I am on a long and lonesome highway west of Saginaw, Mich., when a voice comes wafting through the speakers: "On a long and lonesome highway/ East of Omaha." The voice is raspy and deep. It's punctuated by the same goddamned saxophone hook—over and over and over. The music, paired with the bumpy highway, makes my stomach ache. I cover my ears and plead for it to stop. I want to jump out of the speeding car. I am 12 years old.
I hate Bob Seger. His voice is like the brown note to me. His songs are embedded like burs in my psyche. "Turn the Page" is the tip of the iceberg. His scratchy squeal on "Night Moves" haunts my nightmares. The ever-repeating guitar hook on "Mainstreet" is never gone from my head. Every time some asshole puts "Old Time Rock and Roll" on a jukebox, my immediate impulse is to punch him.
In Michigan, Bob Seger isn't just some classic rocker with a bunch of hits. Even to say he's a god doesn't cut it. If the Dalai Lama, Moses, Patrick Swayze, Jesus and Gandhi combined genes and started hammering out cheesy classic rock, that divine hybrid would rank two tiers below Seger. In the snowmobile track-laden forests of the Upper Peninsula, the wind whispers "Beautiful Loser." On the decimated streets of Detroit and Flint, "Like a Rock" serves as a rallying cry. Seger is the region's Boss. And if you don't agree, you're asking for trouble.
So you learn to deal with it—you keep your mouth shut, causing this strange sickness that makes your guts burn. The back of that minivan was my own personal Ludovico treatment: The same horrid sounds now cause stomach pains and helplessness every time I ask some middle-aged barfly to please turn off the Seger.
And lo, here Bob goes—on the roooooooooad again, hitting Portland and probably drawing every Michigan transplant (except one) to the Rose Garden. Classic-rock stations are already saturating the airwaves with his hits. And, once again, I'm trapped in the back of that van, just waiting for it all to stop. Escape is a mere fantasy.
SEE IT: Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band play the Rose Garden Arena, 1 N Center Court, with Joe Walsh, on Saturday, March 30. 8 pm. $45-$97. All ages.