters for inspiration. Songwriters such as Neil Young, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, John and Paul, Woody Guthrie, Joni Mitchell, Carole King, Miles Davis and others.

Russell told me that a lot of the newer singer/songwriters have an “I know it all” sense about them and do not look to the aforementioned songwriters for inspiration. Russell went on to say that those musicians should all learn some of those songs before they try writing their own.

There is no harm in covering other songwriters. After all the Beatles and The Rolling Stones both started as cover bands.

The Beatles were inspired by Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Little Richard, Fats Domino and others. For the Stones, it was Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and other blues artists. Dylan listened to and was inspired by Guthrie, Johnny Cash and Williams, among others. Stevie Ray Vaughan idolized Jimi Hendrix. Tom Petty is a big Byrds fan and has paid tribute to them more than once.

Morrison’s influences included Domino, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and Jelly Roll Morton. Mark Knopfler, Morrison and the Beatles all credit Lonnie Donegan as being very influential to their “sound.”

Music is not recorded in a vacuum and imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that there are some excellent new bands out there. Mumford and Sons, the Avett Brothers and Old Crow Medicine Show are some of the newer bands that have caught my attention.

Like the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan, Knopfler, Morrison and Young, these bands are all products of what came before them. What they were able to do that set them apart was to take that inspiration and knowledge and turn it into something unique. That is the trick.

“Call me a relic call me what’cha will/ Say I’m old fashioned say I’m over the hill/ Today’s music ain’t got the same soul/ I like that old time rock and roll.”

— Bob Seger, “Old Time Rock and Roll” from the LP “Stranger In Town”

Rock Cesario owns Triple Play Records, 530 Main St., and hosts “Acoustic Sunday” from 9 a.m. to noon Sunday on the Vault 100.7 FM. Email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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